Once again, I convinced myself that I was healed after a couple of (fairly) good weeks. Well good weeks, weeks in which I followed all my rules. I slept a lot, made sure I had an entire recovery day in the weekend and carefully planned all my activities with others. And as I was obeying all my rules, I didn’t overstep my limits as often. It was going so well, that I started to question whether or not I still needed those rules. Maybe I was finally healed! Maybe I had been careful enough and was now able to do a whole lot more.
Yup, five and a half years of living with a brain injury and I still stumble in the pitfall of overconfidence.
I decided to ‘forget’ about my limits for a weekend, or more accurately, for an entire day. This coincided with a weekend away with others and would be the perfect opportunity to see how much I had healed. And boy did I forget those limits, I even went on a (sort of) pup crawl!
Everything was going well, until the next day, when an immense exhaustion arose. Naturally I wasn’t healed at all and ignoring all my rules wasn’t my brightest decision. Which I started to notice quite quickly. It took over a week for that feeling of complete exhaustion to change into feeling tired all the time and feeling lethargic. I haven’t been confronted with how confining a brain injury can be, in a long time. Everything was difficult, I couldn’t enjoy anything and all I could do was waiting for my brain to be able to handle the world again.
Luckily that day without rules was a really good day. I was the one that made the decision to ignore everything for a day and now I’ve learned that this isn’t helping me in the long run.
Whenever I feel low there are six thing that I actively remind myself of to get through those bad days. And this experience provided the perfect opportunity to write them all down.
Hopefully it can help you for getting through a bad day, week or period of time. As living with a disability or illness, especially an invisible one, can (at times) be incredible hard.
Six things to remember
Never doubt yourself
Your feelings and your experiences are valid. Don’t think that there is something wrong with you, that it’s ‘just’ you or that you’re broken. Our thoughts and feelings don’t define who we are. With so many people on this planet, chances are that whatever you’re feeling or going through is more common than you think. So trust yourself and the signals your body gives you.
It’s okay not to be okay
No one is always fine. We’ve become champions in pretending that we’re always okay. You’ll almost start to believe this by scrolling through all those happy photos on social media. But those photos don’t tell the whole story. Everyone has their own insecurities, fears and bad days. You are allowed to have a bad day and to share that. Who knows, maybe you ‘ll even inspire someone else to be honest when things are tough.
Dare to be kind to you
Acknowledge that you’re not okay and allow yourself to be kind to you. Choose to do the things that bring you joy, that relax or distract you. When it’s hard to be kind to yourself, imagine what you would tell your friend in a similar situation. You’re worth isn’t any less. Dare to be your own friend.
Find your tribe
It can help to seek out others who are going through a similar experience. Thanks to the internet and social media, it has become a whole lot easier to find others that share your illness, disability or something else. Or to find the people that share the things you like. Find people to inspire, excite or distract you.
See how far you’ve come
Don’t compare yourself to someone else or to what you could do in your ‘old’ life. See how fare you’ve come since you had to live a new life. Maybe you now can walk a little further, cook with two pans, or finish reading a book. See all the little steps you’ve made that you didn’t even notice. See where you are now and celebrate each new step forward.
Things will get better
It’s not easy living life with a strict schedule or having to managing your energy like a scare commodity. Remember that you’ve made it through all of your previous bad days and struggles. You’re stronger then you think! Even if you feel like you fail, even if you have cried more times than you can count and even if you think you’ve lost your value. You are allowed to make mistakes. You’re allowed to be angry or cry, but don’t give up. You matter. Just the way you are. Things will get better.
What do you repeat to yourself whenever you’re struggling? Which one of these six makes you to most uncomfortable and why?