My sister finds me sitting in the shower, crying.  The amnesia has unhinged me.

How did I get here, what day is it, how long have I been here?

As the hot water runs out, I try to connect the dots of reality.

I know I am here, alive, breathing, but that’s all I know.

I’m in the house I grew up in, staying in my old room, I have no memories, nothing makes sense. My mind is disconnected, as if I’m unplugged from my past.

Do I still exist if I don’t remember what happened an hour ago?

My sister is waiting for me outside the door, are you alright, sissy?

I’m not sure, all I know is, nothing exists beyond this moment. I reply.

Living in the Moment

Jill Bolte Taylor stroke survivor and author My Stroke of Insight, described her experience as a “journey into the abyss of a silent mind” when her left side of the brain, the part that processes logic, memory and time, shut down. Jill’s right brain was still functioning giving her a eurpheoric connection to all things in this world, the ultimate sense of living in the moment.

My headaches are on the left side of my head, the inflammation mainly affecting that side.

This concept amazes and terrifies me.

Throughout her eight year recovery, Jill maintained an attitude of fascination toward her brain. I find this inspiring, to use the same body part that’s injured to think about it, shows how strong and focused she is.

I am not feeling fascinated, nor strong, I’m petrified.

Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED Talk

Maybe Jill could maintain her fascination because she’s a neuroanatomist, fancy word for brain doctor, and I am not.

A journey into the abyss of a silent mind

Jill Bolte Taylor – My Stroke of Insight

Shower water gone cold, I crawl out and stay low. The moment I stand, my blood pressure drops, my head spins. I cannot control this, it happens automatically. I lie down to get the blood back to my brain. I stare at my hands, pale, lack of circulation, now numb, I think

These look like my hands, but they don’t feel like them. Why doesn’t my brain recognise my hands, why doesn’t brain pump blood into them?

I try to give myself a pep talk, , Sarah, you’re gonna be ok. But I can’t, I’ve lost the ability for self talk, I know what Jill means when she says the silent mind.

I have no ability to conceptualise any of this to my sister, who’s ready to drive to laser treatment, patiently waiting and worrying while I move in slow motion, like a space cadet.

I feel my inner light is going out, body and brain, weak, disconnected from me. Brain not communicating with my family, friends or with me even. I’m anable to move arms legs myself, vertigo, my body felt like someone else’s.

I’m locked inside my brain, for now, all I can do is continue my treatment and try to stay positive with fascination, it’s a big ask when my brain feels like spaghetti.

Which Way Is Up?

On the way to treatment, I wonder, If I don’t know where I am, remember who I am, does my body know how to heal?

I cannot rely on my own brain to steer me away from the terror of amnesia, I must find something else to guide me, I lean on another’s brain to guide me towards healing.

I dig out my old meditations by Dr Bernie Siegel who got me through trauma of divorce previous year, and listen to that familiar voice once again.

When a seed is planted and puts down roots, and send up a shoot, how does it know which way is up?

Trust your body, it knows what to do, which way is up and how to heal.

Dr Bernie Siegel

I’m grateful that the laser is bringing new blood into my inflammed brain, conscious my thoughts and feelings will aid my healing and the new neural pathways formed during this time will help my brain move in a positive direction, I use these healing visualisations everyday.

Luckily my creative right brain which is still working, and I’m able to hold positive images of myself. I draw the visualisation and blu tac it on wall next to my bed.

My drawing of Dr Bernie’s visualisation

In your mind, walk outside. Look at the garden. Decide where another flower can be planted to bring beauty into the world.

And prepare the soil, and plant a seed, and then become that seed and be aware as you sit in that seed of an inner knowing that says how to put down roots and in which direction, to nourish and give you strength and which way to grow and which obstacles to push aside so that you can break out into the sunlight and stretch your limbs out to the sky and grow, bloom and blossom.

And become that unique velvety petal with beautiful colours and aroma. A beautiful flower and blossom, unique individual and beautiful you are and grow, bloom and blossom.

And the make that flower apart of yourself and continue on your journey.

Dr Bernie Siegel
Dr Bernie Siegel’s Meditation

Become that Seed

Back home from laser treatment, in my backyard, I lie on the grass, soaking up the winter sun.

Since I’m literally using light to heal my inflammed brain, both from the lasers and sunlight, I imagine I’m that seed Dr Bernie mentioned, I’m giving my cells the energy it needs to heal, grow and bloom.

My outer world has slipped way, I have no sense of reality, time, location or why I was there.

Life becomes inwardly focused. I notice the small things. I saw two rainbows while sitting in sun and meditating in the backyard. I would have never noticed them if I wasn’t taking time out to heal. It reminds me life is still beautiful even in those slow, uncomfortable moments.

If I try to hold a thought in my mind, my brain rebels and knocks back the thought. I drift to nothingness.

From moment to moment, I lie there, staring up sky. Sometimes three to four hours pass and I don’t even notice.

Surrender to the Quiet

As my mind and body no longer feel like mine, I surrender my mind and body to this quiet space, not because I’m suddenly spiritually enlightened but because I’m forced to, I have no choice but to let this situation be. I have no brain power left for anything else.

Sipping tea, pondering. If my left brain is not functioning, no thoughts buzzing around my head, what is talking to me?

I feel the sun falling on my face, my cells soaking up the natural laser.

I notice the birds at different times of the day, they become my friends, the morning birds, cockatoos, wattle birds, miners, and then the mid morning , lorikeets, lunch time stillness and quiet time, when heat of day, birds resting, a lonely crow, then afternoon activity, the pigeons on the jacaranda tree, then evening busy-ness before nightfall.

I go deep inside the silence, no music or sound in my mind, no memories and find my flame still burning bright, everything else stripped bare.

All this life around me, in my own backyard.

Then I knew I was still alive, I recognised my presence, existing in this moment. No idea who I was, how I got here, but happy to not know and released any expectation grasping for fact. There was stillness in that world.

From this inner space, I find the peace inside. I imagine my spirit inside is never touched by illness or injury.

The soft grass, clear sky, the breeze, the birds, and imagined I was one with all around me.

I sat like this for many months, each day the same, staring at the sun.

Where am I?

I am in the sun.

And in that moment, life becomes as simple as that.

I rest there.

Thanks for listening

Mermaid tail

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