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The Question I Struggle With During Encephalitis Recovery

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Where to next?

This is a question that has been playing on my mind for quite a few months now. With the recent setback/lack of diagnosis, with things being foggy more often than not, with this “weird, wonderful brain” of mine not operating properly, I’ve been questioning myself, my purpose, my future (both personal and professional) and desperately looking for some sort of direction. I seek directions by talking to health specialists, my psychologist, my partner, friends and by looking deep into myself to see what my strengths are that I can still utilize and count on to best move forward.

Throughout that introspection process, I think that I have basically questioned everything about me and around me:

  • Am I not trying hard enough to get better?
  • Am I still looking for answers that can’t be provided?
  • Am I missing a miracle cure?
  • Am I setting my expectations too high?
  • Am I putting too much pressure on myself?
  • Am I making bad decisions? Decisions that result in me tripping myself over and over again…
  • Am I not spiritual enough?
  • Am I not being accepting enough of my new normal?
  • Have I got the right people on board to support me?
  • Have I actually got it in me to keep trying, to keep showing up in spite of so many limitations?
  • Do I need to quit my job? If so, what the heck will I do next?
  • Do I need to train harder to build my strength again or should I just cocoon up?
  • Should I be more open to trying left field stuff?
  • What could I change in my eating habits that could become a game changer?
  • Do I just need a really long holiday to reset things up?
  • Am I asking myself too many questions?

This blimey list could keep going on and on, but I think that you have the gist of it, so let’s leave it at that. See, I’ve thought long and hard (believe me) about all those questions mentioned above, and I’ve found that they all have an answer of either “Yes, but” and “No, but.” The reality is that no two days are exactly the same. The reality is that even a firm yes can turn into a firm no or vice versa at any point in time on any given day.

So please someone, just tell me what I need to do and I’ll happily do it. I see so many things falling one by one around me — my health, abilities, friendships and motivation — but at the end of the day, all it is that I am seeking is some clarity on things. (A guide on “How to get better after encephalitis and brain injury for dummies” would be greatly appreciated!)

As a result, the truthful answer is I don’t exactly know “where to next”… not quite, anyway. I know that writing is helping me organize my thoughts, learn about myself, make some sense of all these changes and it is also helping me find the positive in the negative so I’m keen to keep that going for a while longer. But where will all this writing lead me is still a big question mark?

There is perhaps one thing that is unquestionable for me and it is that I am determined to push through, to keep riding the wave even when I crash to see where it might eventually lead me. I’ve got three awesome boys and a wonderful partner who stand by me no matter “where to next” will be, so I owe it to them and to myself to keep finding a way through … month by month, week by week, day by day and sometimes hour by hour. Until some greater power decides that it is my time, tomorrow is another day and I’m still determined to sneak in as many smiles as possible.

I’d love to hear how you have come about finding your way back post encephalitis or brain injury. So many of us struggle with this question. It is probably more like a process than a question, but I feel that we can all benefit from our individual journeys.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

A version of this story originally appeared on the author’s blog.

Originally published: March 26, 2020
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