How do you explain loneliness?
Many times in my life I have felt loneliness, through the loss of loved ones or through my acquired brain injury and the chronic condition of cluster headaches that came with it, which changed my life over the last 11years.
I went from being an entertainer, life and soul of the party, an extrovert, to shutting myself completely away from the world. Now I cannot even remember jokes or songs I once knew off by heart unless I read them on a screen, but even then, my stutter, word association and memory problems restrict me in which I used to love. I never answer the phone, unless it is those I know, for fear of my stutter.
My family, friends and past loves could not understand such a change in me, and I myself struggle to understand the change.
I always enjoyed being out–and–about every day with my camera, taking photographs of everything that caught my eye, but I felt my artistic flair had left me.
A brain injury leaves you stuck in your own strange world most of the time. Even worse is the condition of cluster headaches which leaves you feeling suicidal because of the extreme pain you experience with each cluster headache.
I tried to kill myself many times several years ago as it took a long time to be diagnosed with what I was suffering. Eventually I was diagnosed with having cluster headaches and I received every treatment going for this rare condition that I still suffer from daily. It still restricts me going out. I can cope inside with medication but the loneliness still gets to me at times. It is only in recent years, through the help of Brain Injury Matters and other support groups that I have started to mix with others again. Before this, except from seeing family and friends for a few hours a week, I was on my own, suffering from extreme pain.
Engaging in art, photography and creative writing projects at Brain Injury Matters has given me the opportunity to develop my artistic flair that I thought I had lost. I find this so rewarding, even though I am not very good at art, but the beauty of these classes is, you can express yourself any way you wish, abstract, modern art or whatever. My art might not mean anything to others, but to me it is beautiful in its own way and an achievement on my part, which I cherish.
The workshops bring people together who have experienced an acquired brain injury and already feel isolated and lonely. The weekly workshops are fun, supportive as well as having the opportunity of doing something creative.
In the photography project, we explored our own lives, past and present, which helped and inspired me to get back into my photography through the pain. I cannot walk too far, so my neighbor takes me to different places to take photos of landscapes, buildings, and wildlife. It’s great to have fresh air in my lungs, a little exercise, and to take some amazing and beautiful photographs.
I have been confined indoors for most of the last 11 years. In between the pain I have been trying to further myself creatively through my writing, I have written four guide books on the Spiritual Truth, blogging, tweeting and photography.
Getting out–and–about taking photographs without a doubt lifts my spirits and gives me a feeling of achievement and satisfaction. Yes, I might be going home to a lonely home again, but I will look forward to my next day or night out and this will give me the push to get out–and–about even if it is only for a few hours.
Kieran Stewart is a book author, editor, researcher, tweeter, blogger, poet, artist, photographer and publisher.