I’ve been sitting on this final post of the My journey to the World Congress on Brain Injury series for months and months. Here it is, now, on the last day of the year. Although much is the same, the piss-off factor is decreasing. I believe they call that acceptance, and I’m really hoping to become more intimate with it in the new year. It’s been a long and hard one. Onwards and upwards into 2020!
After the conference, I feel the same as I do after I finish so many other “big” things nowadays. I’m happy that I did it but exhausted. And consequently pissed off. I used to be able to do so much!
Don’t look back.
My Facebook post about attending the World Congress on Brain Injury gets lots of likes and comments. Meanwhile I feel as though I’ve lost myself and have a headache that won’t go away. A shadow hangs over me. It’s not just me. It’s me. It’s so much bigger. It’s overwhelming.
On Monday, I see my therapist, Dr. Bicycle, and start unravelling how big a deal this was. On Tuesday, I want to run away – to a Renaissance conference or something. By Wednesday, I start getting my selfie back. On Friday, I know what I need to do to take care of myself.
It takes me weeks to process all of this. I start seeing similarities between that five-day conference experience and everything else in life. A choir rehearsal weekend, a doctor’s visit with my mom, a Saturday morning brunch with girlfriends … Damn. It can even be something as simple and small as an unplanned day.
When there’s too much going on, I lose my self and get fatigued. Headaches take over. It can take days to recover.
But I’m starting to understand.
I’m a new me. Even if I’m doing something that I’ve done a thousand times, and even if I’m feeling great, I have to do everything differently. (Trial and error, I explain to someone in the Pink Concussions Facebook group who asks how you know when to rest and when to push your brain.) Neuroplasticity. The four p’s and one e of recovery. And be mindful – always. This is a journey, and I’m constantly learning.
(Sometime during this life-changing post-conference phase, it hits me that the 2021 World Congress on Brain Injury in Dublin might be a more realistic venue for me. Maybe by then I’ll be able to handle a conference in a more “normal” way. Perhaps I’ll be able to write the kind of pieces I’d planned for this one.)
I need to stay in touch with myself.
It’s not my brain-injured self or my pre-injury me that’s running the show; it’s my new me. How do I give myself what I need so I don’t run out of steam? What can I do more of (and less of) so I can thrive and avoid getting flooded and overwhelmed?
These are the questions I grapple with. This is how the new, pink-brained-me spends her days.
Don’t look back.