New Brain


I love memoirs. I read a memoir a week, I'd estimate. The last one I read was not one of my favorites in regard to writing style, but it was about a woman who'd had an aneurysm and her subsequent healing.

In the book, she lists the mental symptoms she and other aneurysm patients often struggle with. As I read the list, I realized with a shock that I had experienced nearly every single one in the aftermath of Dave's death.

I realized that while she had actual brain damage (you can see it on her brain scans as a dark area) and I might not, there is some kind of damage to my brain, too. This is not to try to compare my loss to the loss someone with a stroke experiences. I can't imagine that scenario and am grateful I have yet to experience that particular pain.

It got me thinking though. Maybe, trauma, and maybe especially complex trauma, causes the same kind of neurological symptoms a stroke does. And if that's true, it's no wonder I've had to do so much modifying just to get by. I can no longer multitask without making multiple glaring mistakes.

I have  difficulties driving in new areas (more so than I used to). It seems as though attending so much incoming information at once short circuits my brain more easily.

I'm more easily overwhelmed in any and all situations. I forget almost everything. Some days are simply a complete blank. If you ask me what I did yesterday I may or may not be able to tell you a thing.

I may need reminders just to begin to remember. I'm more disorganized, have trouble managing my time for the first time in my life. I use my phone to alert me to everything, when to wake up, when to leave the house, when to call someone back, etc, because my memory has become so unreliable.

Concentrating is very difficult. Even things I used to be able to concentrate on for hours don't keep me focused for more than 10 minutes now. Motivation is minimal. I'm more emotionally reactive.

All of this overwhelms me and sometimes leads me to feel some shame for it. So, I began to read about trauma victims and guess what? Big surprise. Same symptoms. Finding that evidence normalized it even more for me. I can look at it a little more like an illness I manage versus a deficiency I fight against having.

Plus, I can come here, share my symptoms and hear again and again, "Yes, I know what you mean," and feel less alone.

Today I will see a therapist who works specifically with trauma survivors. I'm hoping he'll help me manage my new brain and give me some more hope for a day when I feel I have some of these mental faculties back. Not necessarily my old brain back, just a more functional new brain.

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