About brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who had falls and car accidents and sports-related injuries in 1972, 1973, 1982-83, 1995, and most lately 2004. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications for 35 of my 43 years. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained that injury at age 8… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

Keeping focus when everything is GREAT

One of the more interesting challenges in my life, is keeping focused on what I’m doing, when everything is going great and I have a lot of energy.

That’s what I’m dealing with, these days.

I’ve made peace with my job situation, and I am getting ready to move on… I’m talking to companies about new jobs… and I am definitely NOT hanging around to make sure that everything I’ve been doing is going to be well taken care of when I go. Under the current scenario, those chances are slim to none, and making any effort to keep things going under the present scenario frankly just keeps me stuck in place.

It’s kind of like enabling management to keep doing the dysfunctional things they keep doing. Why should I limit myself in the face of their “poor” choices?

So, I’m moving on. I got a call about a potentially great job situation that’s closer to home and more along the lines of what I’m looking for.

I’m also working on complementary job skills that will help me move into other areas, when I am up to speed and feel confident of my abilities.

I’ve got tons of new and great ideas.

And that can be a problem.

Because when I get a lot of great energy, I tend to become more distracted. I bounce around from one idea to another, and that’s not good. I need to stay focused and do one thing at a time, not get all carried away and run after every good idea that comes along.

Because they all seem really great, at the time. But they’re not all THAT fantastic, when I look back.

So, these days I am really concentrating on staying focused on what’s in front of me, and making sure I don’t get pulled off in all kinds of different directions.

I can’t make progress, if I’m running in circles.

Onward.

Trying to stop me? Yeah, good luck with that :)

It seemed fine in the store…

So, a week and a half ago, I bought a new bed. I’d been sleeping in my old bed — the first real bed I actually bought, back during my first marriage. That old bed was very sturdy and it worked just fine… except for the lumps and valleys here and there. Where it wasn’t buckling and uneven, it gave me really good, comfortable support, so (like many other things in my life), I “worked around” the peaks and valleys, and found a combination that let me sleep.

My sleep was okay, I guess. I was just so used to the unevenness, that I trained myself to arrange my body for the most comfortable position(s). And since my spouse and I sleep in separate rooms (we have for over 5 years, and it was the best thing we’d done for each other in a long time), I could stretch out pretty much any way I chose.

Except that I couldn’t. Because the bed was so uneven.

Anyway, a week and a half ago, I bit the bullet and went out and bought a new bed. I got it at a reputable furniture place, where they had a whole “sleep science” section, complete with a computer that measured where your weight was distributed and then recommended a certain type of mattress for you. I knew what brand I wanted — Sealy Posturepedic — and I knew I did NOT want a pillow-top, because I feel like I’m being smothered, and I can’t move in them.

The salesperson who helped me was very keen on making sure I got the right mattress. I told them I can’t do a pillow-top, and I tried out a couple of options before I settled on a very firm one that had a foam top. I had my reservations about the foam, and I said so, but the salesperson reassured me that it was designed to support my back and keep it straight the whole night long. They said the way we sleep is all wrong, and our backs aren’t supported, so we develop back problems. Logically, it made sense to me. And the computer graphic made a very convincing point.

I had my reservations, but lying on the bed in the store, it felt pretty much okay. At least, I thought it did, under the circumstances. And the circumstances were not ideal to be making a big decision. I was tired from not having slept enough the night before, having gotten up early and driven around and run a bunch of errands all morning. The store was huge and overwhelming, the lighting made it hard for me to see, and there were a lot of people milling around. I was on overload, and I wasn’t handling the environment all that great.

But I had to get a bed. I had gone to the store to do so, and by God, I was going to do it. The mattress felt better than others I’d tried. Anyway, even if it did feel a little “off”, the salesperson told me the bed would “break in” over the course of a couple of weeks, before it started to feel like “my bed”. I would also need to rotate it, periodically, but I couldn’t flip it, because the foam was only on one side.

I just wanted to get out of there, really. And I figured I had to trust someone. So I took the salesperson’s word for it, and I shelled out about twice as much money as I was planning to. But I figured it was money well spent  — I know I need to get better sleep, so this was an investment in that quest.

You get what you pay for, right? That was my thinking, anyway.

The mattress was delivered before the week was out, and I was really happy to have a new bed. It felt kind of strange to see my original bed hauled away so unceremoniously, because I’ve probably spent more time with it, over the course of the past 25 years, than with any other person or thing in my life. It’s also done more for me, than 90% of the people (and things) I’ve had in my life. It seemed somehow… ungrateful… to just bag it up and haul it away to end up on a trash heap somewhere. But so it goes.

Once I had my new bed in place, with its new mattress protector and clean sheets and blankets in place, I was really excited. So, as I often do when I’m happy to be headed for bed, I jumped on top — and did not bounce. My landing was buffered by the foam top, which stopped my motion and absorbed the weight of my jump.

Huh.

I wasn’t used to that. I’m used to a bounce. I like the bounce.

I lay down and tried a number of different positions — side — back — other side — stomach — and it still felt weird. Okay, I thought, I have to break this thing in. It’s going to take a few weeks before it starts to feel normal.

So, I gave it time.

And more time.

And more time.

And the only thing that seems to have happened, is I’ve pressed yet another trough into my bed — but this time the trough is padded, and I can’t roll out of it, because the foam blocks me. I literally cannot move, when I’m down in the trough that’s been pressed into the foam for five hours by my motionless body. When I wake up at 3 a.m. in pain, I can’t just roll over and find a more comfortable position, because the foam has molded to my body shape, and instead of rolling across a gentle plain, I’m climbing mountains, trying to get out.

And my torso is lower than my legs. Which means my back is torqued. And if I roll on my side, my legs are angled up, higher than my body, which screws up my hips. And my neck and shoulders… don’t even get me started. The one saving grace is that I didn’t let the salesperson “measure” me for a new pillow. Please. Who does that? The lower and flatter and firmer my pillow is, the better. I’ve tried custom fitted ones, and they do not work for me.

Holy crap. Not only have I spent a buttload of money (“buttload” has nothing to do with your ass, by the way — A butt is actually a traditional unit of volume that is used for wines and other alcoholic beverages. A butt is defined to be 2 hogsheads, which in the US is 63 gallons. There- you’ve learned something new today) — but I spent all that money on something that’s even worse than the original that I replaced.

Okay, so maybe I could return the mattress. It’s been nearly two weeks, and I’ve figured out by now that I cannot handle this soft-top mattress. Like I told the salesperson, I can’t do pillow-tops, and the soft top makes me feel terrible. Even if it’s not a pillow-top, having that foam top on the mattress keeps me from moving around and getting more comfortable. In the case that I’m in pain — which is frequently — I need to readjust my position, so I can sleep.

I got my receipt and warranty information, but when I read about the return policy, it said there was a 7-day limit on returns. And I was on Day 10. Oh. That’s not good. From what I read in the paperwork, I was stuck with this bed. Like it or not. Comfortable or not.

It’s been screwing with my sleep in a very big way. First of all, I haven’t been sleeping through the night, every single night. When I sleep through, I’m fine. But when I wake up at 3 a.m. — like today — I can’t get comfortable. I cannot just roll over and go back to sleep. I cannot just roll over, period. Because I’m sunk down into the foam, and it’s not giving to make room for me.

Sh*t.

And then, on top of it, I start beating myself up, because I let that damn’ salesperson talk me into buying that bed, against my own better judgment. And I get upset because I spent so much money, and I don’t have the money to replace it. And I didn’t check the warranty soon enough, and I trusted a salesperson (of all people). Which all just keeps me awake. Even if I could get comfortable on the bed — which I can’t — my spinning head would keep me up.

Anyway, this morning after spinning my wheels for several hours, it occurred to me that maybe I could flip the mattress and put the foam side down. If it’s a hybrid mattress with springs on the inside and foam on the top, then maybe I could flip it over and sleep on the coil side.

So, at 5 a.m., that’s what I did. Pulled the blankets and sheets and mattress cover off it, and flipped it over on the box spring. And lo and behold, it seems to work. I might just have mattress I can sleep on. It’s firm like I need it, and it’s level. It also has a little bounce, and I can roll around on it and get comfortable like I need to. I’m not out all that money with no viable options, and I don’t have to send a nastygram to the salesperson to see if they’ll take it back… or list my mattress on Craigslist… or see if anyone I know wants it. I can keep what I bought. And if the surface gets a little too hard for me, I can find a pad to put down that won’t suck me into a trough that contorts me all out of whack.

This is good. I figured it out. I don’t have to suffer, I don’t have to make the best of it. I don’t have to go ballistic. I don’t have to beat myself up and come up with Plan B. I have options, and with a little creative thinking and flexibility, I’ll figure something out. I usually do.

And with that, it’s time to get on with my day.

Onward.

 

The foundation of TBI (or any?) recovery

I’ve been thinking about my next steps in my TBI recovery. Logistically, I have been pretty consumed with just keeping thing together on a day-to-day basis for the past 7 years.

So much that I really took for granted had gone away — jobs, money, credit score, friends, daily routines, level-headedness, technical skills, harmony in my marriage and so many other relationships… and the loss of those basic features of my life — my foundation — left me floudering.

So, I had to really focus on the basis for a number of years:

Finding a job that suited me and keeping it.

Developing good working relationships that doubled as “friendships” (because I didn’t have the time and energy, when all was said and done, to have more friends than that).

Getting my financial affairs in order, paying down massive amounts of debt, and not getting into any more trouble with spending.

It’s been a very rough seven years — especially the past four — but I’m out on the other side, with my debts settled, my mortgage current, my credit score pretty good — almost on the verge of being excellent — and a regular job under my belt to keep my bills paid.

And I am saving up for doing some long overdue repairs to one of the bathrooms. We can’t afford to do both, but the one needs to be done, so…

Anyway, the point of all this is, looking back and what I’ve accomplished, the main thing that has carried me through all these years, has been learning to keep an even keel and not get thrown by every little thing that comes along.

For somebody like me with TBI issues and a pretty volatile temper, this has not been easy. It has taken a huge amount of work, and learning to breathe and calm down my physical system has been the lion’s share of the task. But as I look at my life of the past years from a distance, I can see how just doing that — learning to keep my system stable and not (too) reactive — has made my recovery possible.

It’s very simple, really.

When I am worked up and bent out of shape, my brain does not function well. I have a harder time learning, I have a harder time thinking, and the connections I need to create in my brain to get me back on the good foot, are being made in all the wrong places — if they’re getting made at all.

But when I can stay calm and not get caught up in the storms of life, then my brain has the chance to make the right connections in the right way, and “re-learn” how it’s supposed to do things.

Of course, knowing this and doing it are two completely different things.

Yesterday morning, when my parents were here, I was starting to feel really down on myself, stupid, useless, and overwhelmed. Whenever I am around my parents, I feel that way, because both of them are very heady and intellectual, and in a lot of our conversations, I feel like I’m barely keeping up. They do try to be kind — nowadays… it wasn’t always the case — but I really feel stupid sometimes, when I am with them.

I started to cry because I felt so stupid and so bad. Broken. Displaced. Useless. But then I stopped myself from the downward spiral, and kept repeating to myself, “I am smart in other ways. I am smart in other ways.” I just kept telling myself that, over and over again, and before long, I wasn’t in that dark hole anymore, and I could think clearly again.

And I had another good couple of hours with them before they took off for home.

Being able to talk myself away from that edge, and getting my system calmed down, was the key. It usually is. And looking back on the past seven years, I can see how much it has cost me, when I was not keeping a good handle on my “internal state”.

So, there it is — the foundation of my recovery from TBI has been keeping in state of mind steady and learning how to not let things get hold of me and carry me away.

When I am stable and present and I am not being pushed about by every last wind, my brain has a chance to make good connections that give me a solid bedrock to build the rest of my life on. It takes time, of course, and there are times when I slide back and have to make up lost ground, but that’s how it is with everything. There is no such thing as a straight line in life, as well as brain injury recovery.

You just have to keep going. You just have to keep moving and learning, keeping a level head and not getting derailed by little things that come along.

Speaking of not getting derailed by little things that come along…. I’ve got to go off to work in a little bit, and I’ll be dealing with my boss again, who tends to be petty and divisive and plays all sorts of mind games. They’re not nearly as smart as they think they are, but I still have to keep my wits about me, when they are up to their tricks.

So, that being said, I’ll practice my steady breathing again today, hopefully get a break in the afternoon, and just keep keepin’ on.

Life is waiting. Onward.

 

Back from my 2-day reboot

Ahhhh… that’s more like it.

I just got up from a 2-hour Sunday afternoon nap, feeling like I’ve gotten the reset I’ve been needing.

My parents came to visit over the weekend, and we three really good days together. I took Friday off, and we hung out, roamed around my area, spent some time on Saturday with friends they’ve never met, who are more like extended family to my spouse and me, and made and ate good food.

I tend to really dread their visits, because there tends to be a lot of tension with my spouse, who doesn’t see eye to eye with them, politically or socially. This time there was some tension, but I spent a lot of time alone with my folks, while my spouse slept or did other things, so we didn’t have too much overlap.

And the times when there was tension, we managed to diffuse it pretty well.

Overall, I handled things pretty well. Both my spouse and my parents are very high maintenance, so I have to actively manage their activities. I have to manage my spouse, keep them relatively calm and not panicked, jump in and help them with different physical activities, and make sure they feel like they’re involved. And I have to manage my parents, because they have a tendency to pick up tools and start to cut and trim and “fix” things that don’t actually need fixing, which leaves more work for me to do later.

In the past, we’ve had a non-functioning bathroom faucet for several months, because my father decided to fix the drip without having a seat wrench.

Took me a few months to get the seat wrench — I kept forgetting to look for one — and then took me a little while to figure out how to properly use it and fix what my father broke. I felt pretty stupid wrangling with that simple tool, but there it is. What can I say? I’d never used a seat wrench before, let alone looked for one at the local hardware store.

My mother has a green thumb, and she loves to prune and dig and rearrange plantings, which is great, so long as she’s supervised. Once, she “went rogue” with a clipper and pretty much denuded one of my spouse’s favorite plants — one they’d been given for their birthday.

So much for the prized birthday present. That was a sore spot for months, because the plant in question was a centerpiece in our home and became a constant reminder of the havoc my mother can wreak, if left unattended with a clipping implement.

This time, I was “riding herd” on all three of them — parents and spouse — because my parents are starting to slip a little, mentally and physically, and my spouse has been increasingly unreasonable, hyper-sensitive and aggressive… and I didn’t feel like dealing with yet another Clash of the Titans, like we’ve had in prior years. In years gone by, they’ve practically come to blows.

And that blows.

But this time, we kept peace pretty well, and we left things on an up note, when all was said and done. My dad got to fix something that needed fixing. My mom got to plant some perennials we’ve been meaning to plant, and my spouse got to sleep almost as much as they wanted to, as well as spend some valuable time with our friends on Saturday.

Coming off the weekend, I’m feeling pretty good about the whole experience. My parents are utterly exhausting — they are go-go-go, non-stop, all the time. They’re like sharks. They never stop moving, and they can never sit still for longer than an hour. An hour is long for them. In the past, I’ve completely melted down with them, because of the constant activity, the constant movement, the frantic pace they keep up. It’s generally too much for me, and it sets off all my issues — irritability, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, sensitivity to touch, distractability, fatigue, anxiety… you name it, they set it off.

But this time I did well with them. I kept up. And when I felt like I was starting to wear thin, I stepped away for a little bit. I went to bed early. I took breaks from them all, now and then, and I was pretty good about watching what I was eating. I ate more than I should have, that’s for sure, but it was all healthy food, so that’s something.

Yes, that’s something.

At the end of it all, I’m feeling like I did a good job of handling myself and the challenges of the past three days. I had a lot of trepidation and anxiety about how I would handle things, because in the past things have been very tense, there have been a lot of fights and tension, and for days afterwards, my spouse would go on and on about the things that my parents did and said “to” them.

But we’re all slowing down, and none of us has the old intense edge we used to. My parents have pretty much “gotten” that they don’t have the answers to everything, and now their priority is on enjoying the time they have with the people they love. Their friends and peers are getting sick and dying. Members of our family are going through very hard times. And it’s like they finally got their heads screwed on straight with their priorities in life.

That’s a relief.

And my spouse has lost a lot of their hell-bent momentum, since they got really sick about seven years ago. They’ve also been declining, cognitively, so they’re less able to kick ass and take names like before.

Basically, everyone’s decline is working in my favor. I hate to say it, but it is.

And now, as I look back on the non-stop action of the past 2-1/2 days, I feel a great sense of relief and relaxation that my parents have returned home, and I can get back to my regular life.

Of course, “regular life” means going back to work to deal with all the bullsh*t at the office, the politics, the jockeying, and all the stupid-ass competition between co-workers (who should really be collaborating, except that they don’t seem mentally capable of doing that). Well, that’s tomorrow.

Right here, right now, I’m getting my act together, figuring things out, and pretty much settling into what’s left of my weekend. It’s been a good couple of days, it’s reset my priorities again, reminded me where I come from and where I want to be heading in my life, and it’s good.

It’s all good.

 

 

 

 

Allowing myself to feel tired

Feelin’ it…

So, yesterday I got an encouraging sign that I’m on the up-swing — I was tired all afternoon.

Why is this good?

I’ve been so stressed, for so long, that I can’t even feel tired anymore. I push myself and push myself and push myself, till I am completely done and cannot even move. But even then, I don’t actually feel tired. I just feel done. Baked. Useless.

And that’s a really terrible way to live.

It’s been a week, now, since I’ve been drinking my “rocket fuel” coffee — I take1-2 teaspoons of grass-fed butter, 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil, blend it all into a couple cups of coffee, and then drink it down. I try to drink it slowly, but my body and brain seem to crave it, so it usually gets drunk before it gets cool.

This stuff has been my saving grace all week. I’ve been adding butter and MCT oil to my coffee and tea during the day, too, and it hasn’t seemed to have hurt anything.

If anything, it is helping. A lot. And the energy I get is just phenomenal.

And when I have more energy, I am under less pressure to cram everything important into my mornings, because my afternoons are going to be a waste. When I have more energy, and I know I’m not going to run out later in the day, I can relax and just focus on the tasks at hand. I know that I can turn to my rocket-fuel coffee or tea later in the day, and get the boost I need to carry me through, so I’m not under all the crazy pressure I’ve been under for years.

Phenomenal.

What happens when I can relax? I think better. I plan better. I work better, overall. I learn better. And I can relax into a power nap in the afternoon when I need one. Or I can just relax for 20 minutes with my guided meditation, and leave it at that.

When I can relax, I can feel myself being tired, and I can let myself wind down at the end of the day. You know what I did last night? I went off to bed at 9:30. That’s a record for me. I hardly ever do that. I am hardly ever able to — I’m so wired from the day, my adrenaline is keeping me going. And going. And going.

Crazy madness.

But all yesterday afternoon, I was able to relax enough to realize just how tired I was. I was yawning all afternoon, which is rare for me. Even when I’m completely done, baked, fried, I can usually push myself through and not feel tired at all. But yesterday… I was very much aware of how tired I was, and how much I needed to sleep.

I was going to spend some time in the evening cleaning up in anticipation of company coming this weekend, but after I had my supper, I was so tired — and knew it — I just had to go to bed.

It took me about 30 minutes to settle down, but getting in bed at 10:00 and going right to sleep has been a rare occurrence for me, over the past 10-15 years. Could be I’m getting older, but the actual fact is that I’ve been too stressed out over work and everyday problems, to allow myself to feel tired, when I have been.

So, this is progress. I can actually allow myself to feel tired, now, and it’s pretty cool. The more energy I have, the less need there is for me to drive myself like a crazy person. The more energy I know I’ll have, the less need there is for me to cram everything possible into a few hours each day, because that’s the best I can expect for myself.

I know a lot of TBI survivors have to actually stop working regular jobs because of fatigue. I wish I had that option — I don’t. I’m the sold breadwinner for my family, and if I stop, we both end up on the street. So, I’ve had to keep going, no matter what. And it’s torn the living crap out of me.

Until now.

So, now I’m ready for my day. I did a slightly different version of my rocket fuel coffee and added some egg white to it, rather than taking the time and energy to fry up an egg. It wasn’t half bad. I know that butter and oil and eggs in coffee might not sound very good, but it was pretty tasty. And it gave me a much-needed boost, without taking forever to make up.

It’s all progress.

Onward.

An hour is about enough, either way

I’m working on my learning skills, these days, brushing up on things I need to know to be competitive in the workplace and move on to my next job. I’ve been working with some new approaches to old ways of doing things, and I’ve been poking around at a few other techniques I need to learn.

One of my big issues is time. I don’t have an unlimited amount of it, either in terms of available scheduled time, or available energy / attention time. I push myself pretty hard, so I can run out of steam and I end up reaching a state of diminishing returns… which then turns into a roiling, churning downward spiral of defeat and dejection, because I just can’t seem to muster my energy to learn and do anything else.

No matter how I try.

So, rather than demanding there to be four hours of unlimited time at my disposal, to work and practice and learn, I am breaking up my sessions into 45-60 minutes at a time, several times a day. I start out my days with an hour’s worth of reading and practice. Then while I’m driving to work, I think about what I’ve learned in the morning and rehearse the patterns and syntax that I need to use. If I can find the time I work on things a little bit at the office, just to refresh my memory a bit. On my way home from work, I think about things a little bit more — less than earlier, because I’m running out of steam. Then I work on things at home in the evening, mostly while I’ve got supper on – that usually takes about an hour to cook up.

So, this way, I can have 3-4 hours – and good hours, at that – of practice each day. Giving myself a short period of time to focus in really intently ensures that I will have the proper focus to really laser in. And doing it several times a day will give my brain the opportunity to train itself to see and think and do the way it needs to do.

This is how I learned how to code, 20 years ago, when I was working a “good job” that I hated. I studied on the train to and from my job, and that gave me the time I needed to learn — twice a day. I was extremely motivated, and I learned quickly that way. I also practiced on the weekends, too, and I put what I learned into action… so that I eventually found a new job in this new field that suited me. And it was good for 10 years of really nice paychecks and excellent experience.

And if I take things one little bit at a time, I can really master the individual pieces I need, and then put them all together as I go along.

And by the end of the day, I am really wiped out and ready to sleep.

So, this works out well all across the board.

And all the while, I’ve got my rocket fuel coffee and tea to keep me going. This stuff is seriously good. And the best part is, I get good energy from it, but it doesn’t keep me up at night. If anything, it eases off just about the time I’m really running out of energy and need to call it a day.

Ever since I’ve been drinking it, I’ve found it easier to get in bed before 11 p.m., which is a huge win for me.

Last night, I got about 7-1/2 hours of sleep. Up from 5-1/2 that I’d been getting earlier. Things started to turn around, when I got this extra boost from my butter-fat-charged coffee. (Make two cups off coffee, then take 2 teaspoons of Kerry Gold grass-fed butter and 2 teaspoons of coconut oil, blend them up with either a hand blender or an electric mixer until there’s a frothy foam on the top, then drink both cups of coffee – preferably slowly, because it can really give you a jolt, and some people actually get panic attacks from it – tho’ that’s more psychological than anything.)

Speaking of reading and learning and practicing, it’s time for me to focus in on my lessons for the day. I have about 45 minutes to do this.

So, onward. I have a feeling it’s going to be a pretty great day.

Rocket Fuel Coffee — It’s not for everyone

So, I shared my “rocket fuel” coffee with my spouse yesterday, and it did not go over well with them. That’s putting it mildly. In fact, they had a panic attack from the rush of energy — which was clearly more about them interpreting the rush of energy as “DANGER! DANGER!” than anything untoward in the coffee. A teaspoon of butter and a teaspoon of coconut oil… how much damage can it actually do?

I suppose for people who are sensitive to fats, it could be an issue – and I do need to be careful about how much fat I have in my diet – and there could be allergies to the butter and oil that cause issues. But even so.

My spouse’s response to the sensation of all that energy was so over the top — nearly spiraling into a full-blown panic attack — that it was pretty clearly psychological as much as physiological.

Eventually they calmed down and managed to make it through the evening without further incident. But they spent an awful lot of time fretting about their fears and “weird” sensations.

For those with a history of unresolved traumas, my butter-fat coffee “rocket fuel” recipe could be a big trigger. Especially if you associate having a lot of energy with “DANGER!! DANGER!!” I believe this is the #1 reason why people with a history of deep trauma gain weight, develop diabetes, and have a host of other sedentary lifestyle issues. They don’t exercise because the increase in energy and blood flow are associated with DANGER! of the deepest kind, and they do everything in their power to avoid having that sensation, instead of facing it head-on and overcoming it.

This is not a judgment. It’s an observation. I wish it weren’t so, but I’ve spent the last 25 years observing many people in my life with histories of deep trauma and abuse, and I see the same patterns over and over.

That issue — the unresolved trauma, and the running from the sensation of being preyed upon — seems the biggest healthcare issue of our day.

How the hell are you going to get healthy, if every cell in your body screams in terror and shuts down, when you start to feel your pulse rise and adrenaline start to flow? How will you ever get any exercise? How will you manage to extend yourself to get beyond your comfort zone and stretch your abilities?

How indeed?

Anyway, that little drama eventually subsided last night, and I am really very disappointed that my spouse can’t handle the butter-fat coffee. It gives me so much energy — and it’s the right kind of energy. It’s really what they have been wanting and jonesing for. They said so themself. Maybe they can have a little sip — start out more slowly and move up… I just get so tired of them running from every temporary inconvenience, for the sake of feeling “safe”.

Sometimes you have to work through a little temporary discomfort to reap the big prizes. That’s what my life has taught me, anyway.

But enough about them. As much as I want to help them, if I can’t… well, I can’t. I need to focus on my own progress, my own orientation, my own perspectives. That’s what I can influence. That’s what I can improve.

And so I am.

I’ve been working hard on my tech skills, learning new techniques and approaches, and realizing just how much better I am thinking, than I was just a year and a half ago. Back in late 2012, I had a technical screening interview, and not only was I not nearly as capable as I thought I was… but I also didn’t realize how much I still had to learn, and how far I still had to go. It was crazy, really — I was interviewing for jobs, thinking that I had my act together, when I was so far from being there, it was embarrassing. But I didn’t even realize it, until I was under the microscope… and a very humiliating microscope it was, too.

Now, I’m focusing on the basics — starting at the bottom and working my way up, and it’s going much better. The things I was studying 18 months ago are much more common sense to me, and I can understand complex concepts a whole lot more easily. I think it’s a combination of being more familiar with the concepts, and also having my brain working better.

My rocket fuel coffee is certainly helping, I can tell you that. I am much clearer than I have been in a long, long time, and I have more stamina and focus overall.

Aside from the coffee, it’s pretty amazing, how much progress I’ve made — mentally and behaviorally — in just 18 months. I’ve been feeling like I’m sluggish and falling behind, feeling like I’m never going to get ahead, and my desired future is so far out of reach, it’s not even worth it to think about moving forward. But now that I’m digging into the skills thing and focusing on that (rather than concentrating on how unhappy I am with my situation), I’m realizing that my brain is working better.

Things that used to baffle me, now make a lot of sense. And looking back on the code I wrote, years ago, I can see that I wasn’t nearly as good as I thought I was. And I can see that I’m actually better now. I can order my thoughts more clearly, I can manage the “flow” of appropriate or distracting thoughts in my head much better, and I can tell when I’m at an impasse and need to step away and try something completely different.

And looking back, I am really glad I did not make a move to another job in the past, because no way was I ready. I just didn’t have my act together, even though I was convinced that I did. Things broke down in the interviewing and screening process for a reason — I just wasn’t ready, yet.

I’m not sure I’m ready now… but I’m getting there. I still have a fair amount to learn. And the beauty part is, I actually am learning.

It’s pretty amazing, actually. The feeling of being able to read words again and make sense of them… the feeling of being able to type things up and try them out… the feeling of seeing things that I’ve written come to life on the screen in front of me… I haven’t felt this great and hopeful for years. And I feel like I’m back on the good foot after so, so long. Almost 20 years ago, I was in this position — tooling up my skills to get the hell out of a job situation that just did not suit me. Where I was, job-wise, was totally insane, and I knew I needed to get out. Just like right now.

There are so many similarities between where I was back, in 1995, and where I am now, it’s wild. Only this time I have more perspective and more experience, so I can make my move to a whole different level. A whole new level. I know the industry I’m in much better, and I have decades of experience behind me. The best part is, employers who pay good money are getting pretty sick and tired of slackers, and they’re looking for folks with good work ethics and years of experience.

Like me.

The beauty part is, I’m actually in a good position to do this — I have tweaked my daily routine so that I have a couple of hours to learn and experiment, first thing in the morning. And I have cut out so many distractions from my daily life, that I have time to spend on my skills. I have also discovered this rocket fuel approach, which I can also do with tea (so I’m not wrecking my sleeping patterns with drinking coffee after 2 p.m.). I put some grass-fed butter in my tea, melt and stir it in, and when I drink it, I get another huge boost of energy that doesn’t get me all wired — it just keeps me going.

And then I can get to sleep at a decent hour. Last night I was in bed at 10:30, which is huge progress for me. I could have even gone to bed earlier, if I had just given up on the logic problem that was stuck in my head. I was tired. I wasn’t wired from too much coffee late in the day. And I woke up today at 6 a.m., which means I got 7-1/2 hours of sleep — more than I’ve been getting, lately. I could have easily gotten 8 hours, I believe.

“Rocket fuel” tea might be my ideal solution for late-in-the-day energy crises. I can do this and keep myself supported AND not get myself so caffeinated that I can’t get to sleep at a decent hour.

But anyway, the day is waiting. I’ve got a full docket today, and it’s going to be quite busy.

I’ve found a happy medium, however, where I frankly don’t really care about all the stress and strain. I do the best I can, and I trust what I’ve done. I don’t stress over not being able to complete everything, because I know full well that the workload they have on us is humanly impossible — and they do it on purpose, to just see how far they can push us.

I feel a rant coming on, so I’ll step away from it and just get back to “my happy place” of not really caring, one way or the other, whether things turn out well for the company or not. They clearly don’t care about my well-being, so why should I care about theirs?

Self-protective indifference works… for the time being. Soon — in the not so distant future — I’ll be in a position where I can afford to care again.

But right now is not one of those times.

Right now is the time for me to take care of myself, brush up on my skills, and do what I need to do for myself.

Onward.

Knowing when to call it a day

I had a pretty long day, today. I’ve been wrangling with some logic problems I’ve been studying, and I’m not getting any closer to a solution (I think).

So, it’s time to pack it in, get some rest, and hopefully the answer will emerge in the next few days.

Bottom line is, if I’m tired, I’m not going to be thinking that well, anyway, so I might as well make the most of the opportunity and sleep.

Just sleep.

Tomorrow is another day.

TBI Recovery – Never mind the bullocks

When it comes to TBI recovery, good help is hard to find.

Doctors don’t know enough, and a lot of them aren’t aware that they don’t know enough.

Friends and family “just don’t get it”.

Co-workers and colleagues…? You’re probably better off not mentioning your situation to them.

You have to be your own advocate. You have to lobby for proper care.

This is extremely difficult for TBI survivors.

So, we have to help ourselves.

Fortunately, we live in a time when we have practically free access to a wide range of information. Even if you don’t own a computer, if you have access to one at a local library, you can get online for free and do some Googling.

Of course, there are downsides to this – namely, the sheer volume of information, and the fact that not all info can be trusted.

But you can’t let that stop you. If you want the truth, you need to go out and get it. Nobody is going to find it for you. That’s one of the big lessons of TBI – you tend to be pretty much on your own.

Of course, there are upsides to this – namely, not having to explain yourself to a clueless advocate… being free to make up your own mind about things… and being able to move at the pace you want to move at.

The important thing is that you just keep moving. Never mind the bullocks, never mind the setbacks. You just have to pick yourself back up and get going again.

 

 

Treatment that changed TBI symptoms Part 1

brokenbrilliant:

Low energy? Feeling drained after TBI/Concussion? It might be your endocrine system. This is a great article that could help relieve a lot of suffering.

Originally posted on braininjuryselfrehabilitation:

Who would ever think after nearly two decades … precisely 18 1/2 years one would get their life back?  Was it answer to prayer?  Was it prayer that kept one alive?  With certainty, it was both. This treatment and diagnosis is common to traumatic brain injury. Sadly, most do not know about it.  I did not know about it. Many TBI patients, families and even healthcare professionals do not know it.

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