As the weeks passed I became increasingly aware of how the traumatic event of my husband’s passing affected my brain function. I was beginning to be concerned that I would not recover, that somehow the damage would become permanent. I patiently waited for the fog to clear and normal abilities to return. But they did not. As I researched the subject, I found that there was a difference between the effects of trauma and grief. My symptoms looked all too much like the residual results of a brain injury or possibly early onset Alzheimers. Memory loss, inability to process normal interactions with individuals and groups of people, cognitive disabilities – specifically problem solving or critical thinking – were also affected. In some instances, my brain simply refused to function. It powered down or froze without warning, immediately landing me in bed.
In addition, I was feeling what one website describes as the effects of trauma:
Dissociation – severed connections among your thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, and sense of identity
Depersonalization – a dreamlike feeling of being disengaged from yourself and your surroundings
Derealisation – feeling that your surroundings are not real
I set about to try and aid in healing. The fear of permanently losing the ability to teach and complete complex internet related tasks pushed me to take matters in hand. I made a list of all the things that felt good, those that were uncomfortable, and those that caused me physical pain or brain freeze. I decided to employ a 3-2-1 scenario to my days. Do mostly what feels good, some of what is a little uncomfortable, and very little of what is difficult. I realized that slowly and carefully introducing difficult tasks is all part of the healing process.
Three parts of the brain are affected by trauma.
1. The Thinking Center is underactivated.
2. The Emotion Regulation Center is underactivated.
3. The Fear Center is overactivated
In order to strengthen the memory and activate the thinking center, I began learning relatively simple and interesting new things. Online classes in a genre that I am already familiar with have proven to be helpful. I am engaging my memory to learn but not pushing it to problem solve.
The reason our emotional center is so compromised is that it can’t bring order to the chaos of the event. Our overactive fear center needs to be gently and carefully brought back to normal. I noticed that performing simple tasks brings calmness and clarity. Organizing my living space has been very valuable. Painting textures, line work, and free brushwork, also good. Tapping into the subconscious, to a childlike state of play, somehow calms that fear center. I can’t tell you exactly why yet. I have my theories, but I will leave that for another post.
Thankfully, photography is still a way to bring order to chaos for me, focusing on one small part of the universe definitely helps. And I also come to the process with a ‘child mind’ and engage the subconscious in that way.
After employing these techniques I noticed progress. I feel a little less disconnected with the world and able to concentrate just a bit better. I feel encouraged. I know it will take time to heal and process the grief but I want to give myself every advantage.
Quotes taken from: