In 2018 I introduced a mantra into my life. Two simple words that carried an essence of calm during moments of uncertainty and fear. My name is Emily and I am a two-time brain aneurysm survivor. While empathizing with other survivors or families impacted, I also advocate for the importance of brain aneurysm awareness and early detection being imperative to saving lives.
Shortly after discharging home from the hospital, I realized that while recovering from brain surgery I would be spending a lot of time with my inner thoughts. At first it was not so bad, pain medication meant a lot of sleep and my pain was managed so for the most part I would consider myself to be comfortable. A few weeks later after following up with my neurosurgeon and being cleared from neurological care, it was just implied that I slowly start going back to “normal”.
At least that is what it felt like. I was a new mother to a nineteen-month-old and my previous life of a full-time working mom was fast paced and often stressful. Adapting to life after aneurysm clipping was not easy and it took time, patience, and the use of my mantras daily. With little guidance I found myself overwhelmed with attempting to get back to the “old me”. One year and nine months later I can tell you that there was and is no normal or “old me”. Progress is not linear, but with the help of my uplifting and optimistic phrases I felt a shift in my mindset a long time ago. Different mantras have helped me through different stages, and I continue to implement them into my healing journey.
When I applied mantras for the first time, I initially added a step to my meditation. I suddenly felt drawn to the phrase “grow positive thoughts” when practicing a guided meditation. I knew it was essential to my mental health while processing my world and what had happened, in addition to what was up This allowed me to open my mind and be more present with my intentions.
Four months after surgery when following up with an ophthalmologist it was confirmed that damage inflicted upon my optic nerve would be permanent and I was left with peripheral vision loss.
In a state of what I thought would be turmoil, I allowed myself to cry and be sad about the moment. I was devastated but I could not help but think I had made it that far with this new disability. I took the time to process this news but as I visited the emotions, I did not allow myself to live there.
From that moment I felt driven to learn. I learned so much of my own neurological history, facts about my surgical procedure, and pain management, and minor neurological deficits. The more I learned the more I felt compelled to share. One of my first realizations was that there did not seem to be lot of fundraising or research for aneurysms. Once I realized this, it became my intention to increase the amount of information and facts available to everyone. We should be teaching people to notice the signs as we do a stroke and to recognize symptoms, so we will request testing early like I did. Living with intention has saved my life. Yes, an MRI caught an image of a ballooned artery and an extremely talented surgeon repaired my aneurysm, discovered another during my operation clipped that one successfully as well -- but I feel so empowered by those words and how they have served me.
Those words got me through the hardest moments. Difficult times I never thought that I would endure or have the capacity to handle, but those words gave me strength. Repeating these phrases inspired a change in my mindset from fear to passion. I no longer compare myself to an old version of myself. I stand up for myself and advocated for things that I believe in. I set boundaries and rest when I need it, and I learned to not put to much pressure on myself.
Only two words. Those two words have grown into so many positive thoughts as I’ve included many more of my mantras onto Instagram posts which empower ending the stigma towards mental health conditions, encouraging neurodiversity, and urging love and compassion be spread for all. This is also a platform where I educate my friends and family on brain aneurysm facts and statistics. September is brain aneurysm awareness month and I look forward to making the month memorable with facts that could hopefully positively impact our future!
xoxo @live_intentionally2018Learn how to live intentionally through this blog post with author Emily.