After several weeks of feeling depleted due to my Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), I finally am starting to feel a little pep in my step. I decide to celebrate by giving you a good old-fashioned blog essay!
Something is freeing about feeling like I have a little control over my TBI. I think because for the first several years after the injury all I felt was a complete lack of control. So I was inspired to actually write for this weekly blog. I follow several blogs where the bloggers write consistently long and thoughtful and well-composed blog posts. I always admire that because I usually end up relying a lot on imagery. Pre-TBI Laura could bang out a lot of words quickly (I would write 20-page papers for graduate school on my lunch break [I don’t recommend this] that I would get ‘A’s on). Post-TBI Laura has to work harder to come up with a lot of words. This week I try to get back in touch with pre-TBI Laura by just writing!
I am participating in a weekly writing session held on Zoom. It’s meant to motivate writers and keep us accountable for meeting our writing goals. Through this weekly session I am writing more. And because of that it is causing me to compare how I used to write with how I write now. I try not to compare because that’s an unhealthy and unhappy trap to fall into (especially after my accident). However, comparison in this case is just helping me see what kind of writer I am now.
As I write more I realize that when writing emphasizing emotion is a natural, yet post-TBI emphasizing emotion in real life is far from natural. Here’s a short thing I wrote to show emphasis in writing.
“Billy! Put that back!” Billy’s Mom said insistently. The boy had missed his nap and was throwing a tantrum while grocery shopping with his Mom. He grabbed a candy bar off the shelf and tried to throw it in the cart. In his blurry, half-awake state he missed. Billy proceeded to throw his whole body on the grimy linoleum floor in a violent crying fit. “Billy!” his mother said sweetly at first to try and sooth the toddler. The boy preceded to sob uncontrollably and roll around on the floor in his tantrum state. “BILLY! GET UP RIGHT NOW! I AM NOT PLAYING AROUND!” Billy’s Mom yelled. She crouched on the floor and gently pulled the crying toddler into a standing position and turned his sweaty little body so that he was facing her. “Look at me Billy! Look at me NOW!” “I will tell your father how you’re acting right now and he will want to punish you for behaving this way and giving your mother such a hard time.” Billy’s Mother spoke to him quietly but emphatically, putting special emphasis behind “tell your father” and “punish.” With each emphasized word Billy’s watery eyes got big. After she finished talking to him she stood up and took his hand and they walked quietly to their once abandoned grocery cart. They finished their shopping with the boy behaving as he quietly swallowed his tears and sulked as he closely followed his mother. Magically when they got home Billy’s Mom forgot to tell Billy’s Dad about the grocery store incident and instead she let Billy have an extra long nap clutching his favorite teddy bear, Mr. Wiggles.-Short-Short Story by Laura Hagemann to illustrate emphasis in writing.
Now I’m going to give an example of my lack of emphasis in real life post-TBI.
I was upset because the tiredness from my brain injury had reached such an intense level of exhaustion that I felt the weariness in my bones. The longer I sat in the loud restaurant, the more numb I felt. All the chaotic noise blended into an uncomfortable jumble of white noise (as sound always does now post-TBI). I couldn’t separate the exhaustion from the pain caused by the intense aural distortions and so my brain did what it always does now… it got confused. I could tell by the smiling faces that those with me were enjoying themselves. My suffering was unique and singular. However, as time passed I forgot to be upset and the wearying exhaustion took over. I had no feelings. I was just tired and daydreaming of my comfortable pajamas and my soft bed where the only sound in my quiet bedroom would be the tiny snores of my sleeping dog cuddled next to me.A brief essay on forgetting emotions and emphasis post-TBI By Laura Hagemann
What this exercise did was show me that even though emotions are spare and fleeting now I can still write about emotions and write characters with emotions. It’s very strange going from someone who was quite emotional to this. I suppose the benefit is that I still have memories of emotions and what that felt like, so now my writing is based more on what I remember emotions were like. I suppose this sounds sad… that emotions don’t penetrate through the Traumatic Brain Injury. However, I am choosing to just be happy that I can still write about emotions. (Oh, and now I want to write more about Billy and his Mom!)
Monthly Feature of the Week and new blog feature: Mini Essay- Residual Feelings
I have written about how my feelings are different after my TBI. Mainly I feel not very connected to them. I can’t cry very easily but anger comes much more readily. I was the exact opposite before the TBI. Now when I do experience emotions they pass pretty quickly and there doesn’t seem to be much residual feelings left over. In other words I can be really angry one minute and the next be completely fine and have no residual feelings of anger left over. Tears if they do penetrate the TBI don’t last long. Before the TBI I used to make myself sick with emotions. I could get so emotional that I would feel sick to my stomach. In actuality, the more I talk to my psychologist the more I realize that anxiety had a fierce grip on my pre-TBI emotional life. Now I don’t have anxiety because I don’t have enough residual feelings to hold onto anxiety (and that’s certainly not a bad thing).
Writing News: I’m Published!
I realized that I have forgotten to say in this blog that I have an essay that was included in a book that was just published. The book is “But You Don’t Look Sick: The Real-Life Adventures of Fibro Bitches, Lupus Warriors, And Other Superheroes Battling Invisible Illness.” You can purchase it on Amazon. It was published by Indie Blu(e) Publishing. My essay is called “Still Invisible” and it’s about how having suffered from migraines and Fibromyalgia, I was mildly relieved to “look sick” immediately following my accident. I was excited to share this bit of news on Facebook and in real life but forgot to officially share it here!