Sometimes you feel like you’re on top of the world. Ready to face whatever life throws your way, confident in yourself and your ability to adapt. And then there are the times when life feels like an uphill battle. When you doubt yourself and your decisions, when things just don’t seem to go your way and when exhaustion rules. I am convinced that I need to experience the lows in order to appreciate -and be grateful- for the highs. However, going through these lows (pardon my language) sucks.
Step 1: acknowledge your feelings
This month I have been struggling. Maybe a part of this relates to the fact that the end of this month marks my sixth year of living with a brain injury. This time of year always makes me more reminiscent of how my life used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredible grateful for all the progress I have been able to make, for all the good things that have happened since and all the amazing people I got to meet.
But, I still miss my old life. Or more accurately, my old capabilities. Things like feeling energized, not having to pay so much attention to the clock and being able to make spontaneous decisions.
What also didn’t help was the brutal reality check in which I learned that having a working life limits the things that I can do. A cinema visit during my travels was fine, but this time around I ended up with a migraine that lasted two days. This lessons was a tipping point which made me tumble back into those five stages of grief again.
The icing on the proverbial cake was that I just felt exhausted all the time. And after a couple of weeks of slugging along, I’m done. I just want to feel happy again and not tear up whenever someone takes the time to ask how you are really doing.
Acknowledging to myself that I was struggling was the first step to try and change it.
Step 2: honesty
In this case, being honest turned out to be the next step. Apparently I was too tired to pretend and this made me open up more to others. Luckily these people truly listened to what I had to say. Talking in itself won’t change the situation, but it can help to alleviate some of the burden or with feeling less isolated and alone. Especially when you find that others face similar hurdles.
Now I don’t know what the root cause is, that is making this month such a struggle. Maybe it just is, or maybe there isn’t one cause, but a collection of compounding smaller issues and problems. Nevertheless I still want to try to make a change. To feel like I’m taking control and doing something to help myself.
Step 3: find what changed
So my next step is an honest look at the last couple of weeks. What had changed? Did I do something different? Have I still been implementing my limits and coping strategies?
And in all honesty I do think that I can improve how I spend my time. Especially the hours that I’m home and don’t need to sleep or do something else. Apparently I can get quite carried away whenever I get passionate about something. Lately I re-discovered the tutorial video’s on YouTube. Following the instructions and creating something that resembles the video feels great, but does require a lot of focus and concentration. Something that I, especially after a day of work, just can’t afford to do willy-nilly. Or maybe only in much smaller increments of time with a lot more breaks in-between.
Step 4: change your story
In other words I really need to schedule how I spend my free time at home. And I have to limit the time I spend doing things that I like. Or that is how it feels right now. It feels like I have to deny myself things that I enjoy.
However, I can also try to look at it from a different angle. Something that is an important next step, at least for me. I can also try to frame it as an act of self-care. Of making sure that I can do the things that I enjoy, while also making certain that I accept the limits of my abilities. To try and see it as an act of kindness towards myself.
So not only will I try to pace myself, I will also remind myself that this is an act out of kindness. That this is something positive. Hopefully this will help to make me feel better while changing my inner monologue to something more positive. And who knows, maybe in time I can try to push my boundaries.