Challenge Yourself Everyday!

A PART OF ME WANTS to be extremely successful but also wouldn’t mind seeing the entire world crumble. I know what you’re thinking. This guy is crazy, something is wrong with him. Maybe there is something wrong with me or maybe I’m just in deep thought?

Whatever it may be neither is wrong or right.

“Don’t grow up, it’s a trap”

I love this quote and came across another great quote this morning that was by Jim Carrey while giving a commencement speech.  

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

I guess if we are all on the opposite side of wanting to see the world crumble than we must all want to succeed. However, I get the feeling that everyone is fighting it out and pointing fingers at each other saying I’m better, we’re better, I’m going to crush you, and so on and so forth.

All this recklessness leads us down a nowhere road and our spike in mental illness, in my opinion.

As an example, baby boomers are hating on millennials and the next minute millennials are hating on baby boomers with OK Boomer memes taking over the internet. What is going on?

I just want to whip and do the nay nay and not get kicked out of Starbucks for it. Now, if I was to dance randomly in a public place where people don’t dance, I probably wouldn’t do the nay nay. To be honest, I can’t even remember what the nay nay dance is, but I do want to start challenging myself everyday doing one thing that scares me. Standing up from my computer and dancing in the middle of a Starbucks would be exactly that!

So, I’m going to do it. Here we go as live as you’re reading this. I turn to the girls to my right and say, hey I’m challenging myself daily so I’m going to stand up right now and dance. Don’t be alarmed. You’re safe!

They laugh and I stood up, raised my arms and started moving my hips in a dance picking up one feet after the other. They smiled, laughed and gave me a woot!

Just what I needed!

To my left is an older man wearing a beige leather jacket, blue jeans and black tennis shoes. He smirked and laughed under his breathe.

I don’t know the meaning of life but I’m going to start doing things I love more and not grow old to regret the past. I guess, this is a test for me!

Overcoming Obstacles!

Stay on your timeline-

I wish my goals and dreams were accomplished faster. Whether it’s my career, relationships or improving my disability.

Following my original brain injury the journey to becoming independent was long and hard but I eventually got there. And while I know every brain injury survivor doesn’t have the luxury of pure independence everyone has attainable goals they want to achieve.

I’m not sure if I’m the only person that feels this way but it seems like I’ve often gone 1 step forward and 2 steps back many times. Now, while this isn’t always the case, it’s put me in a position to always be looking forward and not dwell on the past. It’s easy to sulk, whether you’re down about the brain injury that happened to you and how it flipped your life upside down but you have to remind yourself you still have a choice.

You have a choice on how you react to the things that happen to you in life. It’s your opportunity to climb the hill and overcome an obstacle or to do nothing and stay where you are. What gives me motivation is knowing I have control how I react to these challenges and if I can overcome the majority of them it’ll make life more fulfilling!

It’s all about perspective. How will you react to your next obstacle?

Your New Body & Mind

Feeling dizzy can be an odd feeling at times and a scary one, especially when you’re standing in the middle of a room full of people. I don’t know about other brain injury survivors but when this happens to me the first thought that passes through my mind is that I’m hemorrhaging from my brain again. The reason this thought comes to me is because the dizziness is often followed by my left leg falling asleep and becoming tingly. This scared the living day light out of me when I was younger and discovering my new body following my brain injury.

At some point I had to learn how my “new” body and mind works, and it took trial and error to get there.

After returning home following my first brain bleed, I remember how different and scary it was discovering my new body when I did something as simple as lay down to go to bed. Fortunately, this didn’t happen for too long but every time I would lay in bed and get cozy and ready to sleep the night away something would happen. This thing that happened scared me and led me to praying every night that I’d wake up alive the next morning. I remember having fear I wouldn’t be alive in the morning.  

This became a new normal of my life which I was in the beginning stages of discovering my new and different body as a brain injury survivor left with aftereffects. What happened is that my entire left side would go tingly like it fell asleep, like the symptom during the day of my original brain bleed.

It may seem like a stretch praying every night that I’d wake up healthy and alive the next morning but after being in a hospital and a coma, unconscious for 6 months you might assume I was left with a few post traumatic insecurities.  

Later on – The occasional left leg falling asleep or dizziness when I stand up too fast after sitting down for a long time became something I’m used to. Like, if I’m with a group and everyone stands up together to relocate there’s been a few occasions where I didn’t panic because my foot fell asleep but rather just say to the group, I’m going to need a minute, I’ll be there soon.

I’ve feared this happening during an actual fire alarm emergency but luckily it hasn’t happened yet. If it did happen, I know I’d figure something out and survive. I mean, I survived a brain hemorrhage for god sakes. Not much can take me down. I’m not sure if the apocalypse was to happen that I wouldn’t survive. Surviving what I went through has left me feeling invincible.

Feeling invincible- It took me awhile to get there and while I don’t always feel invincible, I was only able to have this feeling once I understood what I had overcome and was familiar with my new body and mind. Now, when I have a dizzy spell or tingly feeling in my leg, I’ll say to myself “I’m okay but if I was getting sick again, I’ll survive. I’ve already beaten it twice!”

For myself it was about becoming comfortable with the occasional dizzy spell or numbness in my left side. I just had to remember this is my “new” body and mind!

Brain Talk: Feeling down about your brain injury

The other day I spoke with a fellow brain injury survivor who was feeling troubled. We all struggle at times and I’m happy this brain injury survivor came to me about what was on her mind because it’s important to let others around you know when you are struggling.

She said:

I don’t want to have a pity party but I’m having a moment where I’m so frustrated/hate my head injury because I feel like everyone is moving on with their lives/ I feel so behind and I feel very left out of regular things people my age do.

I told her I’m sorry you feel frustrated with your head injury and I understand where you are coming from. My advice is that you can only focus on your time frame and not what others are doing around you. Life is like a long story (hopefully) and every moment isn’t going to be spectacular. I think it’s important to appreciate what you do have!

I asked her to try an exercise for me. Think of 5 people in your life you are grateful for. Could be your mom, a friend, teacher, artist, whoever.

I told her to do this exercise because it’s an easy way to shine a bright light when you are feeling gray.

It’s easy for many brain injury survivors to feel left out because they’re often left a different person after their injury. Some now have physical, mental or speech challenges which restrict them from doing “normal” things they used to do prior to their injury.

We all expect life to be this big beautiful amazing thing, but we forget that it’s filled with many minor and insignificant moments. Sure, when you look at the span of your entire life from afar and admire your moments of adversity and triumph, life can seem pretty great. You may feel proud of the things you overcame. However, when you get sucked into the minor insignificant moments that at the end of the day, don’t matter and are not a part of your story it can throw you off.

Don’t let this happen. Think of the big picture and look at your life as a story of peaks and valleys. Admire yourself for the challenges you overcame and for the challenges you will conquer in the future!

I once asked my mom; do you think there’s supposed to be more to life?

She paused with a smirk on her face and said you know what your grandpa said? You work, spend time with family and friends and that’s it.

It’s a very simple perspective my Grandpa had, but I think what makes his statement most true is that he loved his family, friends and he loved to work.

Do what you love!

9 Months Later By Farah Patel

Note to reader: Farah Patel is a brain injury survivor who was introduced to Brain Talk through her story on LinkedIn. She’s an inspiration. Enjoy her guest column below!

Back in August, I wrote this article on LinkedIn about getting back to work almost immediately after having my aneurism.  I realize now, I wasn’t in the right mind.

Nine months later, I stand for everything opposite of that article, and I think its because the reality of what happened took a long time to process, and I am still processing it.  The first six months, it was like a novelty: oh, you have to be on disability, oh you have go to the doctor every week, or your life is now insurance bills, oh you can’t go to work and you have to stay home and recover.  Oh.

After 6 months, I realized I did feel a little stronger in my body, and my mind was coming back.  I didn’t want to work in tech anymore, and while I still had my ambitious attitude, I realized I wanted to slow down and stop working, and focus on getting my body healthy again so I could make a full recovery.

I also realized how superficial everything is, from people to the things we do for work and call it our “livelihood”.  I didn’t need to work in tech and be a top salesperson in Silicon Valley and have a reputation to be someone, or prove something.  None of that mattered anymore. I did a complete 180.

I realized the things that matter really aren’t tangible, as cliche as it sounds.  I am sure throughout the rest of my recovery (and probably my life), my mind will constantly change, and perhaps the novelty of slowing down will wear off, and I’ll become jaded again.  I am open to whatever my brain is thinking and doing right now.  I am letting it give its opinion and listening to it. Often, we try to control our brains and thoughts, but right now I am just letting it experience becoming healthy again.  

Hi Brain!  I have been ignoring you for 39 years, and I am sorry.  I acknowledge you.

I did what my brain told me to do, and I am currently taking time off to live in India, where my brain was telling me to go.  And as I continue to recover, I will let my brain, heart, and body guide me in the right direction.

Ask for help: Stubborn about your brain injury

There are moments as a brain injury survivor when life gets tough- Especially for the many who suffer after effects from their brain injury like physical limitations, mental health disorders, anxiety, dizziness, migraines or concussions. And while the word suffer may seem like an exaggeration, for some reason when we are having a tough time, we wait until the very last moment to ask for help. Don’t fault yourself for this or go ahead and fault yourself. The truth is stubbornness is human nature because we want to make everyone around us think our lives are perfect and flawless when in reality we’re all challenged and stuck in some way or another.

Moreover- Our social media accounts aren’t a real portrait of our lives and most of the time only include pictures, videos or stories of our great moments because we want to show off in some way. Like for myself, I didn’t post a picture of me Thursday morning in sweat pants and messy hair driving to the store to buy a plunger to unclog my toilet. Who in their right mind would care to hear about my clogged toilet? But here I am writing about it with hesitation and a smirk as I sip on my morning coffee.

Do you want to know the truth about me? Even when I was walking through the store I was focused on my gate wondering if others were looking at me like “what’s wrong with him?”

We do this in many ways whether it’s our disability, clothes, face, hair, social status or whatever and I get it, we want to appear on top of the world but sometimes being grounded as salt to the Earth is more appealing.

Circling to the point, when you lean into your vulnerability and ask for help, others feel grateful you came to them and are more than likely to lend a helping hand. I can’t tell you how many times my brother and friends tied my shoes for me when I had trouble with fine motor skills following my brain injury. I still have friends who will do it for me automatically without my asking even though I can tie my own shoes now.

I love them for this…….

In closing don’t be stubborn about your disability and brain injury. People want to help and sometimes all you need to do is ask!     

Become the Mr. Miyagi of your anxiety

Wake up with your intentions-

 Stress fills our bodies not only during moments of adversity but also during moments of thought. Sometimes stress and worry is the first thing we allow ourselves to think the moment we wake up out of bed.

It’s sad it goes this way, but we often allow stress and anxiety to take control making us feel as if there’s no escape asking ourselves when is it going to end? I was feeling like this a few days ago and I don’t know where it came from or why I was feeling different?All signs were pointing to it’s a great day. I mean it was sunny, beautiful and warm outside but for some reason in my mind it was cloudy, concerned and tired.

Furthermore, for any brain injury survivor who has a disability due to their injury you’ll likely agree that your disability increases during moments of stress making it more difficult to function.

For myself, it made the day more challenging and I wasn’t happy these feelings of worry were hanging over me like a dark cloud. However, I was determined to make sure each day following for the rest of my life will be different.

How do I accomplish something so grandiose? Continue reading…….

When I woke up the following day, I felt completely different. Why did I feel different and free of stress?

I woke up with the intention of feeling great!

Rather than giving stress or worry control, I replaced it with positive thoughts and how I wanted to feel or what I wanted to accomplish for the day. It sounds so simple but when you intentionally channel your thoughts for how you want to feel it’ll make a positive change to your attitude and life.

For my fellow brain injury survivors out there, and this also includes people who deal with concussions, migraines, anxiety and other mental health disorders, replace your negative thoughts with positivity. Tell yourself no longer will I allow negative thoughts consume me. Vision how you want to feel, what you want to happen and pursue your goals to succeed. When you have a positive goal in front of you it gives you something to shoot for and helps you forget the negativity!

I wish you all heath and happiness!