Friday, February 26, 2010

Godiva chocolate or Seven Eleven slurpee?

If someone were to ask you "What is the one most important thing in your life?" What would your answer be? Your honey? Your kids? Your job? Your car? Your iPod? The correct answer for the big bucks here is YOU!

While my iPod is up there at the top of the list, I am my most prized possession these days. Think about it. Without you being in some kind of healthy, functioning shape, all of these other areas of your life are going to fall apart. Believe me, I know this from experience!

Having had way too much up close and personal experience with narcissists in my life, I used to think this was selfish and wanted to be nothing like it. I proved with gusto that you attract those people with the qualities you need to develop the most. I took giving to a whole new, sick level. I put others' wants and needs way before my own so much so that I ended up really angry and resentful because the whole time I was doing what they wanted, I was boiling inside and grumbling not very nice words under my breath. And I know a few.

I have finally realized that usually the other person could care less and there was not any shiny medal for my act of self sacrifice. I once drove straight through from Florida to North Carolina with a 3 month old infant and a 3 year old toddler in the car...peeing in a diaper which I held let me just clarify (although the visual of me driving a car in a diaper does make me laugh) that takes some talent...while my then spouse drove another car by himself comfortably listening to tunes and stopping for potty breaks.

While making yourself a priority also can be taken to the extreme of being a pure schmuck, it is healthy to be a little bit selfish and to learn to get comfortable with saying "No" and setting some boundaries for yourself. I have even gotten good at it.

My brain injury was actually a blessing in disguise here as it forced me to put myself first. I had to become very self centric to recover. I had to have the self discipline to do the things and make the choices which are good for me and my brain and say "No, thanks" to the people and the things that maybe are fun, but are not going to get me where I want to go.

I used to like my red wine. Now I am not ruling out out having a glass at some point in the future. The idea of becoming a tee totaller is just too bleak. However, about a year ago, I had two glasses of wine the night before and did nuerofeedback, a therapy which trains the brainwaves, the next morning. My brain told on me. She said "It looks like you have a fresh brain injury!" I just sat there looking like the cat that ate the canary and did not say a word. Ever since then, it's just is not worth it to me to drink any alcohol.

My daily life now reflects my honoring myself. I put healthy things in my body. I take supplements. I get lots of sleep. I make time to exercise every day. Some days vacuuming the house counts as my cardio. Hey, I work up a sweat! I meditate daily. I call this my healing time, and I really think it has been. If I do not do it even for one day, I can really tell a difference. I do brain training every day in addition to my own speech therapy which is learning Spanish...hola!... and reading out loud. I also have learned to decline many requests for my time and attention in order to do these things.

You get the picture. While I have been accused of having OCD which may be a little bit true, I prefer to think of it as having self discipline. These are the ways in which I tell myself and the world that I am important. I am recovering from a brain injury and getting myself mentally and spiritually healthy, someone already there might not have to be so militant.

It is true, you teach everybody else how to treat you and, in general, no one is going to treat you any better than you treat yourself. Are you teaching people to treat you like some Godiva chocolate or a Seven Eleven slurpee?


  1. Hi Debbie,

    I've been following your blog for a month or two now (after finding the link from 'brokenbrilliant'. I had my last concussion about ten years ago (I think) - the last of eight going back to when I was a kid. It's been a long, very long road, but I can relate to what you wrote about 1) putting yourself first, and 2) alcohol. The former took me years to be able to do. The internet has been a great resource in reducing the isolation of the experience - ten years ago, I really didn't know what was going on, how to deal with it, and with a couple of exceptions, help was minimal and understanding ditto.

    As far as alcohol goes, I was shocked to read that your neurofeedback (can you do this at home?) read 'fresh brain injury' after a couple of glasses of wine. After I was first injured, I couldn't drink for a year or more - I'd get insanely drunk on almost nothing, and the hangovers would last for days afterwards - and be competely debilitating. I confess though that after time had passed, and my tolerance had increased, alcohol became an escape to a malady that went on and on - and, on the positive side, allowed me to live in public again in a way I couldn't for years after I was injured.

    However, it has never stopped being debilitating after the fact and it makes sense that it would read as a 'fresh' brain injury because all too often, that's what it has felt like.



  2. Tim, thank you very much for your comment. Nurofeedback cannot be done at home. It has to be done by a licensed, trained practitioner. I have done it for two years now as much as 4 or 5 times a week at first and now I am down to 2 times a week. It has truly been amazing, and I attribute it largely with my recovery.

    Yes, it can detect the slightest changes in the brainwaves and even a little alcohol has such a strong effect on them. My practitioner says after a brain injury NO alcohol. I have found other ways to have fun and to calm myself. I can do without.

    I applaud your efforts to rehabilitate. Keep it up. It is really up to nobody but you. The progress stops when you stop. I also understand your isolation. Without the internet the last couple of years, I would have been totally alone. Keep working and keep reaching out.

    Here are some nuerofeedback links:

    EEG Spectrum International - The leading provider of Education in Neurofeedback.

    Biofeedback Certification Institute of America

    North Carolina Biofeedback Society

    Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

    International Society for Neurofeedback and Research

  3. Debbie,

    Thanks for the links. I wish I'd known more about neurofeedback, about brain injury treatments in general, when I was injured last. I think treatment - awareness - has come a long way in the last ten years or so. The Iraq war, growing awareness of sports injuries have created that awareness and hopefully it will be built on . . .

    I couldn't drink at all for a couple of years after I was injured. Two drinks and I'd be out of my mind. But over time, it became a relief then a crutch - then a problem. The hangovers are still terrible. I try and do without but life is never a straight line. But you're so right - you can only rely on yourself.

    Keep writing . . .