The festive fury!

This is my first festive season after the SAH in September this year. I feel like it has changed me as a person. I'm finding that I get quite past and anxious when I'm in big crowds of people. It also doesn't help that I also have visual impairment.

The day before yesterday I went to town to do the last of my present shopping and a rather large portly woman in an electric wheelchair ran right over my foot, which made me fall over and Yelp in pain...she didn't even say sorry or stop to see how I was...and I'm still limping...soooo rude!

Today I actually ran to the taxi rank and jumped in a cab home after 10 mins and left my family behind because I felt like I'd gone into festive overload....I just really felt overwhelmed by the noise, smells, bright lights and masses of people who were constantly bumping into me and ramming trolleys into me to get past me to get to bargains.........it makes me want to move to a remote part of Greenland and live with the reindeers.....

God help me today......heaps of relies asking me questions, the smell of meat cooking making me want to puke and other such festive treats.....and don't mention the hydrocephalus headache ...

Sorry for moaning, I'm just finding it really hard to cope with all of this. Do other people who have had brain injuries have a hard time at Christmas?

16 Replies

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  • Hi there Silmarillion. The short answer, one which I think pretty much everyone on here will concur with, is YES! Life after a BI becomes tougher and any kind of sensory overload knackers us, makes us stressed and anxious (fight or flight) as our poor brains try and handle it. Christmas is the normal stress of life magnified by a zillion and it is tough. I was in hospital from August to December and my discharge was a few weeks before Christmas. My family were all chuffed to have me home and 'cured' but I hated it, the noise, the people, the crap TV, the pressure to be happy and behave 'appropriately' when all I wanted was to go back to my lovely quiet hospital ward and my nurses or crawl into bed and plug my ears. I could not even drink as I was on strong medication. . This was in 2001 and I am still bracing myself for the family ordeal today, so many years on. You are very recently diagnosed and getting used to your new self. I wish you all the luck and please post again if you need to rant, chat or get a virtual hug at any time. This is a great place and we all understand exactly how it is. Have a good 2017 xx

  • Thanks abi1 for being so understanding

  • We're all different, but I suspect that the sensory over-stimulus 'gets' a lot of us. Me, I'm the original Grinch, I never really cared for Christmas, and was sucked-in to the ex's family traditions, which I always struggled with, but had-to-be-polite, so I wasn't the one who 'ruined' Christmas, while various sisters-in-law didn't even look at their presents, and just held out their hands for the receipts, so they could exchange them. I've never been one for material possessions, and years of saying a polite 'Thank you' to the in-laws, for jumpers and tights that I'd never wear were difficult. (The ex used to tend to buy me kitchen-stuff, and motorbike-stuff, and he'd invariably 'wrap' it in a Lidl carrier-bag, and half a roll of gaffa-tape, not all men are useless at Christmas, but I married one who was.)

    The extended families often don't realise the massive range of after-effects with a BI, we're walking, talking living dolls, so we look 'normal', and they assume we're 'better'. (They don't usually see the 'sleeping, crying' bits, because, as I'm increasingly finding, it's us, as the injured parties, that tend to make the 'adjustments'.) Next door's blue-flashing outdoor lights have made me feel like I'm on the edge of a migraine for about a fortnight, and they'll probably be up for another two weeks, at least I'm not picking bits of tinsel, and dog-shredded wrapping paper up in every room in the house this year, being the only human in the house who knows how to work the Hoover...

    My only advice would be 'small doses' if possible, explain that you're not being deliberately grumpy, or anti-social, but that a brain is a complex bit of kit, and it doesn't 'heal' as fast as a broken arm or leg. You don't have to go into reams of detail about all of the over-processing and exhaustion, the fatigue, and the altered senses, the headaches, that WOULD put a downer on sparkly-season. (We just have to live with it.)

    Small doses of being thankful for family and friends, small doses of treats you might not have at other times of the year, small doses of atrocious TV, and getting away to a quieter room, with a cup of tea, or whatever, where you can. Your family/friends WILL be thankful still to have you, they're not actively trying to do your nut in with noise, and smells, and glitter, it's just that our changes are generally invisible from the outside.

    All the best to you and yours, and, above all else, it's only once a year.

  • Thanks for your useful insights gaia_rising!

  • I too am dreading today. I find it all overwhelming. I don't live up to my families expectations of me as am now a very different person.

    I have epilepsy also & after a fit yesterday my bed is where I want to be.

    I will smile & try to give the impression I am having the time of my life, but will be so glad when I can crawl into my bed tonight.

    Again sorry for the moan, but no one understands what it is like unless they have been through it.

  • I feel your pain Stan-dog

  • One of the things I always relate a head injury to is like - "the worst hangover ever - but your still drunk!". Noise and smells are intolerable and your balance, speech and mental skills have gone down the pan.

    A bit like a hangover you want to die, but the symptoms do ease over time.

    Also like a hangover, paracetemol and dark glasses help :-)

    Just have grit your teeth on times

    Its only for a few more days before its all over and the madness of the sales start

  • It is a bit like one of the nastiest hangovers I've ever had.....and I wouldn't wish it on anyone! My head is thumping constantly because of my swollen hydrocephalus pre-shunt brain and I want to throw up all the time. I managed to slip away at 9pm from my sisters house and I'm now back in my quiet dark corner in a cosy armchair with the lazy old cat for company!

    So thank you guys for you're support. I don't know what I would do without all of you nice people at the moment......nobody seems to understand me anymore and I feel like a 47 year old teenager!

  • Yep, 55 in 10 days - not so much the oldest swinger in town more like the oldest kid in town. :-)

    The main thing about this forum is that we are all in the same boat one way or another and all know what it is like with family and especially doctors !

    Anyway new year soon .....

  • Correcting what you wrote "Nobody in my current social circle seems to understand me anymore. "

    If true, speak to headway on 3rd Jan, see if there are opportunities to bump into others who sing from your hymn sheet on a more regular basis. Acceptance, is a big facilitator, on the journey towards healthy equilibrium.

    Cant choose your family. However, glad their nutty fanatical traditional ways of Christmas sustain the family love, forming a unit of safety and belonging. In time, you will be aware of and able to convey, what it is that you deem safe. Takes time. No rush. Writing diary to self can consolidate this message. Conveying this message in writing to family members gives you the space to end your sentence, prevents a chasm opening up between you and your nearest dearest, keeps everyone abreast of where your sensory processing capability is. It changes. Awfully exhausting to have to sit and explain apologise for where your body is now and how much healing your brain has or has not been able to complete!

    No apologies here in this forum. It is as it is. You are doing your best. Its not easy. You will find a way. That is the nature of the body. Even brain injury doesn't stump the natural ability of the human body to work out different neural connections to manage situations which challenge.

    I found it was a lesson in self love. Am I feeding myself right. Am I getting good sleep. Am I exercising regularly and gently. Part of this is also - am I able to connect socially to provide the heart with joy and relaxation.

    On a battle field, the last thing soldiers care about is joy and relaxation. Same as a BI in my opinion. My body did battle with itself for a while - auto-immune response. It gets itself tied up in knots when trying to heal sometimes. It goes down a dead end and then needs to back track. This process, depending on BI severity, can go on for years. Its about learning to recognise the dead ends early, diverting the body back to base, then setting off on a different journey. This process requires peace and listening, self understanding, support from social networks and a lot of patience and perseverance.

    Good tidings to you and yours, and of course the cat.

  • Thanks recovering H

  • Hi Silmarillion I hope you got through Christmas day as well as can be.... It is probably the most difficult time of year I think. I had my injury July 2015 so had my first Christmas soon after. For me my second Christmas has been the most difficult. Last year I had been staying at my dad's for months after and not working. This year I've had lots to cope with (full time work using public transport, moving house in new year). So Christmas has been a total sensory overload for me. I can totally relate to what you mean.... Shopping has been too much, like you say people just getting in the way! I find my body is awake but my head telling me to shutdown. I feel like a drunk walking about, it's a weird feeling isn't it? Christmas has been manic as I've been to my dad's then Christmas day to my mum, and now boxing day at sister's... I've woken this morning from many hours of sleep still totally drained. My ideal situation today would be to stay in bed! But family are due round so I have to be polite and join in. I find it so hard to join in, as I zone out.... Seems we all go through the same. Coming onto here really helps to see that we are now alone and each here understand. All the beat for today, let's see how we cope with this one. Take care xxx

  • I think I might be heading the same way as yourself Ro_76....!

  • Similar here.

    I don't mind being in crowded places but get very disoriented with lots of noise. If it is busy a people are talking loudly at the same time, that can be disorienting. Bright lights are also very difficult.

  • Hi Silmarillion. My SAH was also in September but 2014. That first Christmas was so difficult but the last two weren't as bad as I'd had a shunt fitted which made the headaches less horrendous. I'm not sure if I'm more tolerant of loud noises and bright lights etc or if my reaction has just become the norm. I too have been left with residual sight problems leaving me unable to drive or work. I empathise with you totally and hope life is brighter post-shunt! X

  • Thanks emmersonuu

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