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Louise reads her new poem, Blessings:


 

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A Life Interrupted: Living with Brain Injury

Fall-ing Down A Rabbit Hole  

It’s fall, and once again, I feel like I’m falling down a rabbit hole into the dark. This is the season of cooler temps in Florida. So I can get outside much more in the middle of the day. That should be good. However, I still feel like I’m entering a dark hole.


In Chicago, where I grew up, this is the season of warm, lively, feel-good colors. We moved from Minneapolis two years ago. I used to take a daily walk on fall mornings in the midwest. This time of year crimsons, reds, oranges, rusts and golds just glowed on the trees as I walked down the street. I am sad that fall colors are nowhere to be seen in Florida. The adventure of a new landscape is wearing off. However, lucky for me, I get to see fall colors on Facebook.


Days are shorter now, even in Florida. I talked to a couple people this week who also feel lower in mood. They also both reported histories of low moods every fall. Just this week, I read an article that said sensitive people who find themselves feeling low this season, are in tune with the energy of the season. Nature winds down as it prepares for dormancy. My energy winds down too, and I find myself more reflective about another year of my life.

As I remember beautiful changing colors up north, I am challenged to remember the gifts in my life this past year.


This year holds memories for me of travel in February, March, April, May, June, July, and September. I got to see family, reconnect with a long lost dear cousin in Chicago, old friends and family in Chicago and Minnesota, and dear friends in Boulder. I also got to travel to New York and see both grandsons for their birthdays! My daughter and her family came down over spring break. And we went to see Key West to see my son, (on a mini-sabbatical), and his wife and adorable dog, Angel. She is quite the angel!


I must say, I don’t miss the cold. I don’t miss the long winters. I don’t miss snow...much. I don’t miss very short days. I don’t miss being inside for 6 months of the year in Minneapolis. I don’t miss driving in the snow. I don’t miss the fear of slipping on ice. I don’t miss skidding to a stop. I don’t miss feeling trapped inside.


I do miss autumn walks on sunny days. I miss seeing a colorful array of leaves dressing trees. I miss seeing leaves decorating the grass and sidewalks and hearing them crunch underfoot. I miss the crisp air of fall. I miss wearing my fleece layers. I miss lighting our fireplace.


I miss the smell of burning leaves from when I was a child. I miss raking leaves for our kids to jump on and roll in. I miss making soups and stews for dinners. I miss wrapping up in a blanket in front of the fireplace and watching a good movie with my husband. I miss my kids, a whole lot. Now my tears start. 

A Walk to the Beach in Darkness

Posted on October 22, 2015


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 moody brain. 

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 could also be reasons for not feeling so warm and fuzzy. 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 where disorder and chaos reign.


As I walked, 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 even 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. I have to say, it was magic, pure magic!!!


I now had a 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.


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

I kept my eye out for more to shoot. I got to the beach and the water was beautiful and calm, 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.

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’ (home) helped my mood lessen. What a gift I got from Susannah’s book!

On my way back, I stopped and talked to 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 and I learned 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 her creations that she sells.

I made a connection with a fellow 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, connection and the magic of the ocean. 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!

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