So, I’ve haven’t been writing as much lately, but I did finally managed to finish a new update! I don’t know why it took me so long, but I guess I just got caught up with everyday life. In being too distracted to take the time to write down my thoughts. Add to that a bad fall, a concussion and a vacation abroad and months went by without me noticing.
However, I finally managed to stop procrastinating and hopefully this will help me to get motivated again to write more frequently.
And what is it you write about after such a long time? After all, enough has happened. From lows to highs and from fears to victories. But let’s start on a positive note with an update about hope. Or a blog that might encourage you to feel more hopeful, especially if you are a new member of the brain injury family. As having to live your life in a completely new way, isn’t easy to say the least.
One of the lessons I learned in rehabilitation was to stop comparing myself to how things used to be. To stop reminding myself of all the things I had lost. Instead I was encouraged to compare myself to how I was just after I sustained my brain injury. To see all the progress I had made, in comparison to what I could in those first days, weeks and year. And, more importantly, to not only see your progress, but also to celebrate each and every step forwards.
This isn’t easy by a long shot and is something I still have to remind myself to keep doing. I still have moments in which I only notice all the things I can no longer do. But luckily these moments are happening less and less. Also I’m noticing my progress more easily. By staying focused on the growth I’ve made, on how far I’ve come, rather than reminding myself of what has been lost, my outlook on life has become much more positive.
What brings me joy?
This all made me a firm believer that things can get better. After all, I experienced it myself. I can drive a car, go travelling or even bike for over half an hour, all things that I couldn’t do in the beginning or even two years ago. By challenging yourself with tiny forward steps, progress is possible. Which of course does require a whole lot of patience (not one of my strong suits) as well as listening to your body. Still, experiencing that neuroplasticity is real, that in time your brain can make new connections which can increase your possibilities, makes me very hopeful.
A process towards growth
Now of course ever brain injury is different. What works for me or what I can do, might not be the same for others and vice versa. My heartfelt hope is that whatever used to bring you joy in your life, is something that, in time, can bring you similar feelings and enjoyment now.
For me, travelling is that which brings me the most joy. I’m happiest when I can discover a new place without having any responsibilities. And my biggest fear was that I would no longer be able to experience this after my brain injury. However, after six years of slowly challenging myself, I finally managed to travel for six months around the world. Something that I sure thought was impossible due to my brain injury.
The process of breaking it down into smaller steps, wasn’t easy. For those first five years I kept having public breakdowns in foreign cities thanks to my brain being overwhelmed. But eventually I felt ready to take the next step of flying half way around the world.
Things can get better, I do believe that. But it takes time and patience. And as I’m a huge fan of lists and tips, I wrote down the seven steps to try and reclaim that what brings you joy:
- Choose an activity that (used to) brings you joy.
- Think about what it is that makes this activity so important for you. Is it sharing an experience with others? Is it pushing boundaries? Getting inspired? Seeing something new? Broadening your horizons
- Could you experience the ‘what’ also in a different way? On a place where the sensory input it less for example? Or by yourself? At a different time of the day or year? At a location closer to you? Can you omit things that are an energy drain?
- Taking the activity as an end goal, how can you break it down into smaller steps, so that in time you can work towards that end goal?
- Don’t go to the next step too quickly. Allow yourself the time. Making those new connections is a slow process. Going over your limits too fast or too often will jeopardize any progress. Try to listen to your body.
- Whenever you have tried to take a step, take some time to evaluate. What went well? What didn’t go well? Why do you think it went wrong? Which adjustments can you make to increase the change for success next time?
- Do you feel like you managed to take a step successfully? Then celebrate your progress!
Setbacks will happen. Whenever that happens, remember yourself to look back at how it started. To how you were in those first weeks after your brain injury. Remember yourself of the progress you’ve already made. Take your time, take a deep breath and try again when you feel ready.
If you have a certain topic that you would like to read a post about or want to share your story, let me know!