The emotional impact of losing the sense of control

losing control brain injury

The moment I wrote last week’s post, I felt like giving myself a pat on the back. After muddling through I finally understood that I had to change something. That the bruises, clumsiness and headaches were signs that an adjustment had to be made.

What goes up..

So, I made a plan. I would use my spare time to do some soul searching. I would find out whatever had to change, adapt my schedule accordingly and happily go on living. Unfortunately reality proved to be a bit more unruly.

Monday seemed to start off well. On my way to a meeting I managed to stop a rising panic attack. At work I told a colleague I was having a bad day and might be leaving the meeting earlier. Two things that I’m normally really bad at. And so, the first two pats on the back were in! But as the saying goes pride comes before a fall.

..must come down

That fall wasn’t too far behind. The long feared migraine attack arose late in the evening, followed by a panic attack during the night. Perhaps my plan of soul searching in my spare time, was a bit too optimistic.

The next morning I felt horrible. Continuing with the plan wasn’t an option. Clearly my body had reached its limit and I decided to call in sick.

Unexpected consequences

The moment I made that decision, my headache disappeared. Which was an unreal experience.  I suffered from that annoying headache for three weeks and then it has the nerve to suddenly disappear, for crying out loud. It got even better, whenever I thought about work or became worked up over the news, my headache would return. Apparently I’d ‘created’ my own negative reinforcement system.

This resulted in a more or less emotional breakdown. On the one hand I was elated, while on the other hand I was extremely angry and frustrated. And, in all honesty, it also made me scared and insecure.

Working through emotions

Since I’ve discovered that writing this blog helps me to make sense of life, I wanted to write it all out.

The relief I felt was mainly due to the absence of headache. Only afterwards do you realize the difference. That headache had constantly claimed a part of my attention and energy. Without it, I suddenly felt more like myself again.

I was so frustrated when that headache disappeared in the blink of an eye. Apparently I could have stopped this headache ages ago. Had I still not learned how this ‘new me’ worked? Why was I still not in control?

For me it felt like failure. I had failed to take care of myself. It was my fault and I was angry with myself. I also was angry with my brain injury. Due to that stupid brain injury I have to say ‘no’ to so many things. Why didn’t it become easier over time?

I was, once more, extremely aware of the fragility of my brain. Had I crossed a line? Had I overextended my brains ability to cope? Would I return to my former level or would I lose some of my abilities, memories or intelligence?

I still don’t know what caused this all. This means that I’m not in control and makes me even more insecure. Do I now have to go to bed whenever I have a headache? When is something a normal discomfort and when is it the result of your injured brain?

Don’t dwell, move forward

The past week was an emotional roller-coaster. But it doesn’t help to dwell on it.

Maybe there isn’t a simple answer.
Maybe there isn’t one clear thing that I need to avoid in the future.
Maybe this is just part of what living with a brain injury means.
Maybe I should be thankful for not having these meltdowns more often.

Maybe I should focus on the silver linings, as this all forced me:

  • To ask for help,
  • To be more honest to others about my limitations, and
  • To take better care of myself.

Maybe that’s the lesson I had to learn.

Losing control bran injury pin

Do you have these emotional meltdowns often? Did they taught you a lessons? Which is the last thing you did that deserve a pat on the back?

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