Anxiety, Brain Injury, Depression

Triple Whammy

Dealing with depression, anxiety, and a brain injury is confusing and disheartening.

Were my lows this low, before the stroke? Did I always hate crowds this much? Did I overthink things this much? . . . or everything just a little bit worse? I don’t remember so I can’t make an accurate comparison.

I spend a lot of time scrutinizing things like, what to do with my time, who I’ll spend it with, where I’m comfortable being from moment to moment, and how I’ll get there.

I make mistakes, but they’re not as drastic or detrimental as they used to be.

I have no regrets because in each wrongful act I’ve committed, or mistake I’ve made, I’ve learned more about myself and human nature.

As humans, what we want and what’s right, don’t necessarily coincide.

On top of that sentiment, it’s all relative to who you’re surrounded by, what your beliefs are, what takes priority at the given time, what makes you tick, what resources are at your disposal, etc.

That being said, I’d like to strive to be a better person, while minimizing emotional pain across the board.

A few of my goals for this winter are to remain seizure-free and to combat my impending, debilitating depression. That means staying away from stressful, demoralizing situations.

Part of this quest for salvation is having to battle my inner demons and win. It can be done but it’s not easy and it’s a never-ending struggle.

So, after a week of serious thinking, in early December, I decided to try remain to sober.

My neurologist okayed me to have ONE alcoholic beverage per day. However, I can’t ever predict whether I can stop after one.

For instance, on a Wednesday night about a month ago, I thought, “A glass of cabernet sauvignon would pair nicely with a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie,” and it did but . . . Then, I had two more glasses of wine, only one glass of water, and forgot to take the evening dose of my anti-convulsant.

The morning after the “wine and pie fiasco,” I had a seizure.

I was treating the site where I bit down on my cheek during said seizure. It wasn’t healed after a week. This, among other things, solidified my decision to try self-restraint.

I’m really good at justifying things to myself. I never, really, considered sobriety before because I’ve never believed in abstaining from something. I believed that telling yourself, you can’t have something is just . . . cruel. But, in weighing pros and cons, at this moment, allowing myself to drink is more cruel because of the imminent domino effect.

Overall, I need to take better care of myself.

It’s been a solid month of sobriety. The more time passes, the prouder I am of myself. I’ve been treating myself the way I’ve always wanted to.

I figured, if I could just make it through the holidays, the rest would be cake.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve wanted to drink within the past month to deal with stress, to make myself comfortably numb, to “fit in,” to not remember, etc. But, I realize that those “coping mechanisms” are temporary, counter-productive, and NOT healthy. Again, one drink would be alright, but I never can tell if I’ll stop after that one. It’s better FOR ME to cut it out completely.

It took a few weeks but, now, I feel better than I have, in a long time.

I’m more in-tune with my body. If I feel “off” I think, “Did I take my meds? Do I need food? Do I need sleep?” There’s no ignoring, or guessing, or forgetting.

For about a year or so, I was afraid to leave my apartment; afraid I’d forget my morning meds, worried I’d have a seizure or a panic attack at the gym or on the bus, stuff like that. Irrational fears, really.

I people say, I’m sharper and my speech has improved. I think it’s true. Even if it’s a placebo effect, I’ll take it!

I’ve been having weird, embarrassing dreams where I slip up and do something stupid. When I realize it’s only a dream, I feel relieved and reminded of what could be or has been and I’m like, “No, thank you.”

I’ve had more energy. I still NEED my naps and I still crap out from general fatigue, but it’s less frequent and doesn’t last as long.

 

It helps that everybody in my life has been so supportive.

They say, “Do you!”

And I say, “Hmmm . . . Okay!”

 

I don’t know. Something just feels right about 2016.

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Believe, Confidence, Identity

Chronicling and Inspiration

When I had a stroke on October 5, 2013, it affected my right side and my speech.

Over a year later, I still can’t tattoo, which is hard for me not to get angry about. I had to change my lifestyle drastically.

By making my recovery public knowledge, I’ve been able to get the support I need, while bringing awareness to others.

My dear friend, James Via, has been chronicling my recovery photographically, since the beginning.

staplesThe above picture is of me, in St. Mary’s Hospital, on October 14, 2013, after my stroke, before my staples were removed. The staples were an alternative to stitches, after I underwent a craniotomy as a result on my brain bleed.

identityIn March 2014, I went to James for help, reclaiming my identity, “normalcy,” and learning to love the things that were frustrating me but were necessary evils in order for me to recover. I did my hair and make-up that day, which was hard for me to do after my stroke, at first, as I lost the use of my right hand. In this picture I didn’t try to hide my right hand and I chose to wear my logo with pride because I still hold out hope that I’ll tattoo, again, eventually.

saeboThe Saebo device, pictured above, is to work on regaining muscle memory and strength in my right hand. It requires patience and perseverance. (www.saebo.com)

hot rod bettiesWe shot, in August ’14, for Hot Rod Betties’ “Betty of the Month.” This way we could market the store (located at 650 South Ave. in Rochester, NY) and James’ photography, killing two birds with one stone, as the dress was from the store.

On my right side, I have a subluxation in my shoulder and, again, I have little control over my hand. For the sake of the picture, whose main focus was the emulation of the dressed up pinup, I hid my right arm and gave no indication that my right leg and hip are troublesome.

I need to remember that, although I can’t get around as efficiently as I used to and I need help doing things that I used to be able to do on my own, I’m still beautiful. I, often, look for inspiration other people who, also, have had to face adversity in their lives. That way it’s easier for me to not give up and own what ails me and be proud of my body.

viktoriaOne of those people, for me, is Viktoria Modesta (image found on Google).

Viktoria, an amputee located in London, is being marketed as the “first bionic pop star” and is savvy when it comes to fashion and “power dressing.” She’s sexy and powerful. That makes me want to aim to feel that way and make me BELIEVE I could get there. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fiSAXr4UME , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jA8inmHhx8c)

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