Should someone experiencing aphasia set their sights on moving forward or backward? Should they continue forward, working towards a new self, or aim their way backward, trying to return to life before aphasia?

This is the question Lauren Marks asks in her new book, A Stitch of Time.

Looking Backward

Lauren’s speech therapist gently informs her on page 99 that her life won’t be exactly as it was before, even with therapy. Lauren thinks about this statement and writes, “Like most people I’d interacted with since the stroke, Alicia was assuming I wanted my life to look the same way.”

Yet Lauren admits: “I wasn’t trying to get back to the life before.” Yes, things had changed, but Lauren didn’t see that as a bad thing; something to be erased. Instead, she wants to move forward towards a new normal. She doesn’t want communication issues, but she also doesn’t want to erase everything she learned after her aneurysm.

Moving Forward

One large reason that Lauren wants to move forward and not backward is her lack of fears described on page 102. The lack of words constantly moving across her brain means a lack of anxiety in some regards. She explains:

My self-directed speech was starting to resurface. I had enough language to view, analyze, and describe myself differently. Where there had once been vacancy, there was now clutter.

That clutter meant that instead of ideas simply existing, they were now tied to positive and negative associations. Death, for example, was something neutral when she didn’t have words to think about it. But later, as language returns, she writes on page 102:

The mainly negative thoughts (or at least the ones that were represented in language) that were related to death and dying in my mind just weren’t as present to me at all. It’s interesting that my first moments of nagging fear were not when I was facing a lack of language, but when I began to regain it.

Moving forward means not returning to the same pulse of anxiety about the unknown or engaging in negative self-reflection. It’s taking the calm that existed before words told her how to feel about things.

Are you in agreement with Lauren? Are you seeking the same life that you had before aphasia, or a different, new life?

Image: Nicolas Nova via Flickr via Creative Commons license