My Latent Self Anne Ricketts

My Latent Self

Recovering My Soul After Brain Injury
Recovering My Soul After Brain Injury

Life After ‘Recovery’

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A few times recently I have posted about my ‘fear’ of what has been happening to me; poor short-term memory, problems with numbers, recurrence of aphasia and being lost on ‘known’ routes when driving.


I have been very afraid of falling and hitting my head again since I finally understood the severity of my TBI in 2006 – over six years after falling on my head. Until this time I had no idea why my brain was ‘different’ to how it had been before. I didn’t even recognise that I was like a five-year-old child again. I didn’t understand and had no awareness of the possible peril I was in.


I fought tooth and nail to ‘recover’ and started work again in April of this year. I have written about being thrust back into the ‘external’ world but failed to understand what it was doing to me.


Over the last weeks / recent months I have been experiencing difficulties that I believed I had left well behind. I didn’t believe I could possibly be ‘regressing’ as these periods also seemed to be well in the past.


I know that I am acutely self- aware of how my brain works and have an incredible amount of experience and quite a lot of knowledge about broken brains. I had eliminated all causes other than early onset dementia, brain tumour or Alzheimer’s disease. You, I am sure, will be as happy as I am to learn that I have none of these and have not lost any marbles.


I spoke to a specialist today – an incredibly understanding and informed one. I did this over Skype and it was all paid for by my incredible friend Colleen Butler (BC). Dr Kate Brooks explained to me that my functionality has all been ‘learned’ following my fall. She also explained that this learning is ‘low-level’ functionality in that it hasn’t been growing over the 49 years that I have been on this earth but, rather, is still all ‘new’ and raw.


I trained myself to function again. I trained myself how to be back ‘here’ in the world; how to function and how to cope with the ‘outside’ world.


What had never occurred to me was how fragile this ‘learned functionality’ is and how little it can take to undermine it. I thought that I had these learned skills ‘embedded’ within me and now I understand that this is not true. These learned functions are frail because they came ‘from scratch’ and were not repositioned over anything that had previously existed but has weakened after my TBI.


In my book I talk a lot about starting from scratch and so I was fully aware even as far as three years back that this was what I had done. Because I had remained isolated my ‘new’ ‘skills’ had had the time to rebuild without too much question and very little stress. Isolation kept me in a place where I could grow stronger and starting work again, stepping back out in the ‘outside’ world has without doubt undermined the fragility of these ‘new’ ways of functioning.


Dr Brooks explained to me that I am not losing my marbles and everything she said made full and absolute sense to me. I have been regressing – not developing some awful early-onset disease as I had feared.


I am a strong and determined person. I can get so focused on these aspects of me and on pushing myself on that I can switch off my ears, go into denial, and miss the point that life is trying to show me.


I am ‘me’ again tonight thanks to Dr Kate Brooks courtesy of Colleen Butler. I am totally and completely filled with gratitude that I have been through this experience – because now I can share it with you all and can ‘prepare’ those who are following behind me. It happened for a reason I am sure, and now I understand it I can make the necessary changes to protect myself and move on again.


Many things confused me about the ‘outside’ world once I had rejoined it. I rejoined it before I was ready and, the thing is that I ‘knew’ I wasn’t ready. I literally jumped out of the fat and into the fire because of family issues.  I have been more acceptable since I started to work again – now no one has to say that I don’t work because I have a brain injury – and then feel embarrassed because everyone could see that I could walk and talk.


Because I was struggling people were inadvertently able to undermine my self-confidence and it happened so slowly that I didn’t fully notice it. I know that I kept fighting to keep my head above water and was aware that I truly did not understand uninjured people. I didn’t understand how they could be so unaware that they alone are responsible for their choices. I couldn’t fathom out what drove people and why they acted out of such fear. I honestly didn’t have a clue as to why they didn’t have any understanding of the fact that they make choices based on who they are, how they think, what they believe. I found so many people caught up in their own dramas that I was persistently befuddled.

I made one new friend, who was not like this at all, and I thank goodness for her and for her friendship that has kept me sane. I am also grateful for friends, like Colleen, who could see the stark differences in me.


I now understand that my inability to understand created stress within me; the stress undermined the fragility of my ‘low-level’ functionality. I fought my way past and through these episodes and so believed I wasn’t stressed at all…  I believed I could ‘make’ my personality see me through. Now I understand I needed more than strength – I needed more knowledge.


As I rebuilt myself from scratch I came to rely on these new ‘skills’ and trusted they would always be there. I failed to realise that they were still ‘babies’ as far as my brain and psyche were concerned. They were still fragile because they hadn’t been there long enough to truly become a part of ‘me’ again…


I became so confident that I was beginning to wonder if we could actually recover from a brain injury. I am back to first base on this – TBI is a life-time thing – but this doesn’t ever mean that we can’t keep going and it can never possibly mean that there is no way through…


My Angels have been with me tonight with thanks also for healing prayers sent to me from Ireland. I am emotionally filled with gratitude right now. So many of you literally jumped to the mark and were there for me and you all know how much I love you all.


There is nothing like our TBI family for understanding and compassion. I thank you one and all…


Now I am armed with even more understanding! Watch this space folks!!! J

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