I Felt a Cleaving in My Mind

Brain Injury Blog

I Felt a Cleaving in My Mind

by Ginger Bristow Gaitor

The worst experience in my personal health, one that has been ongoing is living with migraines. I had encephalitis 20 years ago, and it left me with symptoms of stroke, that took about a year to heal.  But the migraines continue.

However, brain injury and the loss of those very precious memories and thoughts, one after the other, is hard. I find myself saying to Bill, “Don’t you remember, we talked about this last night?” Then I remind myself not to use that phrase because he cannot remember.  His memory for many things has and continues to improve over the years. But I think the sadness of working so hard, and not seeing the results he is working toward is very difficult for him and others living with brain injury.

But he gets stronger, her perseveres, and moves forward.  I happened upon another one of Emily Dickinson’s poems on the brain.  There has been much discussion on what illnesses the poet lived with, but Bright’s disease is definitely one that caused her great sensitivity to light, as migraines do.

The poem also feels very relevant to living with brain injury, and I thought I would like to share it with you. And if you want an easier picture of what it is like, watch the movie “50 First Dates” with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. It is sadly very accurate. I try to understand what it must be like for Bill, but I do not walk in his shoes. Support and empathy are all I have to offer.

I felt a Cleaving in my Mind

by Emily Dickinson

I felt a Cleaving in my Mind —
As if my Brain had split —
I tried to match it — Seam by Seam —
But could not make it fit.

The thought behind, I strove to join
Unto the thought before —
But Sequence ravelled out of Sound
Like Balls — upon a Floor.

August 7, 2012

2 responses to “I Felt a Cleaving in My Mind”

  1. Lenore Riegel says:

    Ginger, I am so sorry to hear about your migraines. You are so right, Emily understood the complexity and magic of the brain, and its challenges. You are so strong – not only to overcome migraines but to use them to understand what Bill is going through and care for him all the more. So glad you are able to join your thoughts and share them with us.

  2. Janet Cromer says:

    Hi Ginger,
    What a perfect description: a Cleaving in my Mind.” Even better than some clinical descriptions. And your support and empathy for Bill are a tremendous offering.

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