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Mindfulness has taught me that true and lasting peace only comes in the moment. Right here, right now. In the moment, my past carries no weight, and the future does not exist. Life is truly a succession of moments.
The holiday season is upon us and that means family time and reflection. But this year just feels off. I’m not sure if it’s the change of seasons, the upcoming holidays, our added pressures at work, or just the stress of everything going on in the world, but my husband, Russ, and I have both been stressed.
Well, it finally happened. After successfully dodging COVID for over three-and-a-half years, the virus finally struck our household. Since the outbreak, my biggest fear about COVID was having a preexisting brain injury — what might the virus do to further compromise my already challenged brain?
Many years ago, I was introduced to a phrase that, before my brain injury, had not been part of my vocabulary: “compensatory strategies.” Why? Because prior to my injury, there had been nothing to compensate for. I was a fully formed and completely functional adult. Strategies were for board games.
Triggers are weird. A seemingly innocuous thing happens or there is a tiny deviation from routine and you or your loved one loses it. From the outside, it seems like a total overreaction but for the person who has been triggered, it is a fight-or-flight response.
My life will forever be marked by that day in November of 2010 when I sustained a brain injury after being hit by a car while riding my bicycle. It was a true "before and after" scenario. However, an unexpected consequence followed: my decades-long depression disappeared. I was as stunned as anyone …
The COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on the deep need that people feel for human touch and connection in hospital settings. Having relatives peering through windows at their loved ones or unable to enter hospitals altogether exacerbated the lack of human intimacy that is all too common in health care settings.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve discovered mindfulness and have learned the value of living life “in the moment.” It’s a learned skill that has enabled me to find peace in my life. In what amounts to almost an irony, I no longer have much of my past to recall. The future never really comes. By circumstance, rather than any virtue, I am now forced to live in the moment.
Social isolation and loneliness are increasingly becoming societal problems, as they contribute to polarization and affect our physical health. Mental health professionals, community advocates and health-care providers have been raising the alarm about this impending crisis.
Living with a brain injury is, by far, the most complicated thing I have ever done. There have been great joys, stunning victories, and, somehow against all odds, I’ve carved out this amazing life. Sometimes, I just need to remind myself that just because I think something, doesn’t mean that it’s true.
Last month, I found out that I qualified for a Cornell University research study about brain injury.... I ruefully admit that I was nervous going into the testing. What brokenness in me would they find? I do pretty well these days, well enough that most people might not notice my challenges. But I still have an ego and can be more sensitive that I care to admit.
If there’s one thing that is all but guaranteed after a brain injury, it’s uncertainty. So much of what we face as survivors is unique to the brain injury community. Brain injury is often — but not always — invisible to others and no two brain injuries are alike. The challenges I face are often different from those other survivors face. Often invisible, and always unpredictable, brain injury is a unique confluence of challenges.