When you have a brain injury, you can lose a lot.
Your social life or friends.
Your job or ability to work in the same field.
Your independence, self-reliance, autonomy, or ability to care for your own needs.
Your ability to drive anywhere you want whenever you want.
Cognitive stamina. Focus, concentration, organization, motivation, follow-through.
Your ability to read or think about complex subjects.
Your hope for the future!
Foods you used to eat that now make you have allergic reactions.
Your beloved hobbies!
You have to adapt and find new ways to infuse your life with meaning, especially if you have lost access to activities that fulfilled you or that gave you a lot of satisfaction.
My injury left me completely heartbroken over not being able to pursue my creative passions with the same energy or vigor. I love to draw, and for a while I couldn’t even color within the lines in a coloring book without a ton of mental effort.
When you have a concussion, most of your energy is going to survival–preparing food, managing pain and disastrous symptoms, getting to appointments, making sure to get exercise in, scheduling, trying to decide, “Will I have enough energy to make it through this event/meeting/outing/appointment? If I use up energy here, then I won’t have energy over here.” For me that meant cutting out a lot, and my creativity suffered.
That didn’t mean I wasn’t creating at all. I took lots of pictures. I wrote on this blog. I posted articles to my Facebook page. I played the piano some. But certain activities, like drawing, I didn’t even attempt because I knew how hard it would be, which would upset me to compare my current self to my pre-injury self. I can see now that it would have been good to still try because it fills me with such joy. And just sitting down and trying will build those brain connections back up again. At the time, though, I was just barely surviving from day to day.
Recently, though, I have been incorporating more creativity into my life as I continue the recovery process. I realized how much my soul craves making, and I have been trying to make opportunities to take more photos, another hobby that just makes me happy and doesn’t drain me too much. I am feeding my creativity by going outside once a day and walking around a little bit and remembering that there is a whole big, beautiful world out there that I need to be a part of.
I have always loved to knit, and knitting is great for your brain because you’re using both sides of your body to do it! I finished this scarf for my mom last week. We noticed that the color palette looks like it just jumped out of Minerva Teichert’s Triumphant Return that’s hanging in our living room.
This commitment to creativity has a lot of stops and starts. Some days I can only knit a few rows. But I have been committed to showing up for my creativity, and I am working to gain confidence that if I am able to do these little things maybe I am going to be able to do big things again one day, too.