I am ready to live again! It feels so good to sing again. It feels awesome to dance around the house like no one sees, to feel happiness. I know there is still pain and a whole lot of sadness but something is different.
I have been struggling with some pretty severe depression. I had gotten lost in my fight for John and Aloura’s life, I had lost mine. Over the last 2 ½ years I have let little parts off me die. It started with a trip I was able to take to see my best friend since high school.
The trip was amazing! Before the accident I would often take a long weekend and visit my best friends. This was the first of these trips since the accident. As the plane took off, I felt that freedom feeling of a great adventure. This best friend has been with me through hell and back. She will stay on the phone with me for hours or as long as I need. I couldn’t believe I was able to go away. I was able to leave brain injury, doctors, and school, everything behind for a few short wonderful days. We laughed and we cried. I was silently crying out wanting to be heard. I didn’t even here myself crying out.
When I returned from this wonderful vacation, it hit. Severe depression. Depression so bad that I was even becoming scared. I had never felt this horrible before. Not even when my mom died. Not even at the onset of John’s accident. I also had a check-up right around this time and of course my therapy as well. My doctor just got straight with me and let me have it so to speak. I love this about my doctor and therapist. They are both blunt and invested. I was in trouble. I had let myself die. Little by little pieces of who Brandy was were fading and becoming mere memories. The scatter brained, fun loving, singing and dancing fool was gone. Where did she go? How did this happen? Even with so much hope for her family, what about the hope for her? The cold reality, I had forgotten the number one rule of caregiving. Take care of yourself so that you can care for others.
I went through, and am still going through many phases of the grief, but something did change. I was sitting in the living room one day and as I was thinking about our life together, John was sitting there fully engrossed in Curious George. That is where, in my mind and heart, I made a huge shift. Although it is painful, so painful to say. I accepted and said goodbye to my husband that was before the accident. After 2 ½ years, it finally made its way to acceptance that he is no longer here with me. Yes, I still love him and always will. I also love the new John. It is a different love and one we will be working on for a long time to come, but that is a different blog.
I woke up from my deep sleep. John died in many ways that day but I am alive. I am still the same fun spirit that was here before the accident. I did not die the day of the accident. Brain injury is not my only identity. I am a person that God created with spunk, incredible will, stubbornness, and passion for life. I have started to live again. What that means is different for every person. For me, it means more passionate worship. It means dancing like a fool to really loud music even though it drives my family batty. It means giving and opening my heart to be loved by those around me. Even as simple as taking myself out to the movies or hanging out for the evening with new friends from school. It means having study groups and fighting for better grades in college. It means writing and inspiring again!
I want to encourage all of you that are caregivers to live. Take some time for yourself. It is not selfish. It is healthy. It is necessary. Live life and celebrate the gifts we have been given and when you care for that loved one, they too will feel more loved.