Truth be told to you who say I’m strong… Truth be told, there are unending days I am no Warrior. For instance, to not admit I struggle with Friday’s makes me a fraud.
I could be all dressed up with somewhere to go, yet instead I’m at home in my jammies at 7pm.
Even though I have somewhere to go. I won’t.
Nine months ago I’d of been outta here, nine months ago I was. I was out at a live music show doing what I love, memorializing ‘the bands’ show.
But instead I am isolating and being reclusive.
I’ve not been able to really talk about this, but right now I seem able. That could all change tomorrow. Stroke recovery is like that, I find myself repeating “every day in stroke recovery is different.’
I’ve been an extroverted loner all my life. I’ve always been quite comfortable being alone, most often choosing solitude, yet I had a social side and liked being with people…well most people.
But now the extroverted side of me has apparently disappeared with the brain damage I suffered from the stroke that hit me last October. Being with people I love or even engaging with them on the phone I often find is simply too much. At least for today, and “For Today” is all I can manage.
Social media is the only place and time I feel somewhat comfortable being social, as it were. Knowing I can duck out at any give moment without being seen as rude or someone taking it personal gives me latitude to work with. I don’t feel like I have that option in person or even on the phone. Brain injury survivors tend to be hyper sensitive to stimuli. I am.
I find that I have been using isolation as a way to cope rather than to be overcome by the paralyzing social anxiety that has evolved post stroke, anxiety that will completely derail me, anxiety that is still so new to me.
I think the isolation has been a good coping tool but it’s a slippery slope.
I tried 4 different pharmaceuticals for anxiety only to experience side effects that were too much, Weeks into it I began to realize that I needed time to heal, not more drugs.
Surviving a stroke brings a host of new lessons for life, the learning curves can make a person feel like a first grader all over again. Initially the first six weeks post stroke I was doing wonderful. Part of the recovery assessment in the inpatient rehabilitation unit included a psychological assessment, both the psychologist and Speech Therapist told me I appeared to have a good handle on the traumatic (stroke) event. I was obnoxiously happy despite having had my life turned upside down.
Yet, coming home was another thing,
Despite being happy to be home, finally, there was still ambiguity. One of the things I find most intimidating is trying to resume some sense of a structured life again at the mercy of stroke survival.
Physical recovery is trying enough to structure at home and though the Rehab Unit had prepared me well by creating a exercise program to continue at home the mental and emotional recovery are a whole different thing. I found right away that I had become weepy, wordless, and my frustration and tolerance levels were scraping the barrel bottom. Add the Neuro Fatigue and everyday normal activities become enormous daily struggle.
The social butterfly side of me is now MIA.
It’s all been just too much.
I stopped taking phone calls. I stopped having visitors. I purposely allowed my world to shrink. Isolation is not always a good thing but it can have its benefits when used appropriately.
Causing people I care about to worry is NOT A GOOD THING. Nor is not nurturing relationships. This collateral damage crushes me with regret and guilt, yet it’s the way I’m coping with the anxiety that physically makes me ill and emotionally with paralyzing fear. I can’t seem to find a way to interact with people of significance in my life without becoming emotionally paralyzed and unable to breathe. Then my body starts to go numb.
This is anxiety. It’s debilitating.
Yet, i’s been allowing me to heal. Today I feel hopeful that I will get past this too. I feel progress. I have been to a couple of live music shows recently, and though I was wiped days after I am empowered to try again.
(On a personal not; I’m beyond grateful for everyone who understands and knows that it’s not personal. Thank you )