After my brain injury I doubted if I’d ever be able to travel again. Luckily I regained some of my confidence over time. After all, those short trips finally started to become real positive experiences. Maybe I could try going on a longer trip as well?
To just go for it
As I’m writing this, the first three months of my trip are already over. Yes, I’ve passed the halfway mark of my travel adventure. This makes it the perfect moment to take a moment to look back.
First of all, I’m extremely happy that I made the decision to travel for six months. A decision that makes it to the ‘Best decisions ever‘ list.
I had hoped that everything would work out, but I’m pleaseantly surprised by how well it turned out to be. I can do so much more now that I’m travelling. It almost feels as if I’m one step closer to the ‘old me’.
That being said, I’m very aware that not everyone can do this. Not only because of the money issue and all the hassle, but also because some disabilities can make it a lot harder. It would have been much more difficult if I needed mobility devices or daily assistance. So I’m very aware of how privileged I am.
When that first month went well, a part of me was thinking “I should have done this ages ago,” but after some more (and honest) thinking, I changed my mind.
I don’t think it would have been such a positive experience, if I’d tried this earlier. I needed those five years to learn how to handle this new reality. To learn what didn’t work anymore, to discover which compensation strategies worked and how to deal with having less energy. But also to give my body the opportunity to readjust.
Also, all those bad days and moments did have one major upside. They taught me that I can be strong. That eventually things do get better. You learn what to do, or not to do, when you’re having a bad day and sometimes it’s ‘just’ a matter of hanging in there. Of waiting for things to get better.
“But aren’t you afraid?” a lot of people asked me that when I told them of my plans. The thing that I fear most, is to sustain another brain injury. But that doesn’t keep me from living.
Whenever someone asked me that question, I always had to think of the line from the tv-serie ‘Speechless’ (a tip if you haven’t watched it yet!). “The thing that I feared most has already happend, so what is there left to be afraid of?” And I can relate.
As a result of my brain injury I lost my way of life, the blind faith in my body and my believe in endless opportunities.
Regaining some of what I’d lost was hard and required a lot of effort and energy.
However, this experience did teach me the importance of living in the ‘now’. To do the things that you enjoy now. I also learned to look for the silver linings and to practise gratitude. (Even though that might take some tries.)
This combined is why I think it was a good decision to travel now.
What travelling has brought me
I’ve noticed that my attitude has changes over these past three months. From simply surviving, deliberating all activities and living from bed-to-bed-moment, I find so much more enjoyment now.
Instead of looking forward to going to bed, I now actually look forward to go out and do things. I can even do things, just because I want to do them.
Those moments of exhaustion now alternate with moments of feeling energised. Apperantly I needed to let go of all my responsibilities to discover that this is still a possibility.
I now realize that having a brain injury doesn’t have to deminish my quality of life. But that it’s all about the choices that I make.
These past three months have taught me that I’m much more social then I thought, less anxious then I feared and less disabled on the road.
As long as I alternate active days with days of rest and take certain precautions.
I always wear earplugs and have my sunglasses at hand. Also I try to do nothing in the evenings and try to avoid busy places as much as possible. A minimal sacrifice in my opinion.
Hopefully the second half of my trip will turn out to be equally good. And I’ll do my best to do more new things and have new experiences. But also to keep seeing how far I’ve come and how grateful I get to be.
I feel so much more alive now. And hopefully I can hold on to that feeling once I’m back home.
That will be a challenge when I have to work again. But that’s a worry for another day. At least I now know that I can do much more.
Have you ever tried something that you thought would be impossible? How did it turn out? Can you still see that things are improving over time?
2 Replies to “Trying the impossible to learn what is possible with a brain injury (travelling)”
Glad to read that traveling is going so well! Your positive experiences have been encouraging for me, thanks for sharing! I leave for Oregon in 2 weeks, and am hoping my journey goes as well, and that I am able to spend time with family and friends in my first visit ‘home’ in 6 years. Enjoy the time on the west coast of the US!
Thank you!! And all the best to you. I hope your travels will go well and that you can enjoy your time with your family and friends! Take care!