Personal Blog Posts

On Turning 28… “But You Look So Well”

Afternoon Tea on my birthday with my mum, “Oh what a lovely photo!” it is yes and I am very pretty… Not pictured however are the back and forth emails to the venue so I could have the perfect seat. The perfect seat for a 28 year old who gets overwhelmed going into shops and supermarkets because they’re always too noisy. A 28 year old that plans her life around sleep. A 28 year old who doesn’t get excited going into new restaurants, pubs or cafes because her first thought is ‘I hope I can get a quiet seat’ and one of the worst thoughts? Being envious of people who are sat in the middle of a noisy place and are managing to hold a conversation, because to me that is now impossible. It sounds so petty and I hate that I’m like that sometimes but at the same time I can’t help feeling that way. I imagine people without a brain injury can’t fathom this thought, you see… After a brain injury it’s the weirdest things that make you miss who you used to be, that make you mad or upset with yourself and that turn you into an envious person at times.

There is a difference between jealousy and envy, Homer Simpson covered it quite well. Envy sounds heartbreaking and sad, whereas jealousy just sounds spiteful:

And honestly that’s how I feel sometimes; heartbroken and sad. I felt this way as my birthday was approaching (and excited too obviously, but this blog post isn’t about that feeling everyone else has) I invited the neighbours around for my party and the conversation went like this:

“So how old will you be?”
“28”
“Still young”
“Yeah…”

Three dots after saying “Yeah”, because I said it reluctantly.

Reluctantly because I don’t feel young.

I often joke that Stephen’s 80+ grandma has a better life than me; she goes out more, she gets up early and does many things throughout her day without needing to nap, she can talk over a radio or a television (and all the ticking clocks in her house) and like many others she can sit in the middle of a noisy place and hold a conversation.

I joke but it’s true.

One of the worst things about being young and pretty (lol) is people saying “But you look so well”, once something like this has been said I just feel shot down. I smile or say “Yeah…” because, honestly… Why waste my time explaining what’s wrong with me if you shrugged me off before I even got a chance to explain myself. It’s not worth the energy. (PSA: Comments like these do not make people with something that is wrong with them feel better. I know you think you’re helping, but you’re not. Just say nothing)

Sometimes though, when I’m feeling brave I will use my energy to tell them what is wrong with me. They listen intently, ask questions (if they’re also feeling brave) and I hope they go away from the conversation looking at people differently. I know once I had my brain injury I looked at everyone differently, I was on a bus looking out of the window when I realised and thought to myself ‘How many people in the world look normal but are actually poorly or struggling?’

I need to follow my own advice and not compare myself to others but sometimes I just can’t. I’ve been having a lot of bad days recently and I think it’s because I am comparing myself to others my age, everyone around me seems to be doing so much better.

The one thing I’m struggling with the most is seeing friends becoming parents and to them it’s the best news ever… I cannot picture myself having a child right now and sometimes I think I won’t want to have one at all. I am so tired just being me and I struggle with the littlest things, how can I bring a child into my world? Yes I have Stephen, but the majority of the time I will be alone with the child… I feel like it would be the worst thing for me and not fair on the child, especially when I over hear conversations about how much the parents are struggling… Mainly with their lack of sleep. I look at a baby and I don’t see cute, I see something that scares me. It scares me because deep down I really want one; someone to love, to teach and to see grow.

I’m not sure how to end this blog post but I know I’d like to end it on a positive note, when I started writing I wasn’t expecting it to be so sad. I am doing well, I just need to tell myself that more often and stop comparing myself to others. I think if I’ve learned anything from this post I will stick up for myself more when people say things like “But you look so well”, even if it’s just for my own sanity… Hurtful comments stick with me for weeks, months and often years.

I do understand when people say I look well, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to say. Yes, I no longer look ill or poorly on the outside but I feel it everyday inside. I’m in pain everyday because of headaches that never leave me, exhausted most of the time, struggling with noise and dealing with a lot of mixed emotions that I can’t seem to get a hold of. Honestly, saying something like “That sucks”, would be ok to say.

Just think before you speak. When someone looks good, well, pretty, handsome, young, healthy, fit and so on it does not mean they are.

I wrote this before I wrote my most recent post; Focusing On The Positives When Living With A Brain Injury and reading both of these posts together I realise just how different each day with a brain injury is… How often my mood changes, I must have been feeling sad when I wrote this post but it’s all still true.

How are you doing?

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