Who (and what) am I?

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Starting this out please take note: This introduction is a refresher to help people understand me. We will do more, something to share this for me to move forward.

There most likely isn’t really any chance I can share this in the correct ways. I know that for a fact, unfortunately. In 2016 as a passenger I was involved in a car collision, I, however, don’t want to share all the details. The only detail worth sharing, in this case, is the fact that I suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

I have looked through a lot about my ‘new life’, I need to share you may not completely understand me. This first post on the new blog is to share I am trying my best, despite what made its nest in my head. Don’t take any of this in a negative light, this is just to share how TBI is actually difficult. Most people, unfortunately, miss that point.

I’ve had someone point out to me in a discussion that I am toxic, just because I had to point out my injury to them again. There is unfortunately just a lot more you will need to understand before jumping to the conclusion you can ignore someone’s TBI.

In discussing things with family, friends and my psychologist, I feel slightly bad about the blog. Fortunately, it is something I should do for myself. They told me I should probably keep a diary, or something similar. I did for several months this year. I just can’t anymore, I enjoy reading less; I enjoy writing less. I don’t enjoy tons of the difficulties I have grown to accept.

The Guardian had a good article helping me decide how I should put this out there. It points out what I’ve had to deal with in the last few years. We are ‘treated as less than human’. I don’t enjoy saying it, it’s just what has come to my attention. The stories shared in the article hit home, not that people are getting to be toxic. Most people just don’t understand what this injury means.

This is not to be negative about anything. ‘We need to keep in mind that disability does not discriminate; any of us can join the disability community at any point in our lives. It’s not about them, it’s about us.’ I cannot work out another way to share that from what they said.

On one trip from Grahamstown to Johannesburg

I’m not a case study, please.

This may confuse you in several ways, it only comes from the fact that certain people ignore my medical conditions. Don’t worry I’m off medicine, don’t worry I forced myself back to university. I hate to break it to several people, but it is still literally a medical condition I still live with. Just because I came off the medicine doesn’t mean my brain just fixed itself.

The study grind doesn’t cut it when discussing this. Sure, I went through a lot to bring back any long-term memories. Sure, I want to visit my neurologist to discuss my recovery. Sure, I gave a guest lecture to psychology students this year. Sure, I am a case study, but that’s nowhere near the reasons for this blog. I don’t mind being a case study, just please not your personal case study. I offered to help in the ways shared here, you may be sad with me, let’s just rather defend against the depression that can get drawn out. Therefore, you will understand why it needs sharing. Get it out and then move on. This post will help people understand me.

David A. Grant had the perfect way of summarizing certain issues that rose from this. It appalls him that the injury could last a lifetime; I am appalled in the same manner. This is because I thankfully don’t remember the physical accident. The first time my brain started working again was after a long time in a hospital. I woke up on a hospital bed, said nothing, and did nothing. It felt like a lucid dream to me.

I struggle with memories. Long term and short term. I had the wishful dream of being back at university, I really want to finish my degree still. I was in third-year computer science and math major; I had a dream about the BSc degree. The only thing I remembered when lying on the bed was my roughly 13-hour drive from home to campus (>1000km drive) at the start of the year.

After a day or two from ‘waking up,’ I started to have questions. Perhaps, I’m actually in hospital…? My thoughts and feelings are still a mess. The unfortunate side is that I feel the damage, I’m just unable to accept it yet. This is over 2 years down the line.

The other thing Grant brings up is depression or sadness. I hope you never experience this, understanding your emotions is difficult. I don’t know how to lay it out correctly. From the clear-cut definitions, it would be easiest to share that whenever I get to the end of a project (practical, test, assignment, cooking, you name it) I hit the awful low. What doesn’t help me is that with time certain people forget I struggle with more than the average person… They accidentally miss I’m at my low and I need a bit of help.

Not that everyone does this, it isn’t saying they always do this. Under certain circumstances I just need a guiding hand to help bring me back to my feet (theoretically, I’m so glad I can walk still). Part of the reasoning for starting this open blog (which I feel I shouldn’t do, although they suggested it to help my recovery) is the fact that I can’t say the correct words and use correct sentences to share long messages. This will hopefully help you deal with my confusing nature.

I am only allowing myself to be a case study to my doctors and psychologists. We have all accepted I am friendly enough to help all the other victims. It may damage me, it’s just that I will not be a case you can’t deal with. I will try my best to prevent the need for that.

I enjoy botanical gardens, this one is in Johannesburg

Regain Your Life

This can go in several confusing directions. We need to make sure we train ourselves to be different.

My biggest grind, from the injury, is I struggle to keep new long AND short term memory. I have lived through the year with the need to rush to the bathroom (because I waited slightly too long), get to the bathroom door, panicked and rushed back to make sure I closed my room door. Every time: I did.

When regaining your life it will definitely be different depending on who you are. Sure, you can no doubt understand age differences easily. That is also not necessarily a deciding factor. I figure I might have used the wording slightly incorrectly in my guest lecture. With my damages, I’m stuck with a mind that keeps attempting to use the same neural pathways for memories I built years ago.

The guest lecture might be something I will share with you, eventually. There are several things that came from what happened to me, and I will try to keep everything simple and understandable.

I promise that it kicks my emotions constantly. Never mind the fact that regular people will hint at things and then fight me off in bad ways (keep hinting at a relationship? Eventually I mention it, so you treat me horribly?). People that suffered these kinds of things (like me) 99% of the time cannot control their emotions and feelings. If you want something: tell me and hold yourself to it. Let’s rather not hint at things constantly then treat each other with disrespect. Sorry, I hate to break it to you but this is real, but I am trying my best to move forward.

Because of this struggle I’ve had to accept the fact that I can no longer ask for things people hint at. Please don’t hint at something constantly, we can’t control ourselves completely. If you hate what you hint at, you shouldn’t have hints that constantly point to it as if you want it. The amusing side is certain people don’t accept the fact that it is something I will live with (even though I don’t want to, to be honest) for potentially the rest of my life.

Us victims will struggle with emotions and feelings. Phil Newton had the best words to use, many victims of traumatic brain injury experience personality changes, some subtle, some severe. I’m sure you can understand that we feel like the same person. That’s despite that fact that we may be different emotionally, I promise you we just cannot even see any of it. 

The slogan that fits best ‘there is a way!‘

When you answer with your negativity, you can damage or delay the recovery. Because of the intensity of what we suffered, I’m sure I am seeking this for tons of us, please be careful to not delay us ‘regaining our lives’. I’m sure this will most likely bring some hatred, I can endure it. Don’t worry about that, I might suffer the consequences, I’m just accepting I can be the one that points it out.

What helped me to bind the thoughts and emotions to something logical was the fact that it was brought to light by Dr. Diane. She’s a neuropsychologist that also suffered a brain injury. Her studies will be my next few reading books, it’s good for us to read but from what I’ve seen it will be a good recovery reading choice.

Another picture from one of the long trips

People with more education…

Sorry, this may sound like an aggressive thing to say, so I first off give my sincere apology. This article brought light to the story of my recovery. Sure, I have spent many years at university, that isn’t my complete reason to speak about this.

Before I started programming at high school, I taught myself to program. Well, I don’t completely remember it… I know my dad taught himself to program, and I followed suit, through his help I also learned to program. I figure that is pretty much as accurate as I can be. I learned at a young age that you can learn things, you just need to set your mind on it and move forward.

At the start of this year (2018) I was comfortable with several hours of programming last year. I was getting close to feeling perfect at it again. Though keep that in mind, ‘feeling’. On the ‘small side’ of my struggle, I have a huge difference in the hours I can concentrate on something.

My biggest difficulty this year was first building new paths to old memories, I tried tons of different methods. Write notes, rewrite notes, draw pictures on, and on… I kept looking up new ways to study. If it wasn’t for the dean of science, knowing my medical condition (I don’t want to use the struggle to describe it, ‘condition’ feels more acceptable) I wouldn’t have been able to continue past halfway through this year. The two sides that helped more: I started a complex analysis, and I felt I hadn’t seen it before, I finally found the perfect study methods for myself that were succeeding. You can no doubt understand how this feels slightly disastrous.

We will see on 13 December (this Friday) where I got with all of this. It is definitely a struggle I must share already. Sure, I’m not confident in anything. I feel I accomplished nothing really, we will see. What you need to do (please) to help someone with their recovery from a TBI is simple.

If we need help, please assist us. This year Nicole (and her friends) helped me in several ways, I didn’t ask them for it, really. Me not having to ask to help me was an amazing helping hand. They made me comfortable asking people questions again. It feels amazing how their help brought me closer to studying again.

Even if I’m not passing, I honestly don’t mind as much anymore. Well, I do, I just don’t feel dead anymore. Education can help us, sure I had a lot of education before my injury, it just pales compared to my education afterward. I’m more comfortable talking to people again, I’m finally more comfortable talking to people I don’t know. They helped me find my method for finally building my memory paths again.

I’m sure you can understand the fascinating idea of being able to work on a compiler (computer science), yet struggling for a while to use the imaginary number (complex analysis, and it is so simple). It feels like ‘leaps’ now that the year is ending, ‘bounds’ feels like it wouldn’t even get any distance on my journey.

We definitely need more people to be like Nicole and her friends in our lives. Without them, I would have still been struggling with an average of 10% for mathematics 3rd-year term tests. Sure, I tried constantly to fix things for myself. This is although certain people hate me for sharing things like ‘I hate to break it to you, I most definitely can’t do that yet.’

Slowly but surely I made it creep up when I finally worked out how to study again. Certain people need to learn their lessons, please: how I get treated should be that they accept my legitimate struggle, no bells and whistles. Because they accepted it, they didn’t mind constantly helping me. Victims, like me, need all the help we can get. I can share, from the case studies I looked at, we can’t immediately deal with everything. Please rather be careful with what you do to us (even if you hate us because of the need to be careful).

I like beautiful flowers

The Grind

I read a few articles to shed light on voicing the difficulties of the recovery process. I found a simple way to summarize what I needed for this. SpinalCord.com helps by explaining ‘The Grind’.

I mean, sure. It’s slightly harsh to have it defined like this, people just need to understand why I keep pointing out that certain people in my life help me forget the fact that the difficult recovery has tons of ‘grind’. When people treat it like they see it is legitimate, they have followed it with constantly helped me in tremendous ways. There are ‘naysayers’, but I can’t do anything besides asking them to please accept the reality.

There are quite a few ways these things can hit hard:

Confusion. Denial. Anger and depression. Testing phase. Uneasy acceptance

For everything I have, they are all fitting in different ways. It is just here to help you understand that there is no ‘fine line’ when it comes to instantly recover. We are all bound to the grind, so we wouldn’t mind if you were careful so you didn’t add difficulties. These are things we will need to associate ourselves with, our acceptance of the struggle is difficult. Don’t expect us to just be perfect tomorrow.

People might not understand this, it just also is what brings the struggles I have. Relationships. I’ve had to accept the crippling truth. I can’t let people hint at relationships (never mind tons of other things, just figure it’s the best example to use first). We are in a confusing Bermuda triangle of emotions; it staples these into our thoughts without us knowing. Therefore, people need to understand what is happening. For me, I have had to stop myself ever looking for one myself. I will one day get it back in my life, brainline.org pointed it out perfectly: In order for people with a TBI to maintain healthy, loving, romantic relationships, they will need support, encouragement, and understanding from their partner.

The woman that feels that about me must ‘put her foot forward’ and share she is interested in one. The lady that heard that and ‘put her foot forward’ treated me bad constantly after, I was bound by the excitement because she took up my offer. I may never see or hear from her again, which is honestly all right. Don’t ‘put your foot forward’ for me ever if you want nothing to do with me. I’m sure, after reading these things, you should understand that I literally have a legitimate struggle I need to hold. I can’t ever control my thoughts, feelings, and emotions (yet).

This article is accurate in describing the problems. The point is mostly that our grind can make it disastrous. When feeling like this, for any ‘relationship’ we have there is, unfortunately, a struggle in controlling ourselves (as a side note it’s a good idea to point out not even necessarily boyfriend/girlfriend, can even be with family/friends, acquaintances). I have to, carefully, ask you to please not contribute to ‘the grind’.

A flower again

Closing notes

I will try my best to keep this up to date (and growing). I will not do a daily blog post. I will try to think of something to do every week, at least once a week. I would preferably hear people’s opinions and thoughts on things like this (sooner, not later please, as I could take years to rely on my memory).

I will also bind my new YouTube channel here. Promote it, update content, set up a connection to the world (like emotional connection or something). If you or your kids loves Minecraft I would love to be a YouTuber you (or they) subscribe to. It feels like a nice hobby to do at home every day. What I shared above is very distant from my channel, it is mostly for computer gaming. ‘The grind’ is in it in a different way. Not a negative way, I mostly play ‘building’ games, so you can bring criticism for builds. You can (please) help me make things pretty (I don’t mind doing the Redstone grind for instance)!

I will try my best to bind my photos and things to what I took myself. I feel taking nice photos is comforting sometimes; I have a few.