thoughts about my brain and trees

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I was sifting through some files on my desktop tonight, thinking I might take a little something and transform it into a haibun. And then I happened upon these two lines that I wrote last November:

When he died, a thing in my brain broke, too. I lack the ability to maintain an appropriate chemical balance in my brain, and for that I must take medication.

I stopped there. This, in some ways, is my life. When Scott died, a thing in my brain broke. I sunk into a major depression. It took several months for it to happen and when my brain broke, I broke. I broke completely. It took nearly a year to pull out of it. Lots of trial and error with medication. My depression went into remission for a short while—nine months, I think—before it happened again. Worse this time. I sunk deeper than I’d ever been. I feared I wouldn’t come back. I didn’t want to come back.

There was something inside of me that wasn’t broken, though. Some part wanted to live, wanted to grow and be in the world. My therapist and those closest to me spoke to that part of my brain that would listen. My psychiatric nurse practitioner fed medication to the other parts of my brain.

Months passed. Nearly a year passed.

It worked. The medication and therapy and support from friends and chosen family worked. All those things miraculously mended my brain. That was four years ago. My brain has been fine since then.

I take good care of my brain. I feed it medication every day and take it for walks and provide it with as much vitamin D as suggested. I write when my brain wants me to write. I rest when it wants me to rest. I keep my brain in the company of beautiful people with beautiful souls. I stimulate my brain with work that I love. I tend to it as best I can.

Even so, there is a piece of my brain that is forever broken. When Scott died my heartbrain was irrevocably damaged. Like a nurse log, that part of me lies dormant and decaying. Like a nurse log, that part of me is spawning new growth. Surprisingly, amazingly.

I started out 2011 saying that this would be the Year of the Kim. Then a lot of stuff happened. Love came surprisingly and went painfully. My heart grew and was broken. I said some hard goodbyes. And yet new growth continued to appear. That decaying piece, the piece that had laid there for years, fed and sustained that new growth.

This is where I am with the haibun. I like the analogy of the nurse log, and I hope to turn it, somehow, into a haiku.

Here is another truth about trees:

I can’t begin to count how many times people have told me I’m strong, that they admire my strength, that they can’t believe how strong I was in those days in Harborview, or in those days following that or in those days and months and years that I walked through my life with a broken brain.

They said I was strong. Like an oak, they said.

My therapist—years ago—told me that’s not the case. Those who are strong like oak trees often break. I, she told me, am strong like a willow. I move with the wind. I don’t snap. I don’t fall over.

nurse log

growth from decay

I recently outlined Acceptance and have plotted out 32 individual haibun. I’m not sure which one the metaphor of the nurse log will fit with, and I certainly don’t want to force it, but I like the image. In my brain, I see this picture, and I wonder how I should put it into words.





Author: Kim Sharp

more later

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