Today was a very frustrating day. My spouse and I were analyzing our life and trying to figure out any possible way to make the things we need to accomplish more efficient; how to make us more capable of handling life.
As often happens during this discussion, the topic came up at how much my spouse struggles with day to day tasks. Taking a shower can be a monumental task, and sometimes simple things like making a cup of tea are so impossible that I need to do it for them. This makes most jobs or working from home impossible. Not only is working incredibly hard for my spouse, but neither of us has had any idea on what to do to help make tasks actually achievable when even the simple mundane tasks of the day are hard.
Every time we’ve looked into possible solutions, we’ve drawn a blank. Depression covers the emotions and sluggishness, but the reluctance to do things isn’t reluctance, it’s a lack of comprehension. ADD covers the lack of focus, but common ADD remedies don’t accomplish much. Maladaptive daydreaming fit some of the more fantastical sides of my spouse’s thinking, but it wasn’t the reason why they were struggling to accomplish tasks. We’ve looked into so many different possibilities that I had started thinking that maybe there wasn’t some diagnosis for whatever was going on. Maybe it was some sort of unknown disorder that would get discovered some day. But getting a diagnosis for a disorder that didn’t exist yet seemed worse than impossible.
Then my spouse and I started discussing the nature of whatever this mysterious disorder was. Something about all these various symptoms seemed connected somehow, rather than multiple co-morbid disorders. After all, the simplest solution is usually the answer, and one diagnosis seemed more likely than a huge handful. My spouse mentioned that one of the odd aspects of whatever was going on was that it seemed less like a mental disorder and more like a neurological problem of some sort.
And that was when something clicked for me. I remembered a book I’d read about someone else who’d had trouble figuring out why they were struggling so much. I remembered how they had been repeatedly pushed into treatments for depression like my spouse had been. I remembered the fuzzy shifting world this book had described that sounded similar to my spouse talking about how “Wonderland-y” the world was sometimes.
The book was But I’m Not Depressed by Lia Rees. In the book, Lia describes in detail how she struggled to figure out what was happening to her when she got a brain injury, and the struggles she has gone through so far trying to get diagnosed while also struggling with everyday life.
I mentioned the book to my spouse (who has been interested in reading it, but hasn’t yet because books are usually too much effort unless they’re large print and/or young children’s books), who mentioned that oh yeah, they’d actually had a bad head injury as a child, but it hadn’t seemed very important. There had also been a brain scan when they were a child that showed something in their brain the doctors couldn’t identify, but since they couldn’t identify it, it was never diagnosed. Apparently, my spouse had also been meaning to research Traumatic Brain Injuries because they had related to the struggles they’d heard when talking to someone else with a brain injury. My spouse had just never gotten around to the research because things are so hard for them to keep track of. (Hmmm.)
So I researched it on the spot. And several hours later, it feels like my whole world has been blown. Every single symptom my spouse suffers from, everything we’ve tried to fix can be connected to a potential brain injury. For the first time ever, everything is accounted for with one diagnosis.
Then I looked into ways to help a spouse with TBI, and kept asking my spouse, “Would this help? Would this help?” They ended up in tears because they had never been able to express these things that would be so helpful, and finally they were hearing things that would make life finally livable.
I’m going to need more research into TBI before I can be totally certain. I don’t know whether we’ll be able to get my spouse a diagnosis or not if it’s true. But today, for the first time, I was able to figure out how to help my spouse with their migraine in a concrete way and get them feeling better and more relaxed within a matter of minutes. Minutes, when a migraine has been known to be something we’ve had to try and battle for an entire day in the past. Just being able to do that made me cry. Normally I feel so helpless when I try to help my spouse.
Whether TBI is exactly the right answer or not, I think we’ve finally managed to get pointed in the right direction. At the very least, I now have a whole list of coping strategies that I’ve been told would be enormously helpful. And it’s all because of a book.
This is exactly what I mean when I say books can change the world. Sometimes changing the world may be getting people to think about something differently, and sometimes it may mean being the one piece of information that might one day make all the difference when someone remembers your book. Sometimes that one book you think no one will want to read may end up changing one person’s life completely.
I cannot recommend Lia Rees’ But I’m Not Depressed enough. The entire book was poetic and gorgeous and a pleasure to read. Plus now it may have made the difference between functional and nonfunctional for my spouse. This is exactly the kind of books we need more of in the world.
To get your own copy of the book, go here: https://www.amazon.com/But-Im-Not-Depressed-disintegration-ebook/dp/B01NAE03PQ/
And if you would like to check out more of Lia Rees, here are some further links:
Amazon Author Page: viewauthor.at/LiaRees