Sunday, December 13, 2015

New Doctors

     Oh good gracious, it feels like a LONG time since I've written. But, over the last few weeks I have been running myself dry every single day. Much of this has to do with new doctors and a personal trainer that have just been introduced into my life. I will admit however, that it is totally my fault that I am exhausting myself to the point of no return. At least that's what it feels like - when you wake up in the morning and you don't even want to get out of bed, to do anything. I can't even get up to brush my teeth, or say prayers, or thank Heavenly Father for everything He has done for me. I can't even get up to get a drink of water. But all of this exhaustion is from great, tremendous efforts however.
     Doctor numero uno - Dr. Hatch. He is incredible! I think that he is one of the smartest men out there. I will tell him a problem I've been having and he will tell me that it's a malfunction of this one particular neruopathway. "So, let's fix it!" he'll say. He also knows how to find out the emotions that are hard wired in your subconscious. So he is having me do 5 different exercises 4-8 times a day. That is the first thing that's wearing me out.
     Personal Trainer - Wow. Can we talk about muscle imbalances??? Actually I later mentioned it to Dr. Hatch and he put the pieces together for me that when I was hit by the backhoe, it sent my brain propelling backwards, so now I find my center of balance leaning way back. (We also did tests and stuff and it was really kind of funny). So that's why all of my muscles in the front of my body are overcompensating for the muscles in the back of my body. My body knows that I need to be perpendicular with the floor, but my brain thinks otherwise. So my muscles have been trying to overcompensate for 5 1/2 years! But anyway, so with ALL of these muscle imbalances, I've been given like 18 different exercises to do to strengthen these muscles. And I also need to do cardio (so that I can see my 6-pack). Furthermore, Dr. Hatch also told me that I should be doing one of his exercises after I do the strength exercises so that my body will not still feel like it needs to be falling backwards. It exhausts me just to write about it!
     Last new doctor - Dr, Fong. Oh my goodness. She treats mild concussions and severe TBIs both. But she told us that she had never been quite as shocked as she was when she looked at my scores. We started her treatment regime by doing an fMRI (functional MRI). For someone with an injury as severe as mine, with a glascow coma score of 3, someone who lived solely by the grace of Jesus Christ, my scores from the fMRI were outstanding. It provided me with assurance that every stupid little thing that we have done over the last 5 years 7 months and 1 day has been doing something good. We have been supporting my little brain in every possible way for the last 5 1/2 years. There is not a single thing that we have done that hasn't made some kind of impact. There isn't a single thing that I have done that hasn't made me so much better than I would have been. I should have been on the extremely dysfunctional results of the fMRI, but I wasn't. Don't get me wrong, I still struggle - severely - in specific areas (like social, go figure), but because of all of the HARD, excruciatingly difficult work that I have done. I am NOT where I am expected, where I should be. Dr. Fong has a completely different spin on making changes, and "fixing" the TBI. I will have to go through a week long "therapy on steroids" (therapy meaning like PT, OT, Speech, not like let's listen to your feelings). And I'll be doing this right in the middle of school. So I'm excited, but also scared. If I'm barely holding on now, I don't know how I'll be able to manage that. But it will be worth it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Continuing Trauma

Doctors have said that the damage from the TBI has been done (from the impact) and will not get progressively worse. The initial impact is what caused my brain to shake, my skull to burst, and my cranium to bleed. Therefore all of the physical damage should be consumed by the accident on May 12, 2010. While I agree with the logic, I am not entirely sure I agree with the practicality of it. Like a soldier might begin to go into a panic attack every time they hear something that resembles the sound of a gunshot, Post Traumatic Relationship Disorder PTRD or Post Traumatic Brain Injury PTBI (or whatever you want to call it) is very similar. 
I honestly am not really afraid of anything - spiders, snakes, darkness, public speaking, death, etc - except for one thing: abandonment. Which really bites because I've been abandoned so many times, and continue to be abandoned. But I think that's why it scares me so much, because I know how miserable you feel. I am absolutely ridiculously lonely; I'm chained in a throne of torture.  
          I have family who support me and I feel their love. But there is something uniquely different about feeling support of peers - the people who don’t have to love you no matter what. Degraded because there isn’t a peer out there who I feel like really cares. I’ve felt the sorrow more than enough times, I’m positive.
          Oh, but if it isn’t hard enough just to have people ignore me for who knows why, the thing that causes more anguish is the avoiding. All that I have ever been is someone who loves to make others happy, loves being around people. So this generates so much hopelessness.
          I just quit my job because I could no longer take the scorning I would get for using my time wisely. I would literally have to internally suffer because my boss would get mad at me for cleaning the bathroom. I was unappreciated or even depreciated by cleaning the center, improving my skills, keeping myself busy when the center was vacant. The heartache this would cause me every single day! I would come home in so much despair that finally I had had enough.
          But it’s not just with peers or colleagues, it’s with the general public. I go unacknowledged all over the place. Whether it be youtube, facebook, instagram, this blog, etc. No one knows, no one cares; desperation. I am undervalued, because I am worth a whole lot more than I’m being treated. All of this dehumanization causes the depression to grow and grow and grow to the point that I can't continue moving forward.

          I recognize that this is one of my worst blog posts, but the point of this post is two-fold. The first is to (as always) raise awareness of the struggles of a TBI. The consistent struggles, things that don’t go away. The second is to try to help others understand just how much it hurts to not respond to someone. How it magnifies that pain when you go out of your way to not see them, not talk to them, or block them. Whether I’m liked or disliked, at least tell me to my face. Please, have a little decency. And finally, please have a very Happy Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

#ShannontheMiracle

Okay, so my last post, I said that I was going to upload songs onto youtube. I will, I haven’t yet because I haven’t had access to my music as my computer has failed on me. But, I will upload all kinds of good songs that are worth listening to. I will upload songs that are fun, good music that have shaped my life in some way or another. Worth listening to. My youtube channel is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClzUohViVFqgivMwsxFyubQ.
Next, let me share with you what happened to me last Wednesday.  So I woke up at 3:30 (am) and felt like I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep. This is a very, very common thing with TBIs. I once said that I didn't think that God would always make it so that I could sleep great every night because sleep doesn't have much to do with your eternal salvation. But I prayed this morning to help me go back to sleep anyway. I had a great big day ahead of me; we were leaving out of town the next morning. I needed to bring things home from my condo, then pack stuff at home, I wanted to exercise and shower, do my hair really cute, I needed to take my car in to figure out what was wrong with it, I had to go to work, I wanted to see a couple of people, etc etc. So I prayed that I would be able to sleep for just a few more hours so that I would have the energy to do all of these things. But I felt "no." "Are you kidding? Please!!!" "No Shannon, trust me." "GRRR! Okay, I will trust thee." So I got up and started moving. (No by Cherie Call - I promise I will put all these songs up as soon as I can). So this kind of set me up to look for God's hand everywhere throughout the day. I can't remember all of the ways, but I do remember like 2 or 3 times every hour, saying "Thank you Heavenly Father!" Two of the distinct ways that I do remember however, I will share. The first is when I began to recognize that I was hungry as my stomach continued to growl. (Yes, I can't really tell when I'm actually hungry). But I also had decided that I was not going to eat crap and I was at UVU without my car (long story). Where could I get non-crappy food around campus? I didn't know, but I started walking. Then God led me straight to a Jamba Juice. Huzzah! So I got myself one of their healthier smoothies. A little bit later, I called Toyota to see if my car was fixed, it was so I told them I'd be there in like 10 minutes. So I began to walk towards where I thought was the exit of the building. I got lost and stuck and ran around the campus for nearly an hour. I was about to break. I was praying, asking for someone to come and help me find my way out, my eyes were watery and I could barely hold in my tears. After about an hour of this I eventually got out of the stupid new building at UVU that I was very, very unfamiliar with. (One more thing that TBIs do NOT deal with very well, AT ALL). Anyway, then as I was walking back to the Toyota dealership, it suddenly occurred to me. "Heavenly Father knew I wasn't going to be able to exercise when I got home, and he also knows how important it is to me - although I don't think it's important to Him - that I have visible 6 pack abs, so he made it possible for me to get in a good work out. Oh how the Lord works in mysterious ways! (Better Promises by Hilary Weeks)
One last thing. Although this is the most important. I have decided to start an experiment. This experiment is something that I may work on for the rest of my life. I am calling this experiment #ShannontheMiracle. I truly believe that I returned to this God forsaken world so that I can bring people to Christ.  I knew that I would have a very strong, powerful approach because I am a miracle save the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ and the Eternal Father. So, what I am doing is I am encouraging all people – especially non-members –to come unto Christ by looking into real life stories of how He changed these people; of how He comforted them in times of terror and grief.  So, what I’m asking of all of you, is to post (on facebook, google+, your own blog, comments on this blog, wherever) you’re faith-promoting experience with my accident and include #ShannontheMiracle and #JesusChrist. The point is I want to bring others to Christ, and I believe that I came back to Earth so that I could be a catalyst in making that happen. So, let’s do it. I am now asking for your help. In case anyone sees or feels something and they become curious, I want stories that they can find of how my accident, recovery, and determination has shaped them. I want testimonies of our Savior, Jesus Christ. These stories do not have to be anything great. I know I have not changed everyone dramatically, but if my accident has changed you in anyway, whatsoever, please, write about it. Thanks!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Songs for Encouragement

"...Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong..." D&C 121:45
Oh how the days seem longer and harder. Yes, my perspective has changed, but that in no way means that life is any easier or that my days have been much better. My conversations with other members of the church have been a little bit more uplifting, rather than discouraging. I am trying to be a beacon of light towards all men, but I'm not sure whether that's working or not. I do not want to be overly negative, but I do not want to say that life has just magically become perfect, because it has not. I am trying to let faith guide my life. I am listening to good, spiritual music. If anyone wants a list of artists, or a sample of these songs, email/text me. And these are not motab songs, many of them are pop, or upbeat, or fun in some way or another. I love these songs with all my heart. Typical Girl by Cheri Magill was very influential in becoming the kind of person I am today. Beautiful to Him by Rachel Thibodeau as well as Beautiful Inside by Kirby Heyborne (also Everclean) and Never Be Another by Jenny Jordan Frogley taught me that I don't need to care what the world thinks of me. I Am by Nichole Nordeman and Names by Cherie Call has strengthened my testimony of the Savior's constant role in our lives. All the Way by Trey Warner (from Pride and Prejudice) and This Day by Jenny Jordan Frogley has lifted me up and kept me going. All that I Can Give by Cherie Call is one of my favorite songs around Christmas time. Beautiful Heartbreak by Hilary Weeks is a song that has gotten me through a lot of crap that I've had to suffer because of my TBI, or any challenge. Hero also by Hilary Weeks, reminds me that I need to serve others anonymously. Believe by Cherie Call tells me that life is never over, and that Christ is always there, even if it's in the final watch. My Giant and Self Portrait  by Stephanie Smith remind me that it is the carnal, sensual, temporary man who keeps my self-esteem down. I'm sure that I have overwhelmed you with so many songs, and I'm going to make sure that they are on youtube, if they are not, and maybe even if they are, I will upload them. The artists I listed more than once (Cherie Call, Hilary Weeks, Jenny Jordan Frogley - and Cheri Magill) are worth looking up more of their songs. This last one is not an LDS artist, but imagine singing it to the Savior - You're the Reason by Victoria Justice. Again, sorry to overwhelm. But, when you have the time, they are worth looking up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tough Things Made Possible

This last week has been harder than it ever should have been. Multiple times a day I would have to say to myself, "Shannon, you are here for a reason; don't get discouraged; find that light; be strong; you can do this; this will not be your undoing" etc, etc. Because quite honestly, this week I have had a LOT of things attack me; things I felt would just destroy me. But, we must stand out from the crowd, we must be different. This was the "theme" many of us took from General Conference. So that's what I've been trying my best to do.
Each week I am posting a different scripture on my door so that I see it before I leave. This has helped me be a little bit stronger. So let me share them with you. Last week, the scripture was Joshua 1:9, which goes something like this: ...be strong and of a good courage, for the Lord thy God is with thee; withersoever thou goest. Applicable, right? Yeah well, how about this week... Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." I didn't search for these scriptures, they fell into my lap (in a sense). I testify that the Lord knows exactly what we need. As a matter of fact, He knows what we'll need years later. For example, when I was a young teenager, I would collect the little cards that would come out in the New Era. I would look at them, and then put them in my drawer, so it was good, but there wasn't a real purpose as to keeping them. Until today. Today I put them all around the family room in my apartment. This is one way that I am keeping the light burning within me, and being  missionary to my roommates.
As far as more-TBI related stuff.... As many of you may or may not know, math has always been my thing. I've been really good at it for as long as I can remember and I developed a desire to teach AP Calculus in my AP Calculus class. My current job is tutoring kids with math. I have been so frustrated because I can't remember things that I should know. That and the new curriculum that they are teaching in schools is absolutely awful. So I asked my boss if I could take an assessment to determine where I would place in Mathnasium's (where I work) curriculum. It took a lot of digging, and it took me to full on cognitive fatigue a couple of times - so I had to leave and come back, and it hasn't officially been scored yet. But, I feel very confident in all of my answers. What? Wait a second, but I suck at math now. Yeah, so it takes me a lot longer, but maybe I don't suck at math. I don't know. So for someone dealing with a TBI, I'm saying that while there may most definitely be things that will be lost - especially for TBIs as severe as mine - that not everything is a lost cause. Some things, the things that really matter to you, with a lot of Heavenly Father's help, you can still obtain the info that you have locked inside of your head. Yes, there is no doubt that it will take longer. there is no doubt that it will be harder, but you can still access it through the atonement of the One who saves us all. Granted, not all TBIs are the same, for some, life will not be this hard. I'm just warning you for the worst. But oh how great it is to finally fully - admittedly -rely on the Lord!
Just a few further notes. First, take a look at the new poll, and please vote. Second, if you friend request me on facebook and I don't know you, please write me a message or something, otherwise I will not add you. Yes, I am one of those weird people that only adds people I actually know. Follow me on instagram, believe in Christ, and know that He is the only way that I am still here. I love the Lord and yes times are extremely difficult, but I am excited.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A New Perspective

Conference weekend was incredible for me. I wrote down many, many questions I had going into General Conference. Then I tried to pay attention really well and take notes on all the speakers so that I could get answers to my dozens of questions. Unfortunately... my TBI brain cannot last quite so long, but I still got some very important instruction.
Elder Lawrence's talk on Saturday morning instructed us to go to the Lord and ask "What lack I yet?" or "what do I need to do to further my own progression?" Between sessions on Sunday, I went upstairs, knelt down and did just that. I didn't get any sort of answer like Elder Lawrence talked about. I didn't feel the Holy Ghost telling me what I needed to do next. But instead, I gained so much more. 
Let me talk about two things that occurred. First, I distinctly realized as I was communicating with my Father in Heaven that I am the same person, the same beloved daughter of God that I always have been. The same spirit I was before the accident. Yes, the TBI gets in the way all too often, especially in my dealings with other people, but in the end, in Heavenly Father's eyes, I am still His righteous daughter. So, as I was beginning to do anyway, I have changed everything back to Shannon Blackham. (P.S. I have an instagram account -ShannonBlackham- and you should follow me!)
But the second thing is far more important. I learned why I am still here. Yes there have been little things along the way that I've said, "maybe..." but no, now I know. It is none of the "maybes" from before. The reason why I chose to live is because I said "Lord, I will return to be a living, walking, breathing testament of thy reality, of thy love, and of thy infinite atonement." So this is what I have decided to change my life to be. After having this newly acquired vision, I have felt so much better, so much stronger. I have been able to take things that would have been devastating even hours before, I have been able to resist temptation when it is right in front of me. I have the desire to do good continually. Because I am here - quite literally, I am here to show the world that we have a Father in Heaven who sent His Son, who came as a baby and changed the world. Through Him we can each do things we never thought possible. Through His infinite atonement, we do not have to suffer alone, and our sufferings can be made light. I am a living testament of that. As such, I will go throughout the world proclaiming His name and rejoicing in His grace. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Riley "Difference"

Riley, Shannon, Sam, Ellie, Lindy, honestly, I don't care. Call me whatever you like. As long as you can tell the difference between the TBI and me. This is why I created the persona "Riley:" to make the distinction not matter. But truth of the matter is that I can't live with myself as Riley, as Shannon, as any other name when the TBI is in control. I wanted to change my 'identity' (if you will) so that I could say that all of the weird things I do because of the TBI are simply quirks. But, I can't do that. I am so frustrated with myself because of a few different things.
First thing I'm upset about is this. As I have described before, I felt like I was in a state of limbo for the last 5 years, not knowing who I really was. I am clearly no longer Shannon (from before my accident) and I really, really don't want to be the stupid TBI. But the TBI is in control so much of the time. So I decided to create a new identity - Riley - as a person who has a TBI. The problem however stems from my approach to the image of someone with a TBI. Each and every time that I feel confident in saying that my name is Riley, is when I am upbeat, positive, on top of life, similar to the way I was before the accident, or when I would love to be called Shannon.
When the TBI is in control, you might as well just call it what it is; TBI, traumatic brain injury, head injury, backhoe to the head, whatever. Just don't associate me with my TBI. The brain injury is one heck of a difficult battle that requires constant struggle to do the simplest of tasks. It takes so much effort, so much motivation, so much energy, so much thought to brush my teeth, wash my hands, say prayers, change clothes, etc. So yes, it is a tremendous battle that I have to fight every single second of every single day.
I think I've finally come to a point however that I've accepted that Shannon has a stinking awful TBI. But I created Riley with false pretenses; she doesn't really have a TBI, she owns the TBI. So yes, I would love for the people in my past to separate the Shannon before the accident with the Shannon now. But, I can't really control that.
It doesn't matter what you call me, it wouldn't even matter if I legally changed my name, went into witness protection and moved across the country. The person inside of me will never fade away; I'm always going to be an over-achiever; even with the biggest challenges of the TBI. I'm always going to have certain expectations that I feel I have to live up to regardless of what my name is. Yes, my brain injury changed a lot about me, but it didn't change the person inside; and trying to change my identity won't do that either.
So honestly, it doesn't matter what you call me. But I still feel like Shannon inside, except for the times when the TBI is in control. And in those times, I don't feel like anyone, I am just the TBI.

Monday, August 31, 2015

What Should I Do?

   There are some times where I feel that I am still in the rough of this emotional recovery. There are some times where it is just really, really bad and I just feel awful and I cry. But the rest of the time, I ask the same question as everyone else, "what the crap am I doing?"
   And it's difficult; let me explain why. I'll start with school. I was informed a while back that Vocational Rehab would not fund my education if I went back to school this year. Furthermore, one day as I was contemplating what I should do with my life, I had a strong feeling that school is not something that I should continue pursuing. I felt like this was something the spirit was telling me, so although I am capable, it is something that is not worthwhile. I am going to follow that inspiration.
   Next, work. I have enough limitations that I can't do many - dare I say most - jobs; especially entry level positions. When school doesn't seem to be an avenue for me, I want a job I can see a future in, but all of these kinds of jobs require a degree. Since I don't have a degree I'm stuck. Although I have applied for some jobs, and I've gotten called in for an interview. I felt I interviewed very well, yet I didn't get the job. Is this the Lord telling me that it's not time for me to have a job yet?
   Okay, so then what do I do? If school and work are both out, then what? I can't go on a mission, I can't travel for too long, etc. How about focusing on relationships? I don't know where to start. Friends that I have made (from school, work, in my ward, etc) don't care after I am out of their presence. No, I am not talking about they don't call, we don't see each other, we don't hang out. Although all of that is true, I am talking about these people not answering my calls or texts, they won't talk to me. I have been through enough heartache and loss that I can take people leaving me, but what still gets to me, is when people just leave and they won't tell you why. When people just walk away and they never look back. So yeah, relationships seem to be a pitfall too.
   So what should I do Heavenly Father, what should I do?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Things We Take for Granted

     There are many things in life that we all take for granted; things that none of us realize - unless one receives a traumatic brain injury. I am not going to explain all of the little things that the brain does for us that we take for granted, but I am going to give you just a small glimpse of how frustrating a brain-injured life can be.
     Have you ever just fallen on your couch after a long, hard day and enjoyed the peaceful quiet? Those times that you don't have kids screaming, or the blender going, or traffic blowing past your ears. I think you should all know what I'm talking about. Unfortunately, for me, I don't get those moments anymore. I have hypersensitive ears that hear EVERYTHING. Remember plopping to the couch? Yeah, when I do that, I hear the air conditioner, noises from outside, the fridge running, lights or electronics whirring, etc. It's called filtering; your brain is so smart that it deciphers what is or is not important for you to hear, see, smell, etc. So even if I turn on relaxing music or something, I still hear the stupid light buzzing, or the air vent from outside, or even the glitches in the stereo. That's only external noises. The noises inside my head are awful. I don't know how other people think, nor do I remember how I used to think. But I know that among other things, now, I replay situations over and over, I obsess over small things, I am irritated by little things that myself or others do, I am overwhelmed very easily and I wish I was different in nearly every single way.
     Like I mentioned, filtering does not apply just to noises; it applies to every one of your senses. For example, lights can be too bright, too dim, too many different colors, coming from too many directions etc. You can sit down to eat and you can't determine the different smells between the steamed broccoli, caesar dressing, garlic bread, the baby's diaper, your sister's shampoo, your dad's cologne, etc. One of the worst feelings is when I hate feeling the clothes on my skin. It could have something to do with different fabrics on my body that my brain has to go through or it could just simply be that there are times that I just feel literally uncomfortable in my own skin. When your brain has to manually do the work to try to maintain stability, cognitive fatigue becomes a very common occurrence.
      Another symptom of a TBI that affects areas of the brain such as mine is that it messes with your temperature regulator! What does that mean? That I am always cold. Yes, it is the middle of summer but guess what happens at my apartment? I don't have the AC on, I still have my winter clothes out (like my fleece-lined tights that I'm wearing right now),the electric blanket is on my bed year-round, and I sometimes have the heater on in my room.
     Then there is something that no one can quite figure out what exactly happened. My feet ache; all the time. I can't stand in one place for longer than maybe 2 minutes, Exercising is a joke; rollerblading, jumping on the tramp: not for long! Not even a walk on the beach, in the cool/warm sand feels even remotely good. I have a foot doctor that I see, I have inserts in my shoes, I cannot get relief.
     Sleep is awful, fatigue is a beast, negativity is constant, motivation is never there. I lost my perfect sight, I can't communicate the way I used to, I can't learn like I used to, I can't process through thoughts, feelings, or emotions. All of these are just some of the things we don't notice that we have going for us until a TBI. All TBIs affect people differently; depending on cause, location and severity. Although many of these things are very common for all people with moderate to severe head injuries, these are some of the challenges that have been dealt my way.
     I make this post not to complain or have anyone pity me. I'm not doing terrible or anything, frankly I'm not doing much of anything but I felt like I needed to post. I write this post to educate, to inform and to teach. I believe that a reason why I made it through all of this nasty crap is so that I can be a voice for all of those people (TBI or non-TBI) who don't have, are too quiet, or don't understand how to, have a voice.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Riley? Shannon?

I guess I might as well share a little bit of humor to begin this post. Yesterday I had a modeling gig, so I got up, showered, washed my hair, did other things that I hate doing, etc. Then when I got out of the shower, I started putting lotion on (which may be of value to mention that the primary reason I was even putting lotion on was because I'm burnt - bad - and peeling like crazy - not because I enjoy nurturing my body :P). Then, I realized that I still had hairy legs. I thought, "do I really have to get back in the shower-tub and shave? I'm going to a modeling thing, yes, but... Most the time I have pants on anyway, but crap, this is a fitness shoot, so I'll likely be in yoga shorts. Ah crap, back in the tub we go..." My mom thought it was funny enough to give you all a laugh.
     Now, to the purpose of the post. Many people ask me "What do you want me to call you now; Riley, or can I still call you Shannon?" The answer is much more complicated, but let's say both, either, depends. Let me explain. First let's see if I can tell you exactly what I told my 6 year old nephew. The reason why I decided to go by Riley is because after the accident my brain makes much slower, stupider, decisions. That is not who Shannon is. So I don't want people to correlate Shannon with who I have become because of the TBI. I guess the biggest influence in all of this has been my loss of everyone who loved Shannon before the accident. If nothing else, I want those people to stop correlating the person who they knew and loved with the person that they see now.
    Both? How does that work? Well, I've decided that to the general public, (again I'm not legally doing anything) my last name will be Shannon. So if you call me Shannon, it will be like you know me professionally, or from the army or something like that, no worries. Either? I would like to be known as Riley - at least to new people - specifically peers - but I am not upset at all if you call me Shannon. I will address later some other reasons why I would love if you call me Riley though. Depends? This is vital. If you have ANY ill feelings towards me, anything that just kind of gets under your skin, please, PLEASE call me Riley. I WILL NOT be offended, I promise. Besides, I won't know why you are making the effort to call me Riley; I won't know if it's for this reason or for other reasons (like what I will mention below). There is a difference for the people who know my spirit - the true me, for those people, it genuinely doesn't matter what you call me in the slightest. But, Shannon L Blackham was a much higher person than having people hate who she is, and I'm sick and tired of allowing the TBI to take that away from her. So I ask you to associate who I am today with the name Riley, because technically Riley is "Shannon affected by a TBI." And moving forward, I will always be affected by a TBI, whether it shines as Shannon or as a complete jerk, I'm being affected by a TBI.
     The hardest thing is for me to see myself as a different person. But especially when I am a total jerk, I am a different person - because of the TBI. I am a different person when it comes to my abilities. It is hard as heck that I can't do so many of the things that used to be automatic before the accident, but truth is that I can't. I need to accept that and move forward. I can't graduate with a Bachelor's degree in 3 years with an A average like I had always planned. I can't even read music anymore let alone play marimba at the state competition level. I can't even join a men's football team like I had always planned! :) The idea of Riley is to stop comparing myself to what I used to be. I used to tell everyone, don't compare yourself to other people, only compare yourself to what you could do yesterday. But now my yesterday is always going to be before the accident - hopefully until I make the change inside myself to Riley. As Riley, I think I might want to try a bunch of things again; things that have been too difficult because of how much I remember I used to be able to do them. So as much as I want to transition to Riley for the appearance towards other people, it's just as much for myself. The transition to Riley is a stepping stone for progress and success. It's hard to view yourself as someone different when everyone continues calling you to the past. This is why I would like you to call me Riley.
    But, once again, let me reiterate that I will NOT get upset if you call me Shannon! When introducing me specifically, I would love if you would introduce me as Riley. But even if you call me Shannon, it's my new last name anyway, so who cares! I feel very strongly about both - being called Riley and keeping the name Shannon - so it honestly doesn't matter. ~~Riley Shannon~~
P.S. Please vote on my hair!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Negativity

There are many things associated with severe TBIs that are misunderstood and highly overlooked. There are many things associated with severe TBIs that drive others out of the person's life. There are many things associated with severe TBIs that I wish I could change. Unfortunately, you can't eat a whole elephant in one bite. So we take it piece by piece and ask for help when we get stuck. This particular piece gets me stuck a lot, and I have just blamed the TBI. But today I look at it and say, my dear Heavenly Father, please help me do whatever it is that I need to do so that I do not have this consistent problem. This problem is a little thing we like to call negativity.
Negativity, by definition is "a tendency to be downbeat, disagreeable, and skeptical. It's a pessimistic attitude that always expects the worst." Granted, history has given me every reason to be full of negativity. Not only that, but after a severe TBI, one's brain tends to automatically find fault in everything. I cannot escape it, negativity fills my life everywhere I go. In fact, I am physically incapable of thinking positively. Unfortunately, negativity is the absolute enemy of  anything good happening in your life. It seems as though every time I start something new and exciting, I might get a tiny bit of hope, but that hope gets squandered out because of negativity. Negativity is my worst enemy; negativity is Shannon's and Riley's worst enemy; because negativity will bring you exactly what you expect - the worst.
I could highlight ways that negativity has influenced my life, but that would likely be really boring and possibly annoying. (Negativity in action) But besides any of that; that is not the point of this post. This post is a call for help. This call may remind some of you of times 5 years ago; let me remind you, a TBI like mine never goes away. A TBI like mine will always require lots of help. So today I am asking you to join me in fasting this Sunday specifically for Heavenly Father to either dispose of the automatic negativity that immediately registers in my brain, or for Him to show me how and help me do it. I know it's short notice, but I figure it's fast Sunday already. This is one of the largest struggles someone post TBI will ever have to face, but I hope that Riley will not have to live with it her whole life. Thanks to you all.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Riley Transformation (still in Progress)

        Let me answer some questions and clear up a few things. First, I will not be creating a new blog. This blog is about the recovery of someone with a traumatic brain injury. Yes, it is titled Shannon Blackham, but it does not change the nature of the blog. Riley is the persona of someone who has to live with a brain injury every day. And yes, Riley and Shannon are the same person if you see the very core of who I am, so no, I will not be creating a new blog. I also will not be legally changing my name. As far as email and social media, I do believe that I will be creating a new email, although I’m not 100% positive on that one. However, I am more certain that I will eventually create a new facebook. The only other version of social media that I’ve ever even gotten into has been Instagram. If you have an Instagram, you should add me (shannon.blackham) until I report that I have officially changed that to Riley as well. I am still working on letting go of Shannon.
        Let me tell you why it’s so important to me for you let go of Shannon. In my mind, 16 year old Shannon was an amazing person, who worked very hard to get there. In my mind, 16 year old Shannon was everything that I want to be now. In my mind, Shannon deserves to be preserved. Shannon deserves the dignity, respect, and common decency that pre-TBI Shannon earned. When the TBI struck me, it took away who I was down to the very core for a very long time. As time has progressed, I have been able to fight this TBI – but the TBI is still in control more than probably 80% of the time. Pre-injury Shannon did absolutely nothing to deserve her name to be torn apart because of a terrible brain injury. But right after the accident, the TBI took control nearly 100% of the time. So yes, the pre-Shannon did die, and it didn’t occur to me until recently that my friends were grieving the loss of a friend, while still trying to deal with someone else functioning inside of her body, while that other person thought they were the same friend as before. Okay, that sentence didn’t make a lot of sense, but let me share with you the biggest catalyst in this discovery.

        After my blogpost on my anniversary, I received a text from an old friend that said, “Hey, I saw your blog post... I can’t believe it has already been 5 years since your accident. I remember the day I found out, I was in my peer tutor class and Tonya was crying and kept saying ‘Shannon’s in the hospital.’ I thought maybe she had a bad dream. After class I ran into Emily who told me what happened. My stomach dropped and my heart ached. It was the first time a friend had been taken from me. When I found out you were okay, I was so excited to have my friend back but was suddenly shot down when I was told you were still ‘Shannon’ but won’t be the same Shannon I talked to weeks earlier. I thought, ‘There is no way the Shannon I knew was gone’ but the following months and years proved it to be so. The TBI had changed one of my favorite people in the world. And it hurt me inside. Instead of getting to know the new Shannon and being a good friend, I acted as if she really did die that day 5 years ago. It was too hard for me to see her struggling and what one stupid accident did to her life. I didn’t even think about how you felt and how me not being a friend affected you too. After reading your blogpost I got the same feeling I did 5 years ago and cried a little that Shannon had died. But was excited to see how you are moving on with it. I hope I can get to know Riley and be a better friend. If not, I will always remember Shannon – how she was before the accident. And I will never forget the friendship we shared. She was my go to girl, my example, and the friend that helped shape me and grow the most. She was always there for me, whether it was dumb boys or help on assignments. I miss her so much and was so mad that God took her away. I think it is definitely going to be hard to transition, Riley, but I am proud of you for doing that. So Goodbye Shannon, I love you. And take luck Riley. I wish you the best. And hope you find greater happiness because you definitely deserve it.”
                The best part about this text is the way that it made me feel afterwards. Honestly, when I read  ‘Goodbye Shannon’ my heart dropped to my toes. It hurt and it made me feel like I was asking everyone to abandon me all over again, except this time, I was going to abandon myself too. Until I read ‘I love you’ and welcomed Riley into this world, that’s where it all changed. That and reading over her preserving the memory that she has of Shannon. That’s exactly what I need in this identity switch. I need people to freeze their view of Shannon before the accident. Remember that person, love that person, tell me that you love that person and that as hard as it is, you will save that name in your heart forever and no longer associate the TBI-affected-Shannon (who I am now calling Riley) with the name Shannon. One other text I received made me feel similar, “Hello Riley, just thought I’d introduce myself. My name is Sarah and I like friends and ice cream. Sometimes at the same time. I’m a pretty busy person and when I’m not, I’m an introvert. Not that I hate people but I get anxiety being around them, even the ones I care about a lot. I’d love to get to know you better and when I move back to Alpine next month I’m sure I’ll be able to, anxious or not. P.S. Even when I’m not in contact, I still read a certain blog.”

       But what has made all of the pain and all of the struggles of making this switch worth it is this. After receiving those texts, I can actually look back on all of my memories with those people with a little bit of joy. It does not tear me to pieces every time I think about when I would hang out with friend #1 or when I would go to young women’s with friend #2. It doesn’t bother me when I think about all of the laughter, smiles, or joy that I had with them; whereas with everyone else, it does. It tears me apart inside because I can never have that again. It destroys me because we will never be friends again, and they have such an ugly opinion of Shannon L Blackham. I would love for people to be willing to get to know Riley, but even if that’s not something that they are willing to do, then please just tell me that you love and will always love the memory that you have and will forever keep of Shannon. 

P.S. The pictures of Riley here are not the complete transformation. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thanks for Being So Supportive, Love Riley

Wow, I cannot even believe the amazing remarks I have received from family and friends via comments, texts, or in person. I am so overwhelmed by everyone's embracing of Riley. For some odd reason, I haven't been able to take very good selfies lately, but let me show you a little bit of what Riley looks like. Once I'm able to take better pics (and/or get more purple in my hair) I'll update. Love, Riley
Okay, here I am June 19th, fixing weird picture issues in my blog so I'll just add some more fun pics of Riley on this post now!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

After 5 Years, It's Time for a New Identity

     Exactly 5 years ago today, right around this time, absolutely everything changed for me. I was a junior in high school, about to finish up the year with dazzling colors. I loved people – regardless of any race, gender, height, orientation, disability, religion, even regardless of how awful someone would treat me. As you can imagine with someone like that, I had friends on my right and my left, wherever I went. I was excellent at math, currently taking AP Calculus. In fact, I was pretty dang good at every scholarly subject – and always had to have an A to prove it. I was very spiritually strong although it was kept mostly to myself. I loved the fact that I could get ready – and look stinking cute! – in less than 15 minutes in the morning.  By this time, I had worked myself up to one of the most valued debaters on Lone Peak State Champion Debate Team. From debate, I also met this cute kid I called my boyfriend. We had been “dating” for over a year and he knew everything about me. He was such a sweet kid and was absolutely okay to be with me and all sorts of my other friends – even when my other friends were all guys. If I wasn’t at school, debating, or hanging out with friends, I was most likely rollerblading. My favorite thing to do on my rollerblades was begin at the top of my very steep driveway, go all the way down very fast, and jump off the curb. Then I would go right back to the top and do it again… and again. And now that state had finished for debate, I had just gotten a job at Snoasis – the best job ever! I loved taking orders, making and serving snow cones.
     With all of the varieties of friends I had, coming from so many different backgrounds, I helped a LOT of people with a LOT of HARD stuff. I prayed multiple times for God to send some angels to a friend in need. Even after someone would accuse me of terrible, awful things; after someone would treat me like trash; and after someone would not give me the time of day – ignore or even avoid me, I just continued to treat them with love. Yes, times obviously would be hard, and I’d feel very hurt; I know that I had all sorts of challenges, but I was constantly working through them because I knew that eventually, I’d be able to come out on top.
     But it only took one motorcycle with a broken throttle and one backhoe parked in an odd spot to take my entire life and throw it all away. Initially, people – family, friends, doctors, EMTs were concerned if I still had any life left in me at all. As the next 2 weeks went by, I was on life support, in a coma, and people started wondering why so many resources were being used on someone who might not survive at all, and even if they did would likely be brain dead, or paralyzed. After I came out of the coma, I was put through vigorous therapies, but I was unable to comprehend the reason why. I was asked simple questions like, “What does a cow say? What number is between 3 and 5? How many hours are in a day?” I was so frustrated because my brain had not registered that it had been injured, so I thought I knew the answers to all of these questions, even though I did not. I also had to endure physical strain like I’ve never even imagined before. Re-entering this life, completely dependent on others, I had to teach my brain how to do everything – from walking and talking to swallowing and holding my head up - all over again. 
     Because I had not registered that I was severely injured and actually needed to be in a hospital, I was bound and determined to return home as quickly as possible, regardless of how much care I actually needed. Doctors warned and instructed me of a lot of things that would be harder to do as a result of my Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). With the amount of trauma I had taken, I was unable to accept that I had a TBI, let alone that I had any added difficulties. When friends came around, I felt like they were treating me differently and I still could not believe that I was any different, so I became frustrated. However with a TBI, frustration does not stay as frustration. It turns into anger, lashing out, and threats of all kinds of ridiculous things. Before long, I had run every single one of my friends out of my life. Amongst everything else, school was excruciatingly hard, I couldn’t hold a job for very long, and my spirituality had plummeted. For the last 5 years, there has not been a single day that I have woken up and been happy to be alive.
     For the last 5 years, I have felt intense pain physically and emotionally. For the last 5 years, I haven’t been able to understand why I’m still here, living. Over the last 5 years, I have asked Heavenly Father to take me home countless times. Over the last 5 years, I have struggled with accepting what happened to me. However, the time that I said, “Shannon, it’s about time that you gave yourself permission to emotionally heal,” was possibly the most emotionally painful time. That was 5 months ago and I’m not done yet. With 5 grueling, heartbreaking years, and a lot of faith, trust and insight I am learning to accept my TBI and my life with it.
     I don’t want people to think of Shannon as the person I have been after my accident. Shannon L Blackham worked way too hard to let a stupid motorcycle and a dumb backhoe destroy her name. So please, stop and think about everything you knew about me before my accident. Think about that moment when you heard that I had been in a terrible accident that could possibly take my life. Think about how heartbreaking it was to think that someone who loved you so much and whom you loved in return could suddenly just be taken from you. Stop there. Please, don’t go any further. Shannon L Blackham DID DIE that day; the itty bitty pieces of Shannon that are still fighting inside of me are torn down by the TBI 99% of the time. The TBI has tainted the name of Shannon Blackham and her history in the lives of my own and others. Let us hold the good memories of Shannon and keep it at that.
     The image that I have of Shannon L Blackham is very great and therefore holds high expectations. Trying to live up to the image I have of that name is an extreme struggle. Given my new set of circumstances, I am not able to reach many of my previous hopes and dreams. I need closure from the life I lived before the accident. I recognize that closure doesn’t come to all people in the same way. The TBI wiped my memory of nearly everything therefore I don’t know what really happened after my accident. I only know that this traumatized, brain injured person does not act in accordance to the way that Shannon would have lived. Additionally, one of the strangest things, is that occasionally some random note, shirt, picture, or landmark will flood back dozens of memories with a particular person. The hard part about this though, is that all of those memories can be incredible, but because of the way our lives parted, it tears me apart. It destroys me every time I think about certain people from my past; it kills me even to drive past my old high school; the worst part is knowing that it is all my fault. Or at least it’s the person trapped inside of a traumatized, brain damaged body’s fault. It hurts more than one could imagine that I will never have the ability to be the Shannon L Blackham from before the TBI.  The last 5 years I have been in a state of limbo – no longer being Shannon Blackham; someone largely devoid of personal identity, friends, companionship, confidence, motivation and a desire to move forward. In short, I have been controlled by a TBI.
     As the hardest yet beneficial thing to do, I am saying goodbye to everything I have ever known. In so doing, I’m going to try to reset my goals, dreams and expectations. To do this, I need an entire identity switch. Please do whatever you can to not associate the person you’ve seen for the last 5 years with the name Shannon as she has been TBI. Although selfish, going forward, I’m asking everyone to stop calling me Shannon and start calling me Riley. I need to be able to put Shannon L Blackham to rest and embrace a new persona. A persona that I do not feel the need to justify every action by explaining my TBI, a persona that can accept my new set of qualities and challenges and stop comparing them to everything I was before. With Riley I hope to be able to once again find joy from no longer equating myself to pre-accident-Shannon.
Love sincerely,
     Riley

Friday, May 1, 2015

Anxiously Impending my Anniversary

I haven't posted for a long time because my life has taken a chaotic spin down misery lane straight through hell. On a similar, yet polar opposite note, my 5 year anniversary is approaching. I have been in a far better state for previous anniversaries, so why is it that this year has to be the BIG 5? I am not going to give you a travel log of my life over the last couple of months nor over the last 5 years. I am hoping to treacherously write an extremely insightful post on my anniversary, (May 12). But that's about all that I can do right now. I don't remember the last time that I felt this anxious about anything. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

To Top it All Off - Almost - With A Totaled Car

          Well, I've been hesitant to post this one because I still feel responsible. But, this is one of those things that I hope will help a lot of people. First of all, I must mention the title - this is not the end of my day after day heartache, just one more thing that God threw my way. However, with this one, He showed me in every way that His hand is a part of everything we do.
          I left my therapist's office and left to go home to Alpine. I needed home. Okay, wait pause. My car has been beaten up a time or two so first I went to get an estimate on how much it would cost to repair my car. Holy Schnizia! This is actually an important variable, but we'll get to that later. Back to me going home. I hopped on the freeway to go out to Alpine. What I didn't know, was that the inside rim of one of my tires has had a hairline crack for a long time. Let me explain what that means in case you're anything like me and know little to nothing about cars and mechanics. Over time, the crack grows and grows until it just breaks. What I mean by the crack breaking, is literally a piece of the inside of my rim broke off. This causes essentially a blowout of a tire as it cannot function the way it's supposed to anymore. What does a blowout of a tire do? Good question. I don't really know, all that I know is what happened to me.

          I lost all control of my steering wheel. It locked itself all the way to the right. I remember tugging on the wheel, trying to make it NOT hit the cement barrier on the FREEWAY, but despite my efforts, that's exactly what happened. The weird thing about hitting the right side of my car, was that the first thing to happen, was that my left airbag went off. Confused, I pulled back, looking at the airbag. Hold that thought for just a second.
          Back to the car - oh no, it most definitely did not stop there. When it hit the barrier, my car then decided to over-correct itself entirely. The steering wheel reversed, and locked itself all the way left. Oh goody! See, now I am a small little sedan driving horizontally, perpendicular to the flow of traffic, on the freeway, during rush hour. Somehow, I managed to make it to the second to last far left lane before an Expedition hit me (Tender Mercy 1). Even crazier, of all the places that they could have hit, they hit the very back of my car, (2) hard enough that it flipped me around and over to the side of the freeway (3). It completely blew out my trunk. The entire driver's side of the car's doors wouldn't open, and my car was smoking.

          Okay, back to me again. Remember how I pulled back when the first airbag went off? (4) This is a vital piece of information because it prevented whiplash and further damage/shock when the other airbags went off. All of my airbags went off, but they only felt like a cushion because of my prior reactions. Like I said, my car was smoking, I could smell it, but I was just... sitting... in my car. Then, a couple people who had seen the accident and pulled over to help came up and were telling me I needed to get out of my car. My reaction time would've been a whole lot longer had it not been for (5) Bryson Carrier. He just so happened to be one of these people who was behind me - but had no idea it was me - and decided to pull over. He also happens to be someone that I know from high school - almost if not the only person I don't hold any animosity towards. He has always only been such a dear friend since the accident. Hearing him tell me what I needed to do, was a lot better than having some stranger, or officer yell at me.
          I tried to call my mom 4 times. My dad was in California so I knew that if I called him, it would likely do more harm than good - he would be too frustrated that he couldn't do anything. However, I decided to call my dad, although he was working, he answered (6). I was able -who knows how!- to calmly explain the situation (although I had no idea about my tires at this point, all I knew was that I suddenly lost control of my steering wheel). (7) Then my dad continued trying my mom until she answered. (8) I guess she was sanding a piece of furniture with an electric sander. He explained what had happened to her, but she didn't have her car because my sister took it. Yikes! Or not so much.... My mom went downstairs and asked my sister, Annika who has severe disabilities, her caregiver if she could use her car. Maryann (the caregiver) said absolutely. (9)
          Since I was heading home, I had quite a few things in my car that were pretty important to me. It's a good thing that my car didn't blow up! (10) And Bryson asked me what I needed out of my car. When my response was "everything," he didn't gripe or complain, he just started loading things from my car to his, because he offered to give me a ride home. (11&12) At this point, I didn't know that my mom was coming. When the officers asked us to write our testimonies; my fingers were freezing and Bryson offered to let me sit in his car as I wrote what had happened. (13) He helped me out with everything and kept me calm. (14) He even called his wife and told her that he was helping me and would be late coming home. What a sweetheart!

          My mom and I finally got in touch and decided to meet up at an exit right off of the freeway. Then we were able to transfer all of my stuff from Bryson's car to Maryann's. As we were doing this, the tow truck that has my car pulls off to the same place we had pulled off at. Bryson had previously got the towing information for me. (15) But, as we talked to the tower, he was able to tell us some of the things that didn't make sense in our heads. (16) He was able to do this because he 'just so happened' to work at a tire shop before. (17) So he knew what had happened when he pulled out the tire that had flown off of my car; he was able to explain it to us. Bryson left, we took some pictures, then we left.

 


       
 Now, onto going to my car at the towing-storage unit. My brother-in-law, Chad Bowcut is an amazing mechanic (among many other things). So he was able to come with me and trade-out the stereos - one that came with the car and one that we put in after market. (18)  While he did that, I was able to reclaim my stuff that had been launched across the freeway but later restored back in my car. (19) Then, while Chad analyzed the damage, he noticed my license plate - "mean people suck" - which I've kept since my first car. He took that off for me as well. (20)
          Holy crap! But wait, go back to the first thing I told you to hold in your mind. The one about how ridiculous my repair bill would be? First of all, I won't have to pay that ridiculous bill! (21) Well, it's taken a while, and a lot of talking with the insurance, but... now I have the amount that the insurance will pay me for my totaled car. (22) It is slightly more than I paid for my car 4 years ago. (23)
          So yeah, I may have set myself up for lots of pain, heartache, trials and tribulations when I told God, "Come what may, I can take it." But, despite the brutality of it all, He makes sure that His daughter knows she is in His hands. No matter what happens; I am in God's hands. For some of us, it is harder to feel it. But I can see it. I can see that He loves me a lot, and I know that He loves each and every one of you a lot. You are in God's hands, His love for each of us is unique, because each of us are unique.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Come What May

     The last couple of weeks may be the hardest time in my entire life. As difficult as it is for me to share, that is just what I'm going to do. I'm willing to do this because I hope that it will make a difference for other people struggling with TBIs, whether it be they themselves, or their loved ones. But, this stuff is HARD.
     So, as I believe I mentioned in my last post, I've started having nightmares. I had been having these terrible dreams for quite a while, but instead of praying to ask Heavenly Father to take them away, instead when I prayed, I said, "Come what may." I figured this was the kind of thing I signed up for when I decided I was going to focus on emotional recovery, and if this is what I needed to work on, then so be it, just help me through it, Father. But, I think after I said "come what may" is when the living nightmare began... The week of torture started when I took the time to really sit down and think about what fears/insecurities/deficits the nightmares were focusing on. Then, the next morning, I finally decided that I had to give up my old facebook. It is something that is really difficult for me in a lot of ways, I'll touch on a few more reasons a little later on, but to me facebook is not just about social media; it's about connections with people. And deleting the old facebook meant saying goodbye, like really goodbye - for good - to EVERYONE who does not have any sort of active role in my life.
     The next day I decided that I needed to write a letter to the professor from last semester who ultimately told me that I wasn't even worth the effort of going to school. I had wanted to write a letter to her for a long time, but it started out being simply too close to the issue with way too much pain. So having stepped away from the situation for a time was good. That was emotionally exhausting as well.
     A while back, I went to my best friend's (from Jr High) homecoming. He was the least Christlike person I had ever seen. Being a brand newly returned missionary, I thought he might like to know. So I emailed him and explained. His response back was so derogatory, so condescending, so critical; he did not take any responsibility, and blamed me for all of it. And he said that I was accusing him of mistakes he made in 8th grade (although I was talking about things he is doing right now). My original email was meant to be something to close the door for me. He opened up the wound so deep again. So I decided that I wanted to respond, defend myself, then tell him not to contact me again. As I went along each argument, it boiled down to this: Other people blame me, accuse me, or hate me for mistakes I made when I had absolutely 100% no control over my actions. I had no judgement, I had no filters, I didn't have the common sense to see if something would hurt someone else. I had NO CONTROL over doing the things I did that were mean, the things that made me "threatening," the things that made all of my friends run away because they didn't know how to deal with me. 
     First mistake about doing that though, was how late I started doing that, because that night did not start out so well for me. I called my mom, crying to tell her what I had just discovered in my point of emotional overload. She calmed me down - or so we thought and we hung up. This was around 11:10 at night. As soon as we got off the phone though, I started bawling. Breathlessly sobbing, all I could do was think. This is about the time I went into a major, major anxiety attack, which means I obviously don't remember everything, but I remember a lot given the fact that everything I thought about continues to bother me - a lot. I was crying because I don't remember anything about my past. At least not the way that you're supposed to have memories. When I'm told stories about myself, or I read in my old journals, I can sometimes remember the events, I know that I was there, but I don't feel it. I can't remember any of the emotions associated with any of the events and quite frankly, it makes me unsure of who I even am. Not only do I not remember a period of time around my accident, but I slowly forget everything. Like right now, I probably only remember the last 6 months of my life. At this point, I hadn't pieced together that I was going through a panic attack, I just thought that I was sobbing and so I didn't see an end to the sobbing - ever. But I called my mom back at either like 11:35 or 11:50. Still sobbing, she couldn't understand a word I was saying. But she talked to me to get me calm enough until 2 in the morning when I was finally able to hang up with her and then go to sleep.
     The next day, I woke up at 6 and couldn't go back to sleep! Which means I was running on low fuel, By this time in the week I am an emotional wall, when thing hit me, yes they'll sink in, but they will definitely take some time. I don't just immediately go bizzark. This is important to note because of what happened this day. I'll write about it next time.
     Remember when I said "come what may, just help me through it"? Well, Heavenly Father sure has shown his hand in millions of ways especially obvious in all that I will write about next time. The other thing that will come up next is the letter I read that had an amazing impact, that made me take a dramatic turn. And holy crap, it's the hardest time of my life, yet while I'm in the middle of it, I'm able to say that it's the best time of my life!!! Say, what?!?! :)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Emotional Recovery Deep Down

     I don't know how to start this post. I'm lost for words (which does not happen very often). I knew that I was mean right after the accident for quite a period of time, but I was just informed that it doesn't matter what I would do; I could beg on my knees, I could explain that it was the injury, I could change entirely, but people I hurt from the past wouldn't forgive me. They wouldn't be able to see past the terrible person I was for approximately 2 years after my accident. The worst part about all of this is that I couldn't see it then, and I can't remember any of it now. Quite honestly, I don't remember a very large majority of my relationships from before the accident. If anyone cares, I would love it if they would email or facebook message (remember I'm deleting the old one) me and give me a little history of our relationship before and after the accident. Fact of the matter is, I don't remember very much of anything from my past - before or after. It bothers me more than one can imagine. People always say that they are made up of their past, but what does that mean for someone who lost all of their past, not only in memory, but in skill and ability?
     I'm beginning to have nightmares - not like falling off a cliff, but ones that bring up so much pain, and I wake in terror, or in tears. I will wake 6-8 times a night, so much for restful sleeping, right? But, it's what I signed up for when I said I was going to work on emotional recovery so when I go to sleep at night and I pray to my Father in Heaven, I say "come what may." Because if this is what I need to be working on, than so be it.
     I'm working my butt off through this entire TBI. It's so hard because of how invisible the injury is. The lashing out, clinging to the past, anger, etc, is all part of the TBI. Absolutely every thing that I do, just getting up in the morning and putting one foot in front of the other takes so stinking much work it's hard for anyone to even fathom. It's so difficult because the things that people hate me for are things that I legitimately had absolutely 100% no control over. I love everyone I've come in contact with, and that's something that won't ever change, no matter how badly they've hurt me. I, like some of my favorite LDS music artists, don't forget people. Christ loves people regardless of how annoying, childish, mean, or anything else. He reaches out to them even more because he knows that they get pushed into the rudders far too often. That's who I've always tried to emulate.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Post Traumatic Relationship Disorder - PTRD

I believe that I can be very intelligent sometimes. I believe that these times occur more often when I do what I am doing now - working through the pain. In my neuropsychology appointment yesterday, I walked through the damage that past relationships have caused me. These relationships have been very traumatic, and I fear will harm all my future relationships. Hence, the title, Post Traumatic Relationship Disorder.
I cannot feel like anyone loves/likes me for me. One could assume that this is because virtually all the relationships I had before the accident vanished. In regards to my peers, perhaps they were used to a constant give, never take from me and when I started to need something they ran. Truth of the matter is that it doesn't matter, I just don't have the capability to feel loved. Because of my relationships before and after the accident, I have a very negative view on relationships in regard to myself. People seem to leave me very quickly, whatever I do or do not do. So I step into each relationship very skeptically.
Not only does the negative aspect infringe on relationships, but I feel like my lack of feeling could possibly demise future relationships. For example, if you are building a friendship with someone and it should be blooming, but the other person just seems to hold you back, then why would you stay friends with them? I've been shattered far too many times to hope a relationship would work. It is not something that I can just tell myself to change. It is as real as PTSD.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Welcome, Year 2015

 I am not in school right now. I do not have a job right now. I am not pursuing a job right now. I am not planning on going back to school. In the world's eye, I am a lazy, piece of crap who is not doing anything with her life. The population says that I need to either be working, or studying something to make me a better worker. Even the government who knows that I have shortcomings due to my TBI wants me to be doing way more school than I'm even capable or working full time. But to my Heavenly Father and me, we are going to work way harder on making me a better, stronger, more resilient person this year than ever before.
 I am pleased to report that I have never worked as hard at recovery over this TBI as I am right now. While I was in the hospital, I jumped as far as physical recovery. When I initially went back to school, I jumped as far as cognitive recovery. But I have never even given myself the chance to emotionally recover. If you are emotionally broken, you can't do anything very effectively; and I don't know about anyone else's injuries, but I know that my injury caused a great deal of emotional heartbreak that will require a great deal of recovery. The hardest part is that everything I do is somehow tied back to the injury and says “you can’t do this anymore,” which is something that I have to deal with every single day. So it’s not just emotional recovery immediately after the injury, it’s baggage that consistently grows. I’ve decided that I need to work my way through this part, as hard as it is, so that I can continue to move forward in life without so many weights holding me down.

This is one of the hardest, most draining – even physically – things to deal with at times. I’ve only been focused on this for a month and I’m already constantly exhausted. But I still have so much work to do. I’m having so many struggles with many aspects in my life and different recognitions. I’ll (hopefully) continue to write more about these things. But, I guess the only thing that I can say at this point, is Bring it On 2015!