29 February 2012


The headaches I get today closely resemble the pain of my concussion. I had a friend once tell me that if you're still thinking about it (head trauma and it affecting you), that there probably is still damage.

Sometimes, when I'm spinning out or spiraling, I want to blame whatever unhealed portion of my brain is left. Whatever part that is. That's if there was any damage or damage remains. The portion that controls rational thought. The portion that controls feeling positive. Probably, mostly, the part that controls memory and retaining the positive and rational conclusions I already came to. Yes, the cause of spinning out is often not being able to get back to the positive and reasonable attitudes I came to because I struggled with remembering how I got to the good side. No, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, you can't have me.

Although you provide a great space for feeling sorry for myself.

Now, fuck off.

I don't know if there's truth to what my friend said or what I've thought, but it got me thinking anyway. It's had me pretty damned curious off and on over the years. If there was any truth to my wiggly hypothesis, it would only be because I haven't exercised that part of my brain enough, I'm sure.

What I've learned is that the brain can repair itself, but slowly, and you have to put all good things towards getting it healed: the desire to, memory exercises, therapeutic exercises, physical exercise, and diet. I wouldn't say I've been very good at any one of those things, save for maybe the memory exercises I got figuring out how to complete Sudoku puzzles when I worked at the crusher, even the higher difficulty ones, and waitressing.

But working and trying to eat healthy has helped. Every time I'm engaged in social settings, it helps. I used to be in the eye of too many social things, and that didn't help, because I needed alone time, too. But the needs of the brain for its health change as times change.

And, because there were many things going on in between the car accident in '99 and my job at the crusher in '05 requiring a lot of stress-induced, higher-level thinking while my brain was still processing the least of it, many impaired decisions were made.


"Impaired" can be taken however the hell it wants to be taken. A type of stoned or drunk level of thinking, wherein the person thinks heavily with their emotions. A type of light affectation, where whatever synapses that had fired with regularity before were not firing so fast, creating a slowed ability to process information. A type of excuse to fit any model of behavior, especially shocking or uncharacteristic behavior. A type of mental retardation that justifies ditzy behavior.

I was all of that.

Between the fog that everyone got sick of hearing about, the help I never got, the pain meds, and the gigantic fuck that was never given those days while I suffered in sheer frustration to find my classes on campus, remember my bassoon fingerings, start driving again, I was swimming--nearly drowning--in my own world.

But I was trying. I worked through it. Didn't make excuses.

I didn't lean on the least of those things. I never leaned on any excuses while trying to get my shit together. I wavered between wanting to throw up my hands in utter defeat and complained in the process, yes. I threw blame around, yes, then and later. I have done things that yes, ARE out of my "character," some of which are actually unfathomable, yes.

But it was always, always, always a bloody hard process, knowing that people were waiting for me to be me but it just not clicking. It was a world that was so very fucking real to me, yet enormously difficult to get the least picture painted for the least clueless person. But worse! The people who I cared the most about! Trying to get them to understand, to give a fuck? Nada! I know they all got sick of hearing about "The Fog" I was in. But I just needed a little more help, a little more spoon-feeding. Just until I got back on my feet.

And what the fuck IS my "character" anyway? What did people perceive of me?

I do know, no matter what any single person has said, be it family, friend, or foe: I have done everything in my power to own every fucked up thing I've ever done. And everything I have ever done, fucked up or awesome, I only did out of making a decision based on all the facts I could have possibly gathered and had in my possession at those times. At an impaired, fucking capacity.

Tell me what person alive hasn't done the same kinds of shit with even more supposed elevated cognitive function.

This is what I've been trying to get the people closest around me to understand for years. Since the butt crack of time and my skull (it didn't really crack, there were no contusions or fractures in the x-rays), I have been frustratingly trying to get people to understand this and back the fuck off. In some ways, it's been a theme in my life: people all around me, people since the dawn of time, having some kind of expectation of me and then coming down on me for their own disappointment because I did something that surprised them.

The hell? What were you expecting, then, dear sir, madam, friend, person of puritan-based ideological west? Furthermore, why do people gotta be on my ass about it? That's my thing: you don't know what you're going to get with me, so long as you're going to be an ultra-conservative, whitey, Anglo-saxon puritan who pretends that life is a white picket fence in the sheltered suburbs of western North America. I grew up in one and I am grateful to my parents for their love and nice shelter. But I will say this: it cost my deeply-rooted, Latina, passionately-craving side dearly. Very fucking dearly.

The bottom line is that my head trauma should have been at least a big, old red flag for people to shut up and cut me some slack, accept me at face value or whatever, but it didn't. This whole "we're surprised Amy has a brain and uses it for ideas different than we're used to" bit was old before I even left home; it was been going on long before the accident. It's a theme that runs back into my childhood quite a ways. 

These two elements are not actually completely wrapped up together, but for my life, and for my experience, trying to make sense of this, while trying to get my head wrapped around daily effing life with a concussion!, it totally is, and I really hope that those around me will start to think a little more open-mindedly, with a little more strength of heart, and a little less auto-pilot.

Infinitely and exponentially above and beyond that is my hope that I always have the strength to keep being me.

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