Ok, I hope you can relate to what I’m going to post tonight, but maybe you won’t. Here’s the thing, I really don’t know what’s “normal” or what’s not normal in regards to my experiences after brain injury.
I had another appointment with my cognitive therapist this week, and God bless her (Angela C.) I’m not sure how she does what she does because if her patients are anything like me, then there’s a whole lot of craziness that comes through her door each day 🙂
I really have to give her kudos because I don’t know what her “role” is in my actual therapy. She’s obviously there to help me rebuild or learn to navigate through the changes that have happened after my injury, but I swear I threw a curve ball by asking her about the emotional craziness I’ve been dealing with over the past 10 months. I have to say she not only handled my emotional unraveling with professional grace, but she provided me with excellent advice.
As I mentioned before, she is above and beyond what I could ever ask for, so much so that I both forward and slightly dread meeting with her.
Now, doesn’t that seem a bit contradictory? Nope not really..let me explain.
I love going to my sessions because I know I’m going to get somewhere, make a step forward that I need, but I also end up tearing up about 5 times during our 45 minute to hour long session, and if there’s anything I hate to do, it’s to lose control of my emotions in front of other people.
My last session with Angela was no different, and to make matters slightly worse, I confided in her regarding my somewhat lack of ability to control my impulses.
I developed the brain injury in June, and one of the first issues I experienced with impulse control was in September.
I very suddenly decided to go to Jeffrey’s funeral. (Jeffrey had CPM, and was a very big source of support for those of us who have CPM/EPM.) He died very unexpectedly from an issue related to CPM.
I wanted to go to his funeral, but it was a very long drive and I was not supposed to drive alone because of the neurological issues that I had. It was extremely dangerous, and I was going to be alone. It was overall not a great idea!
But, I decided to go and I went. Well, about an hour into my drive, I thought, it was going very well, and wouldn’t it be great to travel across the country.
So, I called Tom, and told him I wasn’t going to go just to the funeral, and that I didn’t know when I was going to be home. I wanted to visit family and friends and see things that I’ve always wanted to see, like the Grand Canyon.
I didn’t even have more than 2 days worth of clothes with me. I was only going to the funeral and then straight back home the next day.
There are so many absolutely crazy things with that decision, but to name a few; lack of money, traveling alone, not having clothes or toiletries, not knowing where I was going or where I was going to stay….really folks the list quite extensive on why this was an absolutely crazy thing to do. But at the time, it didn’t seem crazy at all.
Fast forward several months, and I was on the way to return something to a store with my son. There was a pet store that was on the way. We stopped inside. I had NO intention of buying a pet, but after an hour, we were walking out with a puppy and about $200 in puppy supplies.
Now, anyone in my family could tell you, this was nuts. I would never spend money like that on a pure breed dog, let alone GET a dog.
The list really does go on and on with decisions that I am constantly making every day that is beyond my old scope of reason, as well as my ongoing dwelling on decisions. It takes me at least 3 times as long to try to make a simple decision.
SO, I was sitting in front of Angela explaining all of my crazy impulse issues, along with my recent sudden decision to end my relationship with Tom, and wanting to know if I was losing it…was this normal? Were these issues being caused by the brain injury or am I losing my mind in other ways?
Now that has to be a hard question to answer.
Of course, I’m distraught. Over the past 10 months, I’ve felt like I don’t know who I am any more. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. I don’t know if what I’m experiencing is “normal”, or if I’m losing my mind.
Has the brain injury changed me? Or am I changed because of the brain injury?
To me, it’s hard to distinguish between the two, so let me try to explain a little bit more about what exactly what I mean by that.
Having the brain injury change me, who I am and what I think, is something I can’t control. It’s something that I have to learn to manage and live with.
If I have changed because of the brain injury, then I am now making alternate, conscious decisions to do things differently because of some realization that my life is finite or live every day to the fullest type of mentality. I am in control. I am just choosing to do things differently because of the experience that I lived through.
I have always been a very responsible person. I’ve always made decisions that are in the best of interest in my family or myself, but I am not doing that now. I’m struggling to control my actions or failing completely at controlling them, and this is all extremely stressful to me.
This is what I was asking Angela, and it’s a difficult for any person to answer let alone a person who has only seen you 4 times, but she handled the question with great tact, and she gave solid advice…which is why I give her major kudos. If someone approached me with a similar question, I don’t know if I would have been able to give them a great answer.
She does think there is a physical response to the brain injury and issues with dopamine receptors in the brain…and this makes sense because I have other issues with tremors, shakes, jerks, spasms that are also from the brain injury that are also linked to dopamine receptors in the brain.
However, she also said that there is probably a psychological “root” to my current impulse issue which she explained with such extreme accuracy that it makes me think she is psychic. Either she has access to a medical history that I didn’t think was available to anyone, or she is totally psychic because she so accurately described my history that I wondered if she was related to me in some secret way.
I really don’t know how she did it.
That said, she advised me to not make any impulsive decisions for awhile. She told me that I was going to have to tell my inner child, “NO”.
I really think that’s going to be easier said than done.
Now, I’m going to go a little bit more in depth to why I’m feeling especially crazy since the brain injury, and this is something that I didn’t discuss with Angela, but I really think it’s important to bring up before I forget it again.
In the past few months, I’ve had this emotional disconnect from things, and it’s something that I really can’t explain.
It’s this growing ability to get angry quickly as well as feel completely void of feeling at times when I should feel something.
When I was being treated for EPM in the hospital, I felt his overwhelming sense of compassion, understanding and love for everyone, but now, I feel this lack of feeling for things, but I also tend to experience periods of inappropriate tearing.
I don’t really “cry” a lot, but my eyes will well with “tears”. This happens a lot when I discuss personal issues with my boss, which is a time that I really don’t want to be on verge of crying.
Seriously, I have such a lack of control of this at this point. It seems I have no middle ground. Either, I feel nothing, feel completely angry or am on the verge of crying.
It’s such an extreme range of emotions, but the one emotion that I haven’t really felt since having this injury (outside of the hospital) is a sense of love or happiness.
Now, right now, I’m blaming this issue on Tom. I’ve convinced myself that I’m not happy because of the stress in my relationship with him, but I have to pause to wonder if what I’ve always said is true: the only person who can make you happy is you.
If that’s the truth, then why I am not I happy? Why are the only major emotions I feel right now anger or frustration? Why am I so irritable over every little thing? Why am I going pretty much from one extreme to the other? Is this being caused by the brain injury? And if so, how will I get past it?
I do believe the brain injury has something to do with it. I’ve read a lot about how people with EPM/CPM tend to experience a shift in their personalities, but I really don’t remember everything I’ve read about it, and I am finding less and less time to research 😦
That said, I am hoping to look into this further, but I also HATE to make excuses for my behavior. I really believe ultimately that people have control of their decisions, etc and how the act.
I would LOVE your feedback regarding this post because truly this is one of the things that really eats at me. Are you experiencing anything that is similar? Have you noticed changes in yourself or your loved one with CPM/EPM? Are all of the things I discussed tonight just happening to me?
Let me know!