Stranded in civilisation

Once again, music has prompted another blog post. It plays a major part in my life, as I’m sure it does in many others’.

I was in a great mood yesterday. I had just done a workout and got the old endorphins flowing strong. I heard a song come on the radio, and without warning, I just started bawling. What just happened? Normally, when a song reminds you of a person, it holds quite specific memories. There is a clear association and you are able to mentally prepare yourself for the inevitable “tidal wave” of emotion.

Except in this case, I couldn’t relate the song to anyone. I didn’t even recognise the song. But it struck a chord in me, conjuring up such strong emotion that I couldn’t breathe, sadness enveloping me. It was so painful, it was like all my breakups rolled into one!

Last night I began thinking long and hard about who this song could be about. Then, this morning when I was in the Jacuzzi, I played it on my phone and I got a flashback of when I’d first heard this. I cried so much that I think the Jacuzzi was close to overflowing. I realised who the song was about:

Me, when I could feel myself slipping away.

The song can portray my feelings so much more effectively then any words possibly could, so here it is:


It was the tail end of 2011. After having my brain injury, I had managed to move into my own home. I had realised that the physical problems that I was left with were likely to be permanent. I was ashamed of myself and felt everybody had given up on me. I was on the verge of doing the same. I had zero self-esteem, feeling a fraction of my old self. I didn’t want the world to see me like this, so didn’t make any attempt to go out and make new friends. I was alone 95% of the time. It makes me so bloody angry when you see adverts to help people in Africa; what about the people down the road from you that society has “forgotten” about? Shouldn’t that be more of a priority? They’re simply existing, not living.

Where hundreds of people had gone out of their way to show support when I was in hospital, I can count the people who are now still here in my life, sadly on one hand. This may be because my friends are offended that I haven’t contacted them, thinking that I don’t value their friendship. This isn’t the case at all. I just don’t want to subject them to the awkwardness associated in dealing with my physical problems, and don’t feel I have anything to add to a friendship other than burdens.

The poor self-esteem results partly from a vicious cycle. Initially, I thought people were just being shallow, that’s why they were treating me as a lesser being. There is an element of being treated this way, but it is done passively. I believe it results from your own self-image. People reflect back to you what you portray to them. When you feel absolutely worthless, that is what you portray, so that is what you will often encounter in social situations, even when people have the best intentions. To get out of this vicious cycle, my advice to anybody with a disability would be to follow the following quote:

This guy....

Legend….

What’s most important about this, is that the “social reflection” of the injury disappears.

My advice to any friends of someone who’s recently acquired a disability would be:

The more distant they get, the more they need you. They do value your friendship, but don’t feel worthy of it. This reduction in self-esteem will get progressively worse if left unchecked. Please don’t let it get to the point where your friend values their self so little that they give up on themselves.

Part of the reduction of self-esteem after any brain injury is justifiable. I have recently been watching an absolutely fascinating series on BBC called The Brain with David Eagleman.

He talks about how YOU are a product of your brain. Therefore, if you have a brain injury, it is understandable why you would feel that YOU are lesser. Understandable, but not correct.

Until watching this series, I thought things such as memory were handled by a specific part of the brain. Not so. He asks you to imagine of the brain as a “city”. He then explains how things like memory can be compared to the economy in a city; a product of all elements of the “city” working together.

To take this one step further, you may have a smaller “city” to work with after a brain injury. But not only can a smaller city be a nicer place to live, it can be more meaningful. A fully operational city can be compared to London; very functional and efficient, but not a very meaningful place to live at all! Wouldn’t you rather live somewhere smaller and more relaxed like Todmorden, who are exercising a radical new way of life and having such a positive impact on the world?

About Nick Verron

Lead Ambassador for the Royal Bucks

Posted on February 9, 2016, in My blog, Top Posts and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 77 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    I think Nick has it spot on when he says:
    My advice to any friends of someone who’s recently acquired a disability would be:
    The more distant they get, the more they need you. They do value your friendship, but don’t feel worthy of it. This reduction in self-esteem will get progressively worse if left unchecked. Please don’t let it get to the point where your friend values their self so little that they give up on themselves.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. A very lovely song and i can see how it would trigger such an emotional response. I ,ust try and catch the series on the brain – sounds fascinating.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Clicked the link to iPlayer, thanks. I’m a bit slow sometimes – I’d have googled the name of the programme!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This song is so sad and sweet, I totally get how you could relate to it, to giving up on yourself. Wonderful post. I never really considered how folks who pull away might be the most in need of our attention. Thanks for that. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  5. i love this song. and it does have a strong power –

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was such a poignant post, Nick! Although nothing in my world can be compared to where you went through. But I know how it feels when all of a sudden and insight kicks in. It is that last drop that finally breaks a dam which was there for too long. And once the dam is rinsed away what remains is the strength we gained. That song made you see how far you’ve come. You made it! Now I have tears in my eyes!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love music too! Good for you and all you have done to heal yourself. Songs for me have memories that grab me instantly. A few of them, especially one, is tied to my grandmother for whom I shared the most love in all the world. It’s an Elton John song about dying, a father and a son. The son wastes away to nothing and the father remembers him, picking up his little body. I thought about my grandmother who wasted away to nothing. I would cry every time that song played back in ’94.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds like powerful song! Although I probably know it, and just haven’t put it in context. I have joked about music having the effects of an emotional T.A.R.D.I.S. it can transport you back to the exact time and place you first heard it, and you feel it as if you were there, experiencing it further that first time

      Like

  8. It’s a known fact that when a person acquires a disability, most of the people who were your friends before will drift away. Even if your disability means you’re unable to eat much at a restaurant. You’re sitting there eating a plain baked potato and they feel guilty. You explain you’re there for the company, not the food. So they don’t want to be around you any longer. I know this because it happened to me.

    It’s easy to start believing we’re substandard instead of differently-abled. Surviving disability takes strength. The friends who don’t call, who avoid you, who talk on the phone as if you’re their best friend when you call them and then say, “I have to go,” are the weak ones.

    You need friends as strong as you. Once I left the others behind, I found the best friends of my life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am quite new to the world of disability, so am finding out the hard way what goes on behind the scenes. I don’t believe that this proportion of friends would drift away. Maybe a large percentage, but I am convinced that I knew some good people. If I put myself in their shoes, it would be easy to mistake my distancing myself, for not caring. These people have their own busy lives to go about, so it is easy to understand why they may have let things slip. There is a certain amount of proactivity from both parties in any friendship. If yours diminishes, it’s understandable how theirs would to. They have never been in this situation either, so how are they to know that you need them more than ever? But I agree, some of your “friends” have no substance to their claims that they would be there for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. That is a really sad song, Nick. I don’t think many of us realise that after someone has been through such a traumatic injury that they distance themselves from friends and loved ones as they think they are going to be a burden to them or not be able to contribute to the friendship as they used to. It is such a difficult time for everyone and easy for misunderstandings to spoil things.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Music soothes the soul. Glad we have music around to enjoy. 🙂
    You say the most profound things. Bless you, Nick.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A wonderful yet poignant post, Nick. Your words always stay with me for a while after I’ve read them. You’ve confronted so many more difficult situations in your short life than many of us have ever had to deal with. And this is indeed a lovely soulful song.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have only blogged about a fraction of the situations. But do I feel victimised? No, I feel privileged. To have experienced all these different aspects of life is truly an honour. It has been very painful at times, but the reward is unquantifiable!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve actually been listening to this song quite often recently. Very poignant but a beautiful song. It’s very appropriate for what you are talking about with losing contact with friends following the injury, and maybe even losing contact with yourself too. excellent post.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi, Nick! I agree that music plays an important part in everyone’s life, and stirs so many memories. I very much enjoyed listening to these you posted today. Your story is so very inspiring, with all you have accomplished. I also thank you for the follow, and will definitely be coming back here to read more of your wonderful writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello! It is truly an honour that people take inspiration from times where I’ve just been trying to move forward with my life. Music is indeed very powerful; effective in conjuring memories. I didn’t know why I was doing this at the time (although may well have done subconsciously) but over the last few years, at triumphant times, I have been linking the memory to be recalled at a later date, simply by playing a song at the time.

      Like

  14. Powerful and insightful post, Nick. What you have to offer us is such a gift, thank you so much. I am truly glad you never did ‘give up’ on your self. You continue to impact and enrich the lives of those around you. Many blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Music can trigger p0rofound emotions, even if you haven’t heard it before. I had that happen when I heard Grieg’s piano concerto in A minor for the first time! A thing about people: your true friends are the ones that stick with you through thick and thin. It’s hard work to be a good friend but it’s worth the effort!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It is good that you didn’t give up, Nick

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I think it does us a lot of good to release our emotions once in a while. Also, you’re helping yourself by writing about your feelings. No one should hold everything inside. If others have a problem with your disability that’s their problem, not yours. They need to just get over it. Well done, Nick. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • It has done me the world of good. Very therapeutic indeed! I hope that my being honest about my feelings on a touchy subject will get people talking about things that have been shied away from. You’re spot on about it not being my problem what others think about my disability. In the book I’ve just written, I describe a session with the my psychologist, where we were talking about me being self-conscious about how others perceive me. He just said four words which really hit home and are exactly what you’re saying here; he said, “Why do you care?”

      Liked by 1 person

  18. You’re the second person to mention Eagleman’s show on the brain. I’m going to have to watch it. I completely agree with everything you wrote, Nick. We create our own reality in that what we project is reflected back to us. Our point of view colors our world. I love the analogy of the city, and we all have our own cities and villages, don’t we? I hope yours is increasingly lovely. As you say, it only takes a shift in perspective to make in a wonderful home 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eagleman’s show is very thought-provoking, making me question my reality, my perception of it and who I am. It is on iPlayer if you get a chance, although I think there are already three one-hour long programs, so you will need to set aside some time! Well worth it though. I would love to take credit for the “city” analogy, but it was all Eagleman. I agree, life is what you make of it. Interpretation moulds your reality; it all boils down to the “glass half full or half empty” analogy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. You’ve come a long way and it was a hard road, I know. I’ve always wondered why people are so eager to help people far away they’ve never met while failing to notice a neighbor who really needs help. But you made it and I hope things are better and will get better still for you. No one deserves it more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It has indeed been a hard road, but leading to a a very fulfilling and rewarding one. As I’ve always said, I would have done anything at the time to change things, but with hindsight I wouldn’t change a thing! Fingers crossed that the road is leading to more good things. Yes, we are very quick to help those faraway, when surely we should look closer to home first…

      Like

  20. Aw, geez – I just finished a lengthy comment and somehow lost it when I clicked on Follow before I posted it. Here’s the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version: Lots of people feel awkward when around people with disabilities of any kind, because they don’t know what is expected of them. If you have any speech limitations, they also may wonder if that includes comprehension. Their awkwardness leads them to stay away, not because they don’t care, but because they don’t understand. I hope that many of those friends are reading your blog. I would encourage you to reach out to them to help them understand and reconnect. (And those who don’t, weren’t worthy of you to begin with.) AND I love the David Eagleman brain series! One of these days when I’m not so busy I will go back and read some of your earlier posts and listen to the music. Thank you for your honest blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I feel for you! I’ve lost large comments a couple of times today. Sucks soooo much! You’ve hit the nail on the head there. I’ve said this over and over again. Embarrassingly, when I was on the other side of disability, my shortsightedness meant where I didn’t understand, I would avoid this situation to avoid said awkwardness. Not holding any opinion about the disabled person, thinking less of them or treating them as an inferior person. If I’m brutally honest, I was scared. Knowing I felt like this before, I am sure that others feel this way now about me. I do have many physical things that aren’t normal about me. This makes lots of people uneasy. There are those that see past this to the person on the other side. There are those that do not. Some of those people are the ones that will make assumptions that my level of comprehension matches the speed of my voice. When I first became disabled, I let this rule me. Now I just don’t care! It’s funny you should say about reconnecting with friends. Where I had shared this on a social media site, a friend I have lost contact with who I am convinced is a good person, liked it, leading me to believe that you may be right 🙂 oh God, I hope I don’t lose this message. Irony! I’m going to send it now before proofreading as I’m getting nervous…

    Like

  22. Another great piece Nick.

    I too, sometimes (like right now…today), feel very alone, probably self induced. I handle my illnesses and disabilities in a ‘fuck it, its not gonna go away so lets just get on with it’ kind of way which helps me to cope. but then there are the dark days like today where it catches me off guard and leaves me feeling like ‘Fuck it…whats the point?’

    Is it me just giving up on myself? It probably is, temporarily. I’ll climb out of it again, new day new start and all that.

    Then I see you and are reminded of what you deal with each and every day and feel stupid whining on about my ‘little issues’… I’m rambling here and I’m not eve n sure what point I’m trying to make…

    You’re a good lad and a motivation to us all.

    Keep up the good work, Nick, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Great post Nick. Love the quote and the song! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Nick, this was a poignant post. My mother used to always say that when things got tough a person would know who his real friends are. Beautiful, but sad song. You are strong, my friend. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I love this song Nick. So glad you somehow found and followed my blog so I could meet you. My mum had a brain injury last year, actually two operations that went horribly wrong, and she is no longer the same woman, no words, no mobility and yet still surrounded by a family who loves and misses her. I hope to get to know you through your blog which seems so inspirational. Best wishes from Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m very glad too! I’m sorry to hear about your mum. I just hope she is not in the position that I was when I couldn’t talk after just waking from my coma. I had 1 million thoughts going through my mind, but couldn’t express them. It’s so horrible when your thoughts are locked in your mind. At least I had enough function to be able to control my body enough to at least blink. Having people around you that to love you is invaluable, she is lucky to have that. I look forward to talking with you in the future. Best wishes from the UK!

      Like

      • Hey Nick, I think the hardest thing is not knowing what she knows, how much she remembers and not knowing (like you) what thoughts are in her head. Every day is different. Some days she smiles and looks content, others she looks so sad. And she has no words to tell us. It breaks my heart.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, the brain is such a complex device. By far, the most complex contraption in the known universe. That’s why human comprehension of them is so basic.I’m sure you will have already tried everything you can think of, but my thinking is: If you already know this, then no harm done, but there is a very small chance that I could help somebody in need. So, just have a look at this video on YouTube 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks Nick. It’s a pretty amazing video. We’ve tried this with mum, it helped a little and there was a bit of a response but nothing major. Still, it all helps. Any little thing we can do which elicits a response is better than nothing. We keep trying and we’re there for her, that’s all we can do. As you said, and as you well know first hand, the brain is complex, incredibly complex. Thanks again for sending the link Nick, appreciate it.

            Liked by 1 person

  26. Nailed it! Again, and answer to my prayers – for I just today had a conversation with one in ‘support role’ who feels safe to ask me about my experiences, and eager to hop over and email to them the links to this article and the other – because it’s another perspective of the root things that occur inside when Life throws ya a curveball – and to me, the only saving grace I had during my journey, was through people honest enough to say, “I was so focused on this, I dropped this” OR “This is why it looked that way from the outside, but here’s what was going on inside” – 🙂 Thanks Nick! – (oh, heck, deleted the rest, guess I gotta go right a blog about it all – LOL)

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Views from an Injured Brain | Nick Verron

  2. Pingback: Independence day | Sue Vincent – Daily Echo

  3. Pingback: The Feathered Seer – The observer – The Silent Eye

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them…

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: