Injured Brains

My mother-in-law has come to stay with us.  She is recovering from a brain injury – the result of falling through a ceiling onto a concrete floor back in September.

Over the last week I’ve noticed how similar a brain injury is to PTSD and depression.

Noise and talking and lots of people are problematic.  We can’t think straight and we lose track of conversations.  We feel the need to get away on our own and have quiet.

Clutter and mess around the house creates stress.  It’s extra stuff for overloaded brains to process.  And I’ve been really glad to have observed this.  I always thought my need for tidiness was a silly thing I needed to get over but it turns out it’s quite rational.  I feel much better about that now – I can tidy up to my heart’s content:-)  It’s good for me.

Travel is distressing and exhausting.  I imagine that’s because it adds a whole extra range of things to think about, and tired brains don’t like extra thinking.

Injured or mistreated brains that are now repairing get very tired very easily.  I guess I knew this, but seeing it from another angle is helpful.  It’s not so much that I’m not coping with life, it’s that my brain is repairing and that takes massive amounts of energy.  Afternoon sleeps, yay.  Morning sleeps, yay!

Perceptions may be distorted.  I notice my mother-in-law generally thinks she’s much further along in her healing than she actually is.  This matches up with discrepancies between mine and Aaron’s assessments of how I’m doing.  I can think I’m having quite a good week or day and am often surprised to find Aaron doesn’t think so.  Then I get pissed of at him.  Whoops.

I’d like to learn more about this.  I know that if you don’t get treated right as a baby or toddler or young child, some areas in your brain don’t develop as they are meant to.  (And that is what leads to addiction – Gabor Mate is brilliant on how we deal with pain.)  I’ve also heard that brain-scans of people with depression show some parts of the brain not functioning properly.  So it’s especially reassuring to know that brains can heal.

To understand that depression has a physical component is, I find, hugely reassuring:  I’m not an idiot; I’m not unable to cope with life; It’s not ‘all in my head’ (ha); It’s not that I just need to ‘get on with it.’

So I’m putting physical right alongside the spiritual and emotional aspects of PTSD and depression.

Injured brains.  Intriguing.