This post is, in a way, a continuation or an addendum to my last post My Shrunken World. When my world shrunk, my focus did as well. Not only was I limited to focusing on only one thing at a time, I was also limited to focusing on only one moment at a time. What I have found on this journey back from traumatic brain injury is that the moment we live in is all we have. The next moment could be our last so let’s make the most of this one.
Early in my recovery, I started reading books about brain injury and especially survivor stories. I’m not sure if I was looking for a miracle cure or if it was a feeling of “misery loves company” but I was looking for something I could connect with. There was a story in a book called Head Cases by Michael Paul Mason that caught my attention. It was about a woman named Melissa Felteau who was in a car accident and her injury as well as her circumstances seemed very similar to mine. She was a corporate professional, it was a motor vehicle accident, and it was a closed head injury so on the outside, she looked fine. Somehow, I was able to find an email address and sent her a message though I never really anticipated getting a reply. You can read Melissa’s story on Brainline here.
I was very surprised when two days later; I received a reply from Melissa that was incredibly encouraging and very informative. She talked about her struggles both physical and psychological and told me some of the things she did to get moving in the right direction. Melissa’s journey eventually led her to a system called Mindfulness that uses techniques such as meditation and yoga to dial the mind into the here and now. Mindfulness has become Melissa’s passion and she is one of the leading researchers and developers of Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. You can read several articles about her research here.
In the early months of recovery, in the moment was all I had so mindfulness was easy. As time passed and I became more aware, thoughts of what had happened to me and what the future could hold, became overwhelming and I started to get depressed. Many times, I yelled at God and asked him “Why can I remember things I used to do when I cannot do them anymore”? If I had allowed myself to stay in that negative frame of mind, I probably would have become an angry victim. Though I still feel those negative thoughts creep in occasionally, because of Melissa’s encouragement and what Jesus said about letting tomorrow take care of itself, I made a conscious decision to live in the present moment as best I can. My hope is that we survivors can make the most of every one of those moments we have since each one is a precious gift.