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Traumatic Brain Injury

So alone, and lost

#1

I’m not sure how to do this. How to put into words what I have experienced the past several years. I’m not even sure what really happened to me. All of my symptoms happened around the same time I was receiving bi-lateral ECT for Treatment Resistant Major Depressive Disorder. I experienced it as “the before” me, and the “after me”. The doctors thought trying me on an anti-psychotic might get the depressive symptoms to decrease. So at first, I thought, my symptoms must be from the medication, and once I would stop the medication, I would be fine. I felt so out of it. My environment and even myself felt strangely different. Like I was in a dream world. I suffered with significant retro-grade amnesia. My husband and kids didn’t feel like I knew them. I’m not lying when I say, I felt like someone had literally stuck me in this woman’s body, with this woman’s life, and expected me to know her, her life and her memories. Movies, events, relationships she had know and experienced, I didn’t know. My husband was saying he loved me, my kids were hugging me, and I had to tell myself, “this is how they expect you to act, so say this, or do that”, all the while feeling like a total stranger to myself and my life. It’s been this way now for 2 years. Yet, time lost its meaning those two years ago, and it always feels like it just happened yesterday. Ive tried to explain it to doctors, my therapist, my husband, but there are NO words enough to describe the hell it has been. It feels like I’m crazy, literally crazy. Along with the memory loss, I experienced an anxiety, that I can only describe as a feeling of sheer terror from waking until sleeping. Day in, day out, holding on to what little faith I had in God, praying that the symptoms would go away and I’d find answers as to why this happened, what caused it. I question every little thing I do on a daily basis, “did I make the right decision?”, “did I say the right thing?”, “why am I so irritable”, “why cant I remember something I just read?”, “why can’t I remember having a conversation or enjoying something my family now tells me a had or enjoyed?”
What’s wrong with me? What happened to me? My therapist seems to believe it was because of the Ect. Ect can help, Ive heard and seen it help others. But, for me I’m beginning to believe it caused something to occur to my brain. Some type of injury. Ive been trying to get me back ever sense, but am beginning to realize I might now ever feel like the me before. My life now seems to be defined by, “who I was before this event”, and “who I am now”. It feels like a definite line in the sand with no going back. I just don’t know how to move on from here. I’m so angry. I know I need to accept, define myself in a new better way. But right now all I can think of is “I want to quit”, this is too much for me to handle or deal with. It’s too big for me! Way to big. I had some difficult issues in my life before this, now it all feels so overwhelming. I try to do day by day, but it is a struggle. Im so sorry about the darkness in my words, its just been a hard long road, and even if I had the answers as to why, Im not sure it would even help. This is my first time talking about this to anyone outside of medical people. I have felt utterly alone in dealing with this for a so long. It’s hard to be so honest and I’m afraid what’s going to be said. I worry so much more now about those kinds of things. Hopefully there are others out there who can understand my pain. For me, that in itself would be life giving. Thanks

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#2

Hi @Hutch1988. Nice to meet you and thank you for your share.

Do you ever feel like you are an impostor? I did.

Your share hit pretty close to home for me. First, not even feeling like this is my life… what you said reminds me of my life, wow. That ain’t easy. Second, the brutal relentless anxiety. I called my anxiety The Terminator. Not because it terminated anything, but it was relentless. Here is the quote from the film: “It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop… ever”. So, at the end of the day, eventually I didn’t take it personally anymore. I am a person, but it isn’t personal. And eventually it toned down a lot. I had anti-seizure medicine and that helped at lot too (among many other things).

Just know that we are all in this together. Strange and surprising events brought us together, and here we are, and we are more alike then we are different. It is in fact really surprising how much overlap we face. The battles are similar.

One thing I got most here was being able to share and be understood, when things didn’t even make sense to me.

So don’t hesitate to share whatever you wish: we are in this together.

Have a great one.

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#3

Hutch1988,

I read your writing two times, a very good writing, and yes your situation is overwhelming. It appears feeling overwhelmed is the same as being violated. It appears you feel stuck in this powerlessness. For me when I get into this powerlessness, a chasm of inner darkness opens up inside, like a black hole draining whatever life I have left out. I not sure why but my human nature is not very good at shaking off feeling distraught. The feelings of hopelessness will plague me. I usually go into silence, sit alone for hours, barley breathing and violently tormented. The strange thing is everything becomes a source of torment and life becomes this unbearable reminder of my alienation from it. My sitting in my darkness is usually looking for ways to get out of this tormented consciousness.

I write this trying to relate to you as closely as I can and yet I do not believe I can fully touch your darkness and alienation you may feel. I am so sorry what you are experiencing and you appear to be feeling a form of delusional thinking into which no ray of hope can intrude. This delusional thinking for me comes up from identifying with “nothingness” and then I become pissed. I become more attracted to the darkness and then I think I need to do something to escape this crushing negative consciousness. To rid myself of myself and feeling defeated by life I through myself into heavy work — workaholic. Now, though, my cells no longer work I have had to face how I was running away from my “nothingness.”

So what I am saying to you, without you feeling me giving you advice, there is a firm foundation in nothingness. For me to find this foundation was learning to accept my limitations, to let go of all my expectations and my beliefs. It is finding real faith. Real faith has nothing to do with beliefs or even trying to convince myself certain beliefs are true. The faith I writing about cannot be lost nor can it be harmed. It is the recognition of this inner Essence, like the sun. It is supportive and genuine, nothing more and nothing less. Also it does not matter if you believe or not, nor does it matter if you believe in the sun. This Essence of the sun is still with you.

Because your mind feels wrong maybe recognize your faith and the Presence within your faith. From my experience this is your support and where your true nature cannot be harmed. Maybe let your faith allow you to fall like a leaf falling off a tree and allow this faith maybe to give you some inner freedom. Maybe allow your faith to respond spontaneously just beyond your beliefs, doubts, and learned procedures. Let each moment guide you into optimal action.

I am just suggesting this real faith, as to offer some space for your consciousness. Also, I understand faith to some degree in “nothingness” but God sure does not get my applause and admiration here. The special quality of being a failure and life humiliating me still creates contradictory and irrational feelings. Naturally what is considered the Higher Power usually merely dissipates in the next breeze for me. However, if you can find this faith, which I am also trying to do, it seems to help to stop this overwhelming sense of this essential flaw. Faith can help with the feelings of hopelessness and the current against what we have to swim against. Maybe let your faith be paradoxical, where “nothingness” is turned into a spontaneous moment and just beyond your conscious control — falling leaf sensation and the opposites are accepted.

There is something in you, it appears, where you are the kind person nothing is lost. Also I am sorry if I offended you, as I just trying to touch what I feel deep in you and allow this leaf to fall and allow you to let go of being “told” who you are not. God is in the fall and in a sharp sense I believe you know this — your faith.

Thank you for your authenticity, what a gift, and your presence is significant!

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#4

Occipital,
Thank you so much for responding to me. You described the anxiety so well. It’s unrelenting, unidentifiable, insane, brutal, organic and raw. In the beginning, all I could do was cry, and pray and for the night to come, to close my eyes. Hoping the next day I might find some relief. Day in,day out, I cried so much, I didn’t know I a person could cry so many tears. One deep belief I held onto during that time was something I had heard throughout my life in church, was God holds every tear we cry. That someone cared enough about my pain to catch my tears and value them as precious. Now, the struggle is more about finding the strength and courage to face my day knowing that I am going to have to fight, and fight hard to deal with what life brings my way. It does get so emotionally and physically draining. Early on I had an ongoing strong sense of pressure in my head which has lessened through the days and months, but I hit daily what I call “walls”, where I cant think of the next word to say, or the next anything. My brain just cant go another step, can’t think one more thought or it might explode. This journey has felt so lonely for me, for such a long time. You can not imagine the how utterly amazing it feels to not feel alone anymore. Thank you so much for your words, they meant so much to me! Maybe finding this place to just be me and be understood can be a new beginning for me. Ive long thought there has to be someone else, someone out there who can understand what I’m going through, but all this has been so insane for me to experience, I wasn’t sure if there was someone, or someone’s out there. Thank God I’m not alone! What a relief! Hope to talk with you more and hear more of your story.

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#5

Syd,
Your words did not offend me at all. Quite the opposite. They bring me hope! Before all of this, I loved being by myself, thinking, contemplating life. If I had to choose to be by myself or hang out with others, I would have choose the former. But, that changed when this happened. I could not be by myself. I couldn’t even close my eyes without feeling an intense, overwhelming sense of fear or panic. Now, in my aloneness fear and negativity quickly take hold and I try to fight the thoughts, etc. and quickly get worn out. I am slowly realizing my limits, amount of body and brain energy I have for the moments in my life, and at any moment something or someone can say or do something that sets me off and sends me to a place of panic, intense anger or fear. I was never the one to “let someone have it”, if they frustrated me or ticked me off. Now, I’m the one who is cussing out someone, mainly in my head, when they piss me off. I was the sweet southern girl who allowed everyone pretty much to take advantage of her good nature. Now, my mind and body feel like they’re right on the edge, waiting for the next “idiot” to do something stupid that causes me to snap. I guess I held it in all those years, and now that my guards are down, and I’m vulnerable all the negative crap I took from others is able to come out. So in away, its a good thing now, because I’m more likely to not put up with things from others that cross over my boundaries. I’m standing up for myself a lot more. I just want to be able to temper it, and not completely loose it and feel so out of control of my emotions. It’s definitely a flight or fight thing. I use to run away from conflict, or take it and internalize it, now I am almost looking for a fight. Someone I can release all of my anger on. Thanks for listening to me, and giving me a place to share my real thoughts. I look forward to talking more with you. It’s good to know I’m not alone, and maybe I can even be a help and support like others are for me.

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#6

Hutch1988 we are all in this together and I don’t say that lightly :).

When you feel like it, check existing posts on here. There are a lot of gems that are really interesting and even cathartic.

Rock on Hutch1988.

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#7

Hutch1988,

Wow, what a gift accepting my words and allowing me to be not threatening to you. What I appreciate about your response is you appear to be finding others’ are not inherently more important than your own life. It appears you are of finding your own value and allowing this to give you the energy you need to engage with life. From what I feel in your writing is you are on a crossroad and a certain choice on this crossroad. If I could, I want to share how I have experienced my crossroad and what I have learned on this crossroad. What I write about is not going to match you directly but I do believe despair and hopelessness is something we share in common. My writing explains how I created hopelessness in reference to myself and others. I will offer a few suggestions for you at the end of this writing.

First off, I never liked a crossroad, leaving behind what I knew and it always felt like it was putting me into control of something I did not know, one of my deepest fears. I also never knew if my choice was clear on the crossroad and then I wondered if the trip was worth the effort. Naturally, on my crossroad I became extremely high-strung and my nervous system turned to a high-pitch. For some reason this crossroad always made me feel the problem of hopelessness within me and like God was an enormous stumbling block. The crossroad made my mind create complexities, nothing is clear or certain, and my anxiety increased.

Somehow my faith led me to this crossroad, maybe in a sense a new depth, and yet my mind would become extremely reductionistic. Gradually, I realized my problem was not knowing which ideas were valuable and which were not. This created a nervous behavior, I could not repress unconscious impulses and my mind would erupt into this intense involvement in my perceptions, my work and my relations with others. So in a sense the crossroads taught me how I lost perspective, finding hidden meanings and causes everywhere. This got so complex and exhausting I finally stop trying to make contact with the road or with anyone. It was like I had to bury myself in my ideas and then God was something I did not want to believe in or more specifically I did not want him to have access to my mind.

Ah the crossroad, a sense of certitude and then everything remains hanging in the air in a cloud of possibilities, felt like filtering this raw material of my experiences through the unconscious. My unconsciousness wanted thoughts about my crossroad and the more complex the thoughts would become the more incomprehensible the road was. Anything I thought seem real. I am sure you can tell my mind made me feel deep hopelessness. This hopelessness would disengage me from myself and from life. I do not believe you are directly doing this but I feel we share hopelessness and despair together. From this, hopelessness seems to create an unreflective disconnectedness, a lack of awareness, can feel distinctively vague, and distant from ourselves and others. Hopelessness and despair creates delusional thinking and just worthlessness as a human being.

I do not believe your hopelessness is making you feel worthlessness, maybe more toward feeling inferior, and what we share maybe is feeling defeated by life and no way to come back to life. This intense hopelessness and mental suffering seems to come from unconscious impulses for me. Giving a name to this became part of the crossroad. The crossroad gradually became freeing and yet making this suffering and pain into something more took a meaning beyond me. I can just say there is something about the crossroad that takes faith, a real value, and a decisive experience. Your writing shows this decisiveness and in your way you appear to be thinking things through. Also I am taking a risk writing this, yet it helps to touch your faith and the faith of your presence as an individual.

In my way of trying to communicate the crossroad I feel you are on, maybe you can now let go of all feelings of hopelessness and depression and despair. I believe this is what your anger is directed toward, hopelessness toward yourself and others. I also believe your crossroad is teaching you to not deteriorate into a resignation, a giving up, and is rather teaching you a mature letting go. Specifically, this is what I have learned on my crossroads to let go of all feelings of hopelessness and despair, a mantra. Also the crossroad offers faith, faith takes through the hopelessness/despair, and helps us to embrace all that life brings us.

When all is said and done, you are a gift and just this living reminder you are a gift to other just as you are a gift to yourself and specifically for me. Thank you for being with us and thank you for the qualities of warmth you offer us.

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#8

Thank you Occipital. It is an amazing feeling when you find out you are not alone, and there’s a place where you can find help and healing. I’m looking forward to checking out the different topics, etc. I keep telling myself today, “Hey, you don’t have to experience this without others who can understand. I truly believe this is something someone could not imagine unless they’ve experienced it. Which is good actually, because I would not wish for anyone else to have to go though this, haha.

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#9

Ditto. I wouldn’t wish this upon my worst enemy or anybody’s worst enemy. That is a private thought that has come up a lot during recovery. It might communicate more than I could every say myself in my words.

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#10

I wrote to you yesterday, Hutch1988, and going back into this tormented consciousness I once had exhausted me. The energy in my body is shot and I remember how the hopelessness plague me like a sewer running out of my mouth and snakes crawling in my body. My head injury could not repress these unconsciousness memories. For some reason my mind cannot compensate for this “ugly-duckling” handicap I have mentally and socially. It makes me want to repel anything that influences me. It fills my mind with hatred and my aggression is complex and exhausting. I also feel I do not need to make this so horrifying and so outlandish, though hopelessness will do this to me. Courage and the ability to let go is the only thing I now have.

I realize revealing my flaws and irrationalities is unseemly and unflattering. Yet it is just my way of identifying my impulses within the ugly-duckling and I can let go. Also none these lessons from my crossroads are difficult to understand but they are difficult to act on. Hopelessness makes it difficult to act, no choices, yet not acting is also a choice. So viewing the rhythm of my hopelessness is a choice, less a measure of my defectiveness and more to finding wholeness from within, offering compassion, nobility, and this unshakable inner peace.

The crossroads is our teacher, melting down barriers and boundaries, and everything dissolves. Hopelessness can still stick it ugly head up, feeling everything is dissolving like ice into water, but it seems to me this mystery of letting go creates hope in hopelessness.

Thanks again, as I needed to sort his out one more time and allow it to be just a place to begin.

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#11

I had never thought about not wishing it on my worst enemy’s enemy. That’s true though.

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#12

Syd,
So much of what you said spoke to me. Within your words, I find connection, i.e. meaning through a shared experience. In this world where there will definitely be pain, especially if you live long enough, finding others who can understand your pain in some way is paramount. I didn’t realize how valuable that is. Your right about the crossroad. I had read something you had previously written to someone about cellular memory, I think that’s what you called it. With my retro-grade amnesia, I lost my sense of me, my sense of self. A sense of being grounded in reality. I kind of call it my “life flow”. I no longer had a sense of a beginning of my life. I began piecing my previous life’s experiences back together through pictures an family’s stories of events, etc. but I felt like a stranger to them. I could sense some vague connection, but no real emotional connection. The disconnect now and then are very hard. But I will continue to make the effort to be around my loved ones, whether the deep sense of connection is there or not. It’s just too important for my kids to know they have a mom that is there for them. I have thought often through this, if I can survive through the body and mental anguish/pain that has come with this, I believe I can just about conquer anything. The shear strength that it has is does take has got to be creating some kind of warrior inside me, haha. There is this sense of letting go, and finding something beyond what I could have experience before this. Something extraordinary, something the old me could of never experienced. I couldn’t have gotten to this extraordinary from where I was at. The pain has created some kind of new capacity for something I could have never experienced before. I haven’t exactly figured out what yet. A religious song Ive heard before has the line,”What don’t kill you makes you stronger.” Every time I hear that line I get pissed. It brings out a lot of different emotions and feelings for me. I was always the person to ponder the meaning of life and its complexities. It use to be a comforting thing to me. Now it definitely exhausts me and uses up a huge amount of my mental and emotional energy. I’m very interested in finding out more about letting go, and being able to use that energy to experience hope.

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#13

Hutch1988,

I appreciate you sharing your experiences, your feelings of dissociation and maybe even feeling life is a bad dream. I agree that the words from your religious song naturally makes us defensive, “What don’t kill you makes you stronger.” This part of not killing me always put me into a fog of dissociation and this made me feel I had to take flight from what really was happening to me. And yes it is exhausting, so involved and complex. I would become so convinced of the truth that I had no ability to relate to anyone or function in the world I would move from “What if?” to “It is.” Then I would feel so depressed and alienated from myself and others I would go from bad to worse. Somehow “letting go” found me in this inability to function, even when I felt doomed. So what I appreciate about your presence is finding this inner-directed force within yourself and what you call “some kind of warrior inside me.” I believe this is your inner courage.

Courage, from my experience, is mainly fearlessness and the absence of all fear. Also from what I have read, after letting go we then need to bring in an affirmation like courage or the “warrior” as you call it. We need to bring in an affirmation otherwise the negative comes flooding back in. In this letting go there is this brief gap and this immediate usual associations and yet gradually you will glimpse a deeper self, a more essential self and real freedom. Fear though may make you feel unable to move into the next moment with assurance and confidence. Fear is a response of not knowing what is going to happen, like being unsure of our fate and become more fearful to the degree that we feel unsupported. So this is where faith and courage becomes your qualities of strength and will, an affirmation, which you appear to be communicating.

Trust or faith seems to allow us to accept not-knowing the outcome of things. This is not simple, so it is why I symbolized faith with the sun. I also want you to know I am pleased and proud of your abilities to deal with your fears and depression. Maybe you feel your faith or the sun is hidden in the night, where you cannot feel the variation of warmth and coolness from the sun, yet I still feel the sunshine within you. Your faith is expressed in what you call the warrior or what I call courage. Also, for me, I had to find my impulses are not necessarily destructive, but rather can lead to self-development. This fear of change had to become flexible and adaptable, entirely capable of dealing with life as person in my own right. Therefore, I believe your crossroad is bringing this out in you and once again this emotional anchor you are for people. I feel your crossroad will bring this courage and the sun out for you, at the same time letting go of fear and depression. I believe this will make you feel stable and solid for yourself.

Truly there is something satisfying about touching your faith and courage and I believe we are both acquiring a new depth. Your faith/courage is truly a gift, so profound this offers mystical overtones. This speaks for you and needs no apology, the significance of your presence.

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