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A Walk to the Beach in Darkness

Posted on October 20, 2015 at 2:15 PM

I woke up with one of those icky moods that perhaps only a person with a brain injury and PTSD knows - dark, meaningless, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn't want to hear a male voice, (I live with my husband, so that’s a problem, right there), I just wanted to be alone. I thought about going to yoga, but the appliance repair man was on his way and my husband was in a meeting in his home office, so I was tied to the inside.


After the repairman left, I decided to take my phone (with piano music-my absolute favorite sound EVER!-on Pandora) and go for a walk by the ocean where the best kind of ions, (negative) float in the air. I hoped those negative ions would help my brain.

 Photo Credit: Louise Mathewson

I wasn’t sure if it was my injured brain causing trouble, or my adrenals, (somewhat fatigued by too much stress), or my auto-immune thyroiditis, otherwise known as Hashimoto’s, the fall season with less light, our condo being in a state of dis-ease from renovation work, the Cubs losing twice to the Mets, or that I am still grieving over leaving the Midwest, the Heartland, where I’ve lived most of my 68 years. Or it could be all of those ganging up on my brain creating havoc. I just knew I needed to get out, away from this space.


On my walk, I thought about a book, This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart  by Susannah Conway, I read a few years ago, when moods were at their worst. Back then I couldn’t get myself to go outside and take a walk, which I knew was a healthy thing to do. Susannah wrote about taking photographs outside during her journey with grief. Back then I was game for anything that might help a mood take the high-speed train to Mexico! And I knew I liked to take pictures. So out I went, and I have to say, it was magic, pure magic!!!


I now had a new way to deal with moods that actually worked! Supplements, writing, meditation, changing my thoughts or neuroplasticity, (screw it!) do not yet work for MY limbic system with low blood flow. That means too little oxygen and nutrition get to my limbic system (basal ganglia, thalamus, cingulate, insula.) (I didn’t make this up, it’s from a neuropsychiatrist’s report of spect-imaging of my injured brain.) Believe me, I’ve done enough research I could write a book, but my memory and cognition, (damaged areas of my brain) aren’t in good working shape for composing all this abstract stuff into a coherent - aww, just too much work and stress!


On my mission, a walk to the beach, I saw 3 ibis’ on a fence by the inlet, and took my first “snap” of the day!


Photo Credit: Louise Mathewson

With my new-found eye I kept my eye out for more to shoot. I got to the beach and the water was beautiful on a windy day (an easterly wind makes the ocean calm - I note the diametrical opposition in nature.) I had to take a video '20 seconds of gulf peace’, followed by shots of the beautiful blue, then a shot of yellow daisies at the edge of where the ocean ‘took a bite out of the shore’ and where an egret stood on the water’s edge.


Photo Credit: Louise Mathewson

Next, two deserted beach chairs, blue and green, grabbed my attention, followed by yellow daises with a water background. A little farther on more yellow daisies, rosy-mauve flowers and tall grasses with the ocean blue in the background, and I’m in heaven, totally distracted away from my dark mood! Being out in nature taking pictures, being able to focus on something besides my uncomfortable ‘safe place’ (aka home) helped my mood lessen. What a gift from Susannah’s book!

 Photo Credit: Louise Mathewson

On my way back, I saw an artist painting hummingbirds, and her version of magical fish. They look a little like lion-fish, mostly blues, with some orange, yellow, and red on the hummer’s chest, just gorgeous!  We talked enough for me to learn she is an environmental activist, who is down taking care of her elderly parents. She comes to the beach every day to walk or do her art. She wants to write something poetic about how we are harming the ocean, to go along with the creations that she sells.


 Photo Credit: Louise Mathewson

I made a connection with an artist on the beach. Connecting with someone with similar interests also brought me joy!

This morning FB friends and a left-brained actuary just weren't helping my mood - I needed the real thing, nature and connection. Through taking pictures as I walked the beach, I improved my dark, unfriendly mood. It didn’t heal the adrenal issues I have, my auto-immune Hashimoto’s or the brain injury, but I felt better and I could write this!

A Life Interrupted: Living with Brain Injury

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Categories: TBI, Healing Resources, Writing to heal