Caught in the embers

Latest blog from: hopegoesupanddown.blogspot.com - a record of the hope, terror and unknown future faced when the one you love most in the world suffers a brain injury.

Apologies if you come to this blog for a shot of positivity, but here's the thing; I'm depressed.

I'm lucky that my depression is related to the stress and trauma of the last three years and isn't the lifelong malaise that some battle. I'm hoping this means I can conquer it.

How have I found myself in this land of sadness and confusion? One of the best things about brain injury is that I have been lucky to connect with many men and women in the same position as me, caring for, supporting, cheerleading, providing therapy to and loving someone with a brain injury. The shared tales of my contemporaries mean that I know I'm not alone in my current state of depression; it is part of being a warrior wife / husband / partner / son /daughter / sibling.

A common theme seems to be that the mental strength of the one doing the supporting depletes in direct correlation with the recovery and progress of the one with the buggered brain. As the one we love slowly rises like a phoenix from the flames of their injury, we find ourselves sitting amongst the fading embers, covered in ash and wondering how the hell we got there.

For the last three years I have, quite rightly, put my life on pause. I have embraced my warrior wife role and all focus has been on building an effective rehab team and creating an environment to give Jake the best possible chance to make the best possible recovery in the context of his complex, devastating injury. I am proud of this and what we have achieved. My gladiator husband has seized this opportunity and defied all the odds. I don't doubt he will continue to do so, I'm just a bit worried about how useful I can be to him at the moment. I don't really know who I am anymore and what my purpose or worth is.

Useless, worthless, purposeless; that's how I'm feeling right now and that alone tells me I'm not where I should be, out of focus, out of alignment with Charlie at her best.

I don't like this version of Charlie very much. She drinks too much, overreacts, makes dubious choices, says and does selfish stuff and generally adds little value to anything.

Clearly I need to do something about this. Firstly I'm going to up my happy pills again. I had been reducing them, but the reality is I that I still need them at the moment. I am imagining the sharp intake of disapproving breath from some of my readers; if that's you I would ask you to take a little time to do a little research and find a little empathy.

One in four people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year (http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-statistics/). Antidepressants are a crucial tool in managing clinical depression and work by increasing levels of a group of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters; they help you to manage the extremes of your emotions so that you can cope. If you have a sore eye you might get some eye drops, but you'd let it heal on it's own; however, if you have impaired sight you wear glasses to correct this and enable you to function normally. If your mood is low because you've had a bad week then you might have a night out with good friends and probably feel a lot better, but if it is chronically or clinically low then you take antidepressants to correct this and enable you to function normally. You should feel no more ashamed of taking antidepressants than wearing glasses.

I do know that I have a responsibility to not just rely on these tablets though and I am also exercising more (yoga helps immensely) and have had some excellent counselling with a neuropsychologist.

The much anticipated 'Wedding: the Sequel' in New York next week followed by a second honeymoon in Antigua will undoubtedly help too. Our brain injury won't go away though, so I shall continue to ask for help, keep looking for my worth and purpose and endeavour to grasp hold of Pheonix Jake's tail feathers, hopefully shaking off the embers and ash as we go.

11 Replies

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  • You're doing fine Charlie, as one who has needed antidepressants on and off before my BI, you take them as you need them, I understand. I have been taking a low dose daily since my BI, the hospital recognised it would be needed to cope with the changes I would be dealing with.

    There are times that your body cannot keep pace with the stresses life throws at you, hence the need for those little pills, they are a god send, but we feel so guilty why?

    You will get all the support you need from me, you do what you need to help you through, there is no need for the guilt.

    Enjoy Antigua, you deserve it.

    We are going on a cruise in November, I am hoping that we will be able to have a holiday to suit my husband, he loves sightseeing but I'm not as active any more, so maybe this compromise of a ship taking us from place to place will help. I know it must be difficult for him with the changed me, so he deserves this, as you do, so don't feel guilty there is no need.

    Love and hugs Janet xxxxxx

  • Thank you - enjoy the cruise! C xxxx

  • None of this is surprising. You've reached something of an equilibrium but all that stress and nervous energy will have taken root, together with exhaustion, which isn't an ideal condition.

    But you know what the score is and your description, ironically, is poetic and beautiful. And you are handling it with all the tools at your disposal.

    I salute you Charlie and wish you a successful recovery from this horrible, draining illness, and hope to see you emerge happier and closer to healing after your wonderful trip to New York & Antigua.

    All best wishes to you both, Cat x

  • Bless you Charlie... even though you do the best interpretation of Superwoman I have seen in a very long time (ever) underneath all the grit and sparkle you are human ... and like the rest of us mere mortals you need to cut yourself some slack every now and again and take some time out to simply breathe.

    I hope that the trip will bring some joy and that the gloom will soon lift to reveal rainbows in your future...in the meantime do whatever it takes to take care of you... as the adverts say "you're worth it! "

  • I'm an excellent faker! Thanks xxxx

  • Hiya

    Sorry to hear that you are feeling down. But everything that you say just shows that you are human and that you have needs too, some of which do not get addressed when you are lost in somebody else's injury. The silent partner, the one that often hurts most.

    I tried mindfulness, an 8 week programme, that really helped and it very much compliments yoga. Have you thought about that? Not for everyone I know. There is a great book with am 8 week programme including the CD with the exercises on

    I have also just taken up a new hobby, photography, I am doing city and guilds one night a week in something that I enjoy. Until now I always felt bad about going out and leaving the other half but now realise that was about me not about him. I was trying to control too much in order to stay sane but in doing so I lost me. Anyway other half even bought me the new camera.

    Is there a hobby you fancy doing just for you? However indulgent it might seem?

    As for happy pills, nobody has a right to judge, if it works for you then it is right. Just continue to take expert advice. Also for depression good quality sleep, a good diet and exercise combined is a good remedy if you feel up to it.

    Sadly the one thing that can hamper depression is alcohol so if you can limit it it might help. Ironic that something that can give us an initial high is a depressant. Life's a bitch sometimes.

    You are a real inspiration to many of us here as is Jake so don't lose sight of that. Plus you are a beautiful looking lady.

    What you are feeling is inevitable and normal and I hope you can get the help that you need to get through it

    I hope too that you have a fabulous holiday, it sounds wonderful.

    Big hugs to you, try to rest and I hope that you are feeling a little more at peace soon

    Xx

  • Thank you for the hugs :)

  • Hi Charlie,

    What a totes amazing lady you are.. I am the brain injured in our relationship and my hubby, like you have been with Jake has been fantastic, amazing, loving, gentle, understanding and there every step of the way. I read your blogs with interest and can honestly say in many ways your journey mirrors our journey. The depression is tough and hard to deal with, but the tablets help. I send virtual love and respect to you and Jake and wish you a very happy time in New York.

    We are hear to listen and help...keep blogging, blow off steam etc..... and if you need to private message please do. Me (Joanne) or hubby (Derek) will do our best to help.

    Take care Charlie and Jake :)

  • Oh Charlie

    Your blog is brilliant. You have managed to say all the things I feel, but unable to talk about..

    I am not on pills, but definitely smoke and drink too much, my way of coping with my husbands BI.

    Like jake he is improving all the time,but having spent so long, pushing him, pushing the experts and trying to be all people for all occasions, you start to think, where is the real me, where am I going and will I ever get a life back?

    Selfish, I don't think so, unlikely, probably.

    Enjoy your holiday, boy have you earned it, and never, never forget, jake would not be so well if it wasn't for you xxx

  • It's exhausting isn't it?! C xxx

  • i was goun to reply to your. post as soon as i saw it but then ad visitor.charlie you ave been an insperation to all of us on ere,and youve been so strong for so long.dont worry if u need to take a pill to help you,even the strongest people need help sometimes.i send you my hope and hope you will be ok

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