by Linda W. Arms, dated November 4, 2014
For several years after my brain injury I felt a certain sense of peace and contentment. Did any of you experience a similar thing? I know brain injuries are all so different and I know it seems odd, but I feel there was a gift that came with the injury. My brain could not handle much more than getting me through the day while in my home doing less than 5% of the things I used to do in my life. Even though I was in a fog and knew I was just a small piece of my former self, I enjoyed a sense of bliss.
Prior to the accident I had a career, I had a social life, I had many interests. My life was full of activity and I could never have enough to do. I was very driven and always wanted perfection in what I did and the people around me. It was difficult for me to relax. I was doing yoga for several years up until the accident and it helped me find some calmness. I read all sorts of self-help books to learn how to be more mindful and content but nothing worked. Until I got hit on the head, that is.
I was turned “off” when the trauma occurred. A door shut on what my life was. My world shrank to a tiny portion of what it was. My mind could only deal with things in the moment and only simple things. I struggled to get through each day and often slept up to 14 hours a day.
I could only focus on a very small piece of what was before me. Since my brain was no longer cluttered with a million other thoughts, I saw the world very simply. My mind was often empty with no thoughts. I learned to connect to the quietness and nurturing of nature. I could let the beauty of what I was seeing or feeling into my relatively empty brain and really experience it. I was living in the moment. I did not worry. I did not get angry (or display many other emotions). I was at peace (sort of).
I watched butterflies, stared at flowers, felt the breeze, smelled the soil in my garden. I enjoyed very simple things. I saw and experienced many things most people around us are not capable of in our busy world. I watched the blur of activity of other people racing around in their lives and I thought “they are not really living”. They do not see our world. I could not see or feel our world before my accident. Although, in rare times, I stopped for a split second and saw the glimpse of a beautiful flower, it was a fleeting, shallow experience. As a result of the brain injury, I can sit and enjoy the sky, the birds or flowers or just feel myself exist and feel connected to the world around me.
It’s been almost 9 years since my brain injury and I am so much better. My mind is now very active and I’m getting back to the many interests I had. My peace and contentment have faded. The bliss is usually not there. But now, since the brain injury, I know what that peace and contentment feels like. If I concentrate I can feel it for moments but it takes work. I have to look for that gift of bliss. I have to work on it. I certainly know I don’t want to lose it. So now I’m back reading those self-help books and using other resources to help me keep the gift going.
I know my brain injury was a terrible thing for me and my family but I also found a silver lining that I will hold on to for the future and am grateful for. Have any of you discovered a gift as a result of your injury? Or maybe a new talent?