The Distracted Yogi – How I Reclaimed My BLISS After Brain Injury & Trauma by author Michelle Desgagne is a self-published memoir detailing Desgagne’s encounter with a brain injury. Written to help herself, her family and friends and in turn the reader and their circle of family and friends, The Distracted Yogi is as Desgagne introduces the book, “This book is the end result of monumental effort. Having a Traumatic Brain Injury changes everything; I do not look, act, speak and most obvious to me, don’t think like I used to prior to acquiring this condition. I wouldn’t have undertaken the task had I not believed completely that others could and would benefit from my story. I know this to be true because I’ve already heard this from so many others like me and like you. The Truth touches everyone.”
Desgagne’s life changed the day she was hit by a car while riding her bike, and she describes that shortly after she saw herself as distracted. And this distraction would become a dominating force in her life.
It was apt timing that this book made its way into my own life. I too suffered a traumatic brain injury and know all about that pervasive feeling of being amongst ‘The Walking Wounded’. When Desgagne describes family and friends seeing her outside appearance as “just fine”, it really rang a bell with me. I never considered what it would be like to not only survive the traumatic incident but what comes with the physical and mental recovery – that was until I was on the receiving end.
I suspected that the book may make for tough reading on a emotional level, and I was right. I only got to page 9 before I had to pause due to the tears streaming down my face. Like Desgagne I was a virile, tough, outgoing and always healthy individual before my accident. I excelled in sports my entire life, worked as a jail guard and even won an award in the military for my athletic ability, so I never once questioned my overall health and strength, but upon reading the ‘Goals Comparison Chart’ of before and after Desgagne’s accident I couldn’t help but reflect upon my own life. All her points were my points for recovery. You never think you would be facing a time when you cannot stand without falling over, or be unable to complete a simple sentence. But this is what those who suffer brain injuries must face and Desgagne really brought it home in a simple yet effective manner here.
Desgagne describes her trials and tribulations in the days, weeks and months post-injury in a refreshingly straightforward and unflinching manner. Yet Desgagne brings in her own sense of humour which becomes evident early on in the book.
But as hard as it was for us to deal with the ramifications of a brain injury, it can be just as hard and frustrating for our friends, coworkers and of course our loved ones. As Desgagne describes, “It’s natural to assume I suppose that if I look fine then I must be fine.” The attitude that if someone looks fine on the outside that they probably are is a tough one to overcome. And like Desgagne it was a prejudice that I also used to carry with me; so it’s hard to fault others for looking at the outside you and figuring you have recovered and everything is back to normal. This book will go a long way in helping those on the outside looking in to get a better grasp of what is going on in the inside.
“I had dreams that needed attention and goals to achieve; I had a life that was waiting for me and any day now, I’d thought then, I would wake up and be back; but nothing could be further from reality.
Michelle, the person I knew to be me, was gone forever, but I just didn’t believe it yet.”
Reading this book has helped me come to grips with some of the issues that I face every day. It’s calming and reassuring to know that the problems I face daily are shared by many others. Desgagne does a great job detailing her recovery period and all the ups and downs including her own ‘false starts’. We all want to recover quickly and get back to normal as per se, but it’s just not that easy unfortunately. Desgagne breaks this down elegantly with her own blow by blow of her recovery years.
Now that I have finished reading the book I’m left with an overwhelming feeling of comradery with Desgagne, as so much of what she has dealt with, is what I am dealing with. She did not let her situation bring her down and she has overcome her injury to the best of her ability through a grasp of understanding that “Until you re-connect with your new self, life will be scary and you will feel uncertain about most things, but just keep going because you will come back. Only this time, you’ll be new & improved and maybe even funnier than you were before. Above all else, do the work of getting well, because that’s always going to be your responsibility.”
I will be passing on the book to my wife as I really cannot think of a better way to help describe what is going on inside my head. Desgagne set out to write a book to help herself and others and in this I think she has succeeded. I do feel better for having read The Distracted Yogi – How I Reclaimed My BLISS After Brain Injury & Trauma and recommend it to others facing recovery from a traumatic brain injury/concussion/post-concussion situation.
You can find The Distracted Yogi – How I Reclaimed My BLISS After Brain Injury & Trauma on Amazon.com – www.amazon.com/The-Distracted-Yogi-Reclaimed-Brain-Injury/dp/1484953258/