Do-Over Alert – How do I want to remember this time?

Ouch – that stings

I think I found a new way to get a grip. I’ve written a bunch of times about how I’ve lost it over little things — dropping a spoon while I’m making my morning coffee, not being able to hold something firmly in hand, getting stuck in traffic, navigating tough situations at work, arguing with my spouse and having the argument spiral wildly out of control and escalate to the point of madness…and more.

It’s been an ongoing struggle for me, and it’s cost me plenty, to lose my grip and be reduced to an adrenaline-soaked pile of skin ‘n’ bones, shaking and sick to my stomach and regretting what I did or said for hours… days… weeks… sometimes years. Regret is a usual and customary part of my life.

In some ways, it’s the glue for my past. If I didn’t have regrets, and all the strong feelings that go along with them, I’m sure my perception of my life and my past would be very different from what it is right now. In some ways, I’m not sure my memory of my past would be as clear — the emotion of regret has pretty much locked some experiences in my memory for all time. Take away the regret, and you take away a big part of how I recollect my past.

Some folks say, “I have no regrets – I would do it all again the same way.”

These folks have no imagination.

I can think of a million different things I would do differently, if I had them to do all over again. And I can think of a million different outcomes that I wish had happened, versus what actually did. It’s not that I’m being hard on myself, it’s just that I see and recognize my limitations, and I am very clear about those instances where things did not go the way I wanted them to, because I “lost it”, sometimes for no apparent reason.

Do I wish I had not flipped out at my boss, back in 2005, and given him a piece of my TBI-addled mind? You betcha.

Do I wish I had not harangued and browbeaten and hassled my spouse, till they finally broke and threatened to divorce me — not once, but many, many times in the course of the past years? You’d better believe it.

Do I wish I had not gotten into those fights with the neighbor kids that got me in trouble with adults and other kids — who were older and bigger and meaner than little ole obnoxious me… and outnumbered me on top of it? How could I not?

Do I regret flying into road rage over nothing, really, and chasing people down a highway or side street to “show them”, several times, just a few months back? Absolutely.

My past is littered with poor decisions, as well as good decisions I couldn’t make good on, because of some stupid-ass impulse control issue or some idea that felt great at the time, but was a really dumb one, once I thought about it with a clear head. My life has been punctuated by overly emotional outbursts where my frustration and confusion got the best of me and turned me into someone I did not recognize. My memory is spotty to begin with, and the pieces I actually do have in place are anything but uniformly good.

So yeah, regret.

If only….

A lot of people tell me that regret is a “bad” thing to feel. They say it’s negative and it holds me back from really enjoying my life. They say the same thing about shame, but in all honesty I have a lot less problem with shame than with regret. I’ve heard shame defined as a humiliating sense that you should have done better, or somesuch. And then there’s guilt, where you make things that sucked into things that were your fault — as though you had so much control over those things to begin with. Shame isn’t such a big deal for me — sure, I usually have the sense that I should have done better, but it’s not that humiliating. It’s just a little embarrassing. Guilt isn’t such a huge deal for me, either, because things that suck are often just not my fault, and I often have the very clear sense that I have no control over what happened or what resulted from it.

But regret? Yeah, there’s no lack of that with me.

But does it hold me back? Sometimes it does, but it doesn’t always have to. In fact, regret is probably one of the things that holds my life together. It might sound strange, but think about it — it’s a powerful emotion, and it’s always lurking right around the corner in my mind. I am keenly aware of all the things I’ve screwed up and how I wish I had done them differently. And that makes me even more keen to figure out how to NOT screw things up the next time.

See, that’s an important part of my recovery — being able to assess the outcomes of my behavior, see where I’ve screwed up, and then make an extra effort to get it right the next time. There is usually a next time, and when I’m using my head, I can make the most of new opportunities when they arise. It hasn’t always been easy, and I’ve often been humbled (and humiliated) by circumstances. But it’s paid off. Regret has served me well.

I’m currently having a new opportunity to re-do things that I’ve screwed up in the past. This is a big-time do-over, and I really want to make the most of it.

Basically, I have discovered that a very close relative of mine really screwed me over a couple of years ago. I won’t go into the details, because it’s complicated, but basically it’s about them pushing me out of the way (behind my back) and trying to cut me out of the family, because they believed I was “damaged goods” and I was a hindrance and a waste of time to my family. Things have been pretty touch-and-go with my family, over the years, and I’ve worked really hard to make up for the things I messed up — and I thought I was doing pretty well, a couple of years ago.

Now I find out (through old correspondence and writings) that there were some serious “operations” going on to push me out of the family, string me along on the surface, but keep me clueless about what was really going on. I come to find out that there were all kinds activities my family members were doing with each other over the space of a couple years — they had a great time and really enjoyed themselves, and never said a word to me. In fact, they hid it from me and pretended it never even happened. I thought something was up, a few years back, and I asked about it, but everyone flatly denied that anything was going on that I didn’t know about.

Two individuals, in particular, were driving the whole thing, and they kept me in the dark while organizing activities and having a grand time… while I was working my ass off at work, just trying to make ends meet, and generally struggling with so much on a daily basis without any real moral support.

Funny, I thought people were more distant than usual.

Now it turns out, I was not only right about something going on, but I vastly underestimated the extent to which I was cut out of things. There was even talk of some large-scale activities which involved people very close to me, to whom I have turned for support many times. Basically, they were going to ditch me and go traveling, see sights, do lots of different things… a full roster of family activities, to which I would not be invited. In the stuff I read, I was dismissed as an impediment to their fun, with talk about how so-and-so “handled” me and “talked me down” when I was upset. Like I was some kind of mentally deficient village idiot they just couldn’t be bothered with.

God, cut me, why don’tcha… When I read this stuff over the weekend, it really threw me for a loop. There was this whole other world that people very close to me were developing, and not only was I not invited, but I was un-invited, deliberately pushed to the side, like I was some kind of human flotsam. Dismissed. Disposed of. Like I didn’t matter, and they couldn’t be bothered. I had been feeling bad about feeling a bit pushed to the side, but I didn’t want to make that big of a deal out of it before. Now I realize that it was a much bigger issue than I ever imagined, and in addition to feeling hurt and betrayed, I also feel like a complete idiot for not realizing what was going on, and basically fulfilling their expectations that I was a clueless, brain-damaged idiot who would never know the difference.

And that stings.

Yesterday was a pretty rough day for me. It was like Day One of the new world… and I had a hundred different ideas about how to confront people and let them know that I KNEW what they had done, and although I never pressed the issue before, I still knew that something was going on. I’m not that damaged. I wanted them to know that I had a lot more details now, than they ever thought I would…  and I wanted to take ‘em all down. Cut them out of my life. Just dispose of them, the way they’d tried to dispose of me.

The only thing is, they’re my family. And when I really thought about it yesterday, I realized that over the past six months, they’ve been trying to do better with me. I think the guilt just got to them. And shame. The realization that what they were doing was really pretty shitty must have sunk in, and they decided to change their ways. They’ve been trying — noticeably — for the past six months or so, to make room for me and include me in things.

And now the question comes down to this — do I let myself fly off the handle with them, confront them, and try to punish them, for what they did before… or do I let it go and allow them to make amends for their callous unkindness? They really seem to be trying, and they seem to have had a real change of heart, and I don’t want to screw that up. It might make me feel better to confront them and make them “pay for what they did to me”, but in the long run, how will that help? I know what they did. They know what they did. Who knows why they did it, and who knows — maybe it was just one bad idea that someone had once, which then took on a life if its own… and then they all got carried away in the heat of the moment and continued to make those unkind decisions just ’cause it seemed like the thing to do.

I will never know that. Nor will I ever know what changed their minds about things and caused the change of heart.

All I know is this — years from now, when I look back on this time, I don’t want to remember flying off the handle and going off the deep end, doing my “scorched earth” meltdown freak-out thing with people who are my family and my main support. I don’t want to think back on this time as one when I lost it, when I trashed the attempts to make things right, out of my hurt and pain and insecurity and need to make others hurt the way I am hurting right now.

No doubt about it, this is very painful. It’s been excruciating. To be so dismissed and so marginalized and just pushed aside like a piece of trash… it just reminds me of all the other times in my life when that was done to me, and it just feels terrible. But even more terrible would be to let that pain and hurt take over my life and proceed to cause more pain and hurt in the lives of others.

That’s the kind of memory I don’t want to make. That’s the kind of experience I don’t want to have. Because no matter how justified I am in my hunger for revenge and vindication, no matter how much right I have to eye-for-eye justice, the long-term fallout of that kind of thinking and behavior is much worse than the original cause for it. It’s bad enough that I was deceived for over a year about things that mattered so much to me. It’s bad enough that the people I trusted most turned against me and made fun of me and treated me like just some tool. But if I let loose with a rampage, then any recovery from that is going to be delayed — for a lot longer than a few years. And knowing me, when I get going, I say and do things that can never be taken back. And if I let myself get to that place of uninhibited attack, I can do more damage than I intend to.

I should know. My past is littered with experiences like that.

And I don’t want to do it again.

So, I’m just letting it go. I have to. I am overworked and over-tired, and if I indulge my outrage, I’m going to be even more overworked and fatigued as I try to clean things up on my side. I’m doing my best to turn my attention to more positive things and focus on the good stuff in my life, not dwell on the bad. I know what it’s like to have a bad idea and then let it spring into life and let it get out of hand. I know what it’s like to not be able to stop myself from doing and saying those things and hurt someone I care deeply about. I know what it’s like to be human, and that’s what happened with my family — they just got really human, a couple of years ago.

And now they’re trying to make it up to me.

They’re being really nice to me. Considerate. Caring, actually. More than ever. I’m not going to push that aside, I’m going to let them do it, regardless of the reason. The past is the past, and while it hurts like hell to find out the inside story, it’s still the past. And I have a present and a future I need to take care of.

I can’t let the bad decisions and behavior of others dictate my own behavior and state of mind. I’ve let that happen in the past, and this time I have a chance to do it over — do it differently. I have a lot of really great prospects ahead of me, and if I let this revelation get the best of me, then I lose out. And I don’t want to do that. I have been through some pretty tough things, but this is one of the toughest… and when I look back on this time, I want to look back with pride that I handled myself well, that I dealt with everything as a sovereign adult, and that I chose to rise above it and not wallow in petty hurt and pain, which only serve to make me unhappy and unhealthy in so many ways.

Life can really suck, sometimes. Pain happens. Betrayal happens. So does deceit and scheming and all kinds of sick little games. Freak-outs happen, too. As do meltdowns and breakups. But in the midst of this upheaval, I’ve got a new chance to handle the old shit in a new way. And I will. Because when I look back, years from now, I want my memory of this time to be full of pride, not only pain. I don’t want to have this be the kind of thing I regret and carry around with me as yet another example of how I can’t keep my act together. I want the moment to belong to me, not to others who tried — once upon a time — to ditch me and treat me like I was nothing.

They’re trying to make it up to me. They’re still not admitting anything, and they’re still hiding what went on, but at least they’re trying to make it up to me. And that’s a positive change for the better.

Life is waiting, and it has a lot in store — lots of it very good stuff indeed.

Onward.

What else…?

A new day is dawning – what else is possible?

Time has really gotten away from me, this morning. I was up early with my spouse – who was up late (really late) – and we got to talking, which is good. I have a doctor’s appointment in another hour and a half, and I need to get ready to go. And here I thought I had at least another hour. Funny, how the time flies when I go online.

Anyway, it’s 12/21/12 – the big day, according to a lot of folks. Some go on and on about the end of the world, but what I’ve heard from more folks is that it’s actually the beginning of the next one. A new world. A new start. Not right away – for what really changes in an instant, if it’s truly going to last? But starting now, moving gradually towards What’s Next.

Now, I am pretty much of an agnostic, when it comes to this sort of stuff. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. Who the heck knows? But it is a way I like to think about things. And even if there’s nothing special about this day, other than it’s the marker of when the days start to get longer (and people Up North get closer to seeing some sunlight again), and that we have attached certain numbers to it, I can certainly choose to do with it what I like.

Just like I can every single day.

If I want numbers to inspire me, I can look at the clock — I can decide at 12:12 or 12:21, each and every day, to start fresh – hit the proverbial reset button. Or I can set my alarm for 3:33 each afternoon and treat that as a “reset”. Probably not a bad idea, since my daily clock seems to wind down around 12 noon each day, and then pick up each afternoon around 3:30 or so.

Numbers… Yeah, numbers. I have always played games with them, and I find them fascinating. When I’m driving long distances and I get tired, I play games with the numbered mile markers beside the highway, and that perks me up right away. Whatever does it for you to make your day a little more interesting, a little less stressed, a little more enjoyable… well, that’s alright by me.

And whatever it takes to get our heads out of a terrible space, is fine with me — provided it’s not killing brain cells or doing harm to others (which a lot of people find enjoyable, sadly). My argument about all the Doomsday stuff is that We Just Don’t Know. We can think we know, we can suppose to know, but doomsday-sayers have been in that business for as long as humans have walked the earth. And magically, we’re still here.

The only impact they seem to have is making us feel like crap, while we’re waiting for something that isn’t going to happen.

Now, I’m not going to get into a theological debate over this — I’m just saying that for all the people who have staked their reputations on THE END being just around the corner, how many of them do you remember? Few, if any. Because when they’re proven wrong, as they so often are, they just fade from view — and go back to their work doing whatever they were doing before. And all we’re left with is a bad taste in our mouths and a little more stress to drag us down.

So, on this momentous day, when certain people are celebrating the end of the old and the beginning of the new, I look to the day myself, and I wonder what else I can do that will improve my life and the lives of those around me. Whatever the date, whatever the occasion, it’s a good thing to do in any case. I think about the ways I can turn things around that I’m not happy about… including my doctor’s impression of me as a “risk taker” that I am very uncomfortable with. I shall be having a conversation with them in another couple of hours, and I’m writing it all down ahead of time, so I don’t lose my train of thought. I can turn things around at work by really focusing on what’s in front of me, not getting distracted, and doing a better job of following up. I can improve my experience overall, by improving the skills that make me feel like the person I really am with the capabilities I really have. And I can find other like-minded individuals who are seeking to make the same kinds of positive changes — both personally and on the larger social and cultural stage.

For some reason, this time really feels like a turning point for me. I feel pretty energized by the possibilities… and the thing that makes me feel even more energized, is hearing so many people talk about new beginnings, where a week or so ago, they were talking about drudgery and sadness and misfortune and all that. People are stepping up to take more responsibility for their lives and their situations, and that’s really exciting for me. Because I’ve always known it was possible — and now with this “new era” dawning, more people are starting to agree with me.

I guess that’s the thing that excites me the most about this Winter Solstice — that other people are realizing the same thing I’ve know for many, many years: that anything is possible, if we put our minds and hearts to it, and we don’t accept the same-old-same-old as a given.

Truly, it is a new day. And I’m so happy others are seeing it, too. :)

Healing happens

Food matters – image from crackberry.com

And there we have it — what we eat becomes what we are. And too many of us are not eating the right foods. What’s more, a lot of us who need more and better nutrition than others (athletes, for example) are drinking things like Gatorade, which has a bunch of stuff that’s actually neurotoxic, as well as processed foods that are full of sugar and chemicals that just get in the way of our bodies’ natural ability to heal and repair itself.

Personally, I’ve experienced really dramatic changes in my health and outlook and psychology when I’ve changed my diet and cleaned up my act. It’s remarkable what a difference a “real meal” will do for you — grass-fed beef, fresh green beans, corn in season, maybe a side salad, and something chocolate or non-dairy for dessert. Especially when you’re the one who cooked it.

And you know what’s in it. Because you prepared it yourself. (I won’t get into the whole GMO discussion here, because that’s a bigger and more depressing subject than I care to cover at this point).

Anyway, food. Yeah. And exercise. I went to bed sore and I woke up sore this morning from pushing myself pretty hard in my workout yesterday. What a difference a good workout makes. I’m being smarter about it than in the past, taking a day between each pushing-hard session to give my body a chance to recover. I definitely over-trained before, and it took it out of me. No more. Now it’s better.

And living. Yesterday I went for a walk in the rain, and it was amazing. The fall colors, the feel of the rain, the colors in the rain, and the feel of being out when everyone else was inside… I pretty much had the place to myself on my walk — except for one hardy soul who was out running… kindred spirit. We both recognized each other — not personally, but by nature. There’s nothing like stepping away from the everyday to find your tribe.

And I realize that if there’s anything that’s really helped me heal and get my life back in order, it’s been doing just that — stepping away from the everyday and finding my tribe… finding the people who are on the same wavelength as me, who have the same priorities, who have the same kinds of quirks and things that remind them, they are just a bit different from the status quo. I think most people have those quirks and things, but the big difference is in who follows through on living their quirks to the fullest.

And that heals, you know? Even when your life has become something completely different from what you remember and recognize and expect. Even when your abilities have changed, your personality has altered, and you don’t recognize yourself anymore. Just being this new person, living this new life, and doing it to the best of your ability is going to give you the needed practice to get to a place where you finally do recognize yourself, you can find yourself in the midst of all the newness, and you can both find others like the new you — and let them find you.

But that’s not going to happen until you push yourself to be and do and experience and just accept it all as the kind of stuff that just happens sometimes.

All this being said (and assuming that folks are reading this far into the post), I want to reiterate something I’ve mentioned several times in the past, but which is – to me – so very critical and crucial in terms of concussion/TBI response:

Shit happens. Concussion happens. TBI happens. And it can have long-term consequences. But we can heal. We can — and should — put our attention not only on prevention, but also responsible response and follow-up to mild traumatic brain injuries. It’s not enough to know it’s a terrible thing. It’s not enough to pass laws and develop new helmets and protocols. It’s not enough to have a computer tell you if something is wrong. At some point, we have to start living our lives — and live them to the fullest, NOT get stuck in the drama that comes in the aftermath. At some point, we’ve got to get down to the business of living our lives to the best of our abilities — which is actually a potent healing practice in itself.

Yes, there is a specter of long-term consequences that hangs over us. CTE. Alzheimers. Dementia. Scary stuff. But that specter should not keep us from living to our fullest in this moment. There’s no guarantee that any of us will live long enough to develop degenerative neurological conditions, anyway. We can’t just sit in the shadows, holding our heads, feeling sorry and depressed and victimized. Sometimes you just have to get up and go out into the world and see what happens.

It won’t always work, and for some it could be a lost cause. But why not at least give it a go?

Now, enough of this blog stuff — let’s get back to the business of life.

Onward…

A whole new life, a whole new species

Keep moving… you cannot help but change

I’ve been having some interesting times, lately – and not in the sense of the Chinese curse about “living in interesting times”. I seem to have turned a corner of sorts, seemingly out of the blue… it’s like things have just focused for me and centered, and even though I don’t know the specifics of what I’m going to be doing about specific things, I have this certainty that things are going to roll out the way they should, and I will find a way to roll with them.

The vacation I took had a lot to do with it, as did the insane 3-4 weeks leading up to it. For about a month, I was all-out, just flat-out working-working-working, without distraction, without confusion. That focus came from a sort of iffy place — basically, I knew I was screwed. That much was plain. The work that I’d been doing for the past year came under a huge amount of scrutiny at work, and people decided it wasn’t what they wanted — even though they didn’t bother asking me about the specifics, they loaded me up with a ton of other work, and they just sort of shoved it all off on me like it was a pain and a hindrance. For two years, they don’t pay any attention to me, don’t listen when I give them updates, and they just dismiss this part of the equation… until suddenly it matters.

And it’s not what they wanted.

And they end up looking bad.

And it’s all my fault.

Hm. Okay, then, time to move. Time to groove. Time to hustle… right on out of there.

And I realize now that a big part of my stress has been the dynamics at work, where the boss is weak, the boss’es boss is weak, the uber-boss is a disorganized, impulsive, attention-deficient bully who’s also a bit psycho — and aggressive to boot… and all the while, the people who are running the show are actually thousands of miles away in a different time zone and a different world entirely. If sh*t rolls downhill, I ended up rolling around in it like a stressed-out pig. And everything I did to try to turn things around with my direct line of command just didn’t work out. On top of it, the people my boss reports to don’t really like me very much. They wouldn’t. They’re most comfortable with 20-somethings who don’t know enough to call them on their games. And that’s just not me.

So, while I was working my ass off before vacation, shoving everything off my plate except for those three massive projects that just had to get done, I had plenty of time to shake it off and just focus on the work at hand. I had plenty of time to get used to the idea that no matter what I did, no matter how hard I worked, no matter how much effort I put into my job, the fact that people above me don’t like me and aren’t comfortable around me is a bit of a gating factor — so long as I let it be, that is.

And it occurred to me that part of what was making me nuts and cutting into my happiness with my work and my focus and my energy levels, was my mindset that I was ever going to be able to get those folks to like me, to be able to sit comfortably in a room with me and have a conversation with me, to see the value and the reasons behind what I do… that they were ever going to appreciate and see eye-to-eye with me. It just wasn’t going to happen. And I was wasting a whole lot of time chasing something that was never going to be attainable… like I was crawling across the desert towards an “oasis” that turned out to be a mirage.

“Screw it,” I decided. I realized that I lost all respect for the people I report to, a long time ago. Nice people, but weak… poseurs. And pandering. And a little bit dangerous that way. They’ll say what ever they need to say to get along with their higher-ups and damn the truth of the matter. These kinds of people not only make life hard for their co-workers, but also for their bosses by not telling them the whole truth and actually fixing sh*t instead of covering it up and putting lipstick on the pig. All I wanted to do was get the job done and get it done right. I wasn’t bending over backwards to make anybody happy, I wasn’t going out of my way to soften things and paint them in the right shades of mauve. Screw it. I was just going to get the job done, and never mind what everybody had to say about it.

That freed up a lot of energy, actually. And I felt a whole lot better when I just let that sh*t go.

Then I went on vacation. I didn’t check my email, I didn’t pay any attention to work, I didn’t do squat that had anything to do with the workplace. I took time to myself. And I let it go. I just f*cking let it go. All that drama would be there when I got back. What was the point in getting all worked up over everything? No point at all, especially considering that I wasn’t going to “win” with these losers, anyway. So, I had a vacation. For the first time in years. And I came back feeling human and ready to rumble again — on my terms.

And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing — rumbling on my terms. And it’s been great. Seriously. My performance has been great. I have gotten so much done, and I’ve turned so much around in the space of a couple of weeks, my head’s spinning. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, but I’m doing it. One step at a time. One day at a time. One task at a time. I am getting into a great routine, a great roll — exercising again, but in a smart way… taking time away from my desk to decompress and then come back in to the thick of things… making up for lost time… and getting sharper all the time.

How could I not? I’m moving. I’m taking time out to think and to get square away. I’m living. And living to the best of my ability has turned out to be incredibly positive, incredibly helpful, incredibly healing on a number of different levels. I can definitely tell that my thought processes are not as fluid as they were before my last TBI, but by God, I’ve got something else in place that is working – and it’s working better every day that I practice it.

See, that’s the thing – the practice. It . is . so . important. Hands down, it is the one thing that has turned my life around — practice, practice, and more practice. Getting a goal in mind, blocking everything else out, going after that goal over-and-over-and-over-again, till I have reached it. Not giving up. Not quitting. Not accepting temporary setbacks as a sign of true failure. So long as I just keep at it, there can be no failure. Because I’m not done yet. There’s a line from the trailer of the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”  where someone says “Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end.”

That’s pretty much where I am, these days. Keeping on keeping on, till I get where I’m going.

And that’s a relatively new thing for me. One of the things that this TBI business has taught me, is how to stick with something, even when I appear to fail along the way. When I was a kid growing up, people gave up on me all the time. If I didn’t perform up to their standards or expectations right out of the gate, that was it. I was done. I was fortunate to have some native intelligence that let me quickly figure some things out — and also mimic others who were doing what they were doing — so I could at least pass some of their tests. But when it came to temporary setbacks, people would get very frustrated with me and wouldn’t work with me to figure things out. They just gave up on me because my performance was so erratic (and they thought it was because I wasn’t trying hard enough), and I never had anyone really talk things through with me and work it through.

Throughout my life, I’ve had a lot of experiences where I’ve been able to figure some things out pretty quickly and also mimic the performance of others who had things “down”, and get by pretty well in most things. I reached a certain level of proficiency, and things were looking pretty damn’ good. I had stock options in a very big corporation where I worked, and I was about 18 months away from being able to cash out, pay off my house, get out of debt, and really free myself up in general.

Then I fell and smashed my head on some stairs, and everything got scrambled. All of a sudden, things stopped making sense to me. And over the next six months, they just fell apart. Just . fell . apart.

And it seemed like it was going to be that way forever. The confidence about skills that I was so comfortable with before… gone. Not comfortable anymore. The skills were still there, but the confidence was gone. The abilities I had to self-regulate and keep a lid on things when times got tight… gone. It was like someone took a deck of cards and flipped them all into the air, and then I was expected to compete in a poker tournament in Vegas. Not happening.

To say that this has been difficult would be an understatement. TBI… concussion… brain injury… whatever you want to call it, it’s a bitch. A stark raving slovering bitch.

But you know what? All those cards — even though they were scattered all over the place — they could be picked up again, and I could get back a whole lot of what I’d lost. It has been a long and torturous road, and this Thanksgiving it will be 8 years since that fall. I have either lost or almost lost so f*cking much that mattered to me in the past, and I’ve had to work my ass off to get back to a level that’s not even close to where I was before. But with time, I am all but positive that I am going to get back not only to that former level, but also take it up a notch. Because now I know what it’s like to lose so much. Now I know what it’s like to get knocked down so hard, and have to work my way back.

And most importantly of all, I am learning how to hang in there and keep fighting, even when things are so hard against me – like this job situation, the political dramas, the tension and hostile dynamics at work, and the nagging doubts and lack of self-confidence that just eats away at me, if I let it.

Sometimes the only way we can learn how to fly, is if we get the legs knocked out from under us. Imagine what would happen to the ostriches, if they couldn’t use their legs to escape predators… a lot of them would die, sure, but others would probably learn how to fly, and a whole new species would emerge.

I guess that’s what I’m doing with my life — creating a whole new species, a whole new way of living and operating. It’s not perfect, but the way I was before wasn’t perfect, either. When I get honest about that — really honest — I know that there were a lot of things that needed improvement before, but because they seemed to be working fairly well (I had money in the bank and a job and a home) I had no incentive to change them.

Only when I got injured..  and then things got so bad and the pain got so unbearable… did I take a wholesale look at my life and find the things that hadn’t actually been working for a long time, but I could let slide because I was functioning acceptably overall.

To say that my life has changed, would be an understatement. It has totally changed into something else, something I never would have expected myself to be living — more settled, more deliberate, more focused, and more social than ever, ever, ever in my life. Amazing. But that didn’t start to change until things broke down so badly that I had no choice but to change.

That’s how it usually goes with us human beings, is it not? So long as we can “get by” we figure we’re doing pretty well. We like to take it easy. We like to not push so hard. We like to chill. We don’t like to take huge risks, unless it’s exciting for us and we’re into that sort of thing. On the whole, we’re creatures of leisure, and we like it like that.

Unless something comes along and kicks us in the ass so hard, it pushes us off the tracks we were stuck in. Something pretty significant needs to blow us out of the rut we groove for ourselves in our lives. And sometimes we don’t survive the explosion. But sometimes we do. In fact, I think we’re a lot more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. When we can get past the initial anxiety and worry and intimidation… things change.

But speaking of change, I’ve got to get on with my day. I’ve got a lot to do, and I’ve got my schedule cleared to do it. I was up early, so I hope to take a nap later, to keep myself going. If I work this right, I’ll be totally wiped out by 2 p.m., when I’ll lie down for a 30-minute nap… then get up and go at it again.

Practice, practice, practice. Build some more habits. Deepen the grooves. Get those neurons firing — so frequently in the same way that they cannot help but create new patterns, new abilities, new ways of living and being and seeing and understanding.

It’s a whole new day, and another chance to strengthen the new.

Onward.

What REALLY happened

Storms happen

Just a quick note before I head out the door to work — I had a somewhat rough weekend, feeling sick and out of it, after my meltdown on Friday. I really felt like I’d screwed up, and I didn’t know how to make it better or what to do to fix it. I knew that I’d been over-tired, that I’d been stressed, that I’d really had a hard time handling everything, and that the next time I needed to do a better job of managing my time and my energy — and come up with an alternate plan, in case the first one doesn’t work out (d’oh).

Yesterday, though, while I was doing some work around the yard, I was giving this all a lot of thought, wondering what the hell would have possessed me to say and do the things I did. It made no sense. I know better. I have better sense. I am capable of better things than that, and I know it. I tried to do better. I really did. I almost pulled it together a bunch of times, but I could not let it go. And it tore the sh*t out of both my spouse and me.

So, why didn’t I do better? Why did I end up getting hijacked by those emotions and carried away to the abyss? Seriously, the things I was “up against” were minor, compared to other more serious things I’ve faced with more agility and control. So, why was I in such terrible form on Friday?

It occurred to me that the thing that got hold of me was not psychological. It was not mental. It was not a problem with my thinking. After all, on Friday while I was having that meltdown, there were periods when I was completely calm and lucid and at peace — then BAM! — everything changed in an instant, and I was off to the races again. The only explanation that fits, is that it was an actual neurophysiological reaction — a physical thing that got sparked by something that actually precedes rational thought in my mind. Of course, I could not defend against it, because it got hold of me before my mind could get a hold on it. And that has the hallmarks of an over-activated fight-flight response written all over it.

That is, it was not a problem with my thinking, per se, it was a problem with my body. The whole drama was based on a purely physical response. It was not a psychological drama that I created, it was a physical phenomenon — a physiologically rooted set of behaviors that kick into action way before any kind of logically calm and mindful activity could take place. In fact, it was based on a system of response that is hard-wired into me (into all of us, actually) to save me from being burned up in a fire or carried away in a tsunami. When things seem dangerous (and my body is primed to be hyper-alert to danger), like they did on Friday when things weren’t working out the way I wanted them to and I was really uptight over not having enough time to rest, my fight-flight kicks in big-time. And then look out.

Like on Friday.

Oh – I’m running out of time. Gotta go.

More on this later.

One last thought for the day: 50 bucks says that before the end of the decade, people are going to have a friggin’ clue about the role the autonomic nervous system plays in not only trauma and PTSD, but problems with TBI healing and recovery, panic-anxiety, anger management, various behavioral syndromes, ADD/ADHD, self-injuring behaviors, mental illnesses of many kinds, as well as autistic spectrum disorders… and they are going to actively incorporate physiological therapies (including regular well-designed exercise) into the mix that target specific physical elements that need to be strong and balanced, in order to get your act together. Less drugs, more exercise and attention to the body. Better health overall.

And fewer meltdowns. At least for me. (And not before the end of this decade for me ;)

‘Cause seriously folks, it’s all connected.

More on the Polyvagal Theory (pdf) later. It helps explain what really happened on Friday.

Letting ourselves heal

There may not be a path visible ahead, but that doesn't mean the view isn't great...

I’ve been thinking a lot about healing TBI, lately…  Thinking about all the different pieces of my physical health that I’ve addressed and that have helped me regain my balance and get so much of my life back… Thinking about behaviors that I’ve modified, expectations I’ve changed, and minor adjustments to my daily logistics that have made major differences.

Things like getting regular exercise…. backing off on the junk food… cutting out dairy… and getting good sleep. And let’s not forget the sitting and breathing and learning to relax. Those things have been huge.

There are parts of me I’ve had to leave behind, but to be honest, those parts are fading into distant memory. The old way I used to propel myself through life, just flying through my days on virtual autopilot, not paying attention to anything except what was in my mind — and unfortunately what was in my mind was often mistaken or erroneous because I didn’t have good information and I didn’t realize it.

In some cases it seems as though some of those old ways never even existed. It’s odd. I can’t even imagine doing some of those things now. Things like eating all that junk food… not getting any regular exercise… not fully engaging in conversations with people, but “winging it” and then missing important pieces of the discussions… going-going-going at top speed, not giving much thought to what I was doing, but just doing… getting hurt and not bothering to stop and rest.

I’m sure there are other parts of my past “old familiar” ways I’ve forgotten. There’s a lot of my past that I can’t remember. Is this normal? I have no idea. Other people seem to have lots of good memories from the past, but most of my memories are vague — and getting even more distant.

Maybe happiness is good health and a bad memory. Because forgetting what once held me back doesn’t seem to be detracting from my quality of life. In fact, it may be improving it. People always talk about the NOW, living in the present, being fully engaged in the moment… and yet so many people are really caught up in their memories, their past, the things that used to make up their lives.

That doesn’t seem to be a problem I have. The past is becoming a dim memory… and with it a lot of memories of unhappiness are going away. I’m sure there are memories of happiness in there, too, but truly, you don’t miss what you can’t remember.

Anyway, enough of the memory digression. I’ve been a little concerned about my memory, to be honest. So, I get a little hung up on it. I definitely need to find a better way to think about it — a way that doesn’t make me feel like I’m losing my mind.

What I really want to focus on is the positive, the healing. The recovery. There are so many things that can go wrong, that can seem wrong, that can throw us off… and if we get fixated on them being “wrong” we can miss out on the positive opportunities, the chances for things to be alright and good and getting better, the chance to see things as a step in the right direction, instead of a series of problems that are just holding me back.

I guess it’s true of just about anyone who’s been through some stuff — which would account for just about everybody walking around on the planet today. We are so often left with a slew of problems to wade through, and we get so caught up in experiencing those things as problems that we end up getting mired in the problems and then miss out on the good parts of our lives – some of which may actually come as a result of the “problems” we have.

For example, since my fall in 2004, headaches and fatigue have been a big problem for me. And I’ve really struggled with keeping going when I am wiped out and in pain. But at the same time, I have discovered that I am able to relax, when I put my mind to it. This is something I rarely had before. I just wasn’t interested in relaxing. It was boring. It didn’t light a fire under me. It was just a drag. But since I learned how to relax, I find that I have even more energy than I had before, and far from being a permanent state of dullness, relaxation actually brings me to life. So, having more fatigue and constant headaches in my life has brought some benefits to me that I wouldn’t have had the reason to pursue otherwise.

I’m not saying it’s been great, having the fatigue and headaches (and all the other issues over the years). But it has pushed me to make some changes in my life that I needed to make, anyway. And if I hadn’t made these changes, I’m not sure I’d be as happy as I am right now.

So, that being said, I do think it’s important that we learn to let ourselves heal — that we cut ourselves a break and learn to let ourselves be, so the unseen ways of life and our hidden systems can work their magic to get us back to some sort of balance. I do believe that the human system is built for balance, and if we can get out of our own ways, we can allow a lot of healing to take place.

It’s when we try to control and judge and drive the process ourselves that we can get into trouble. When we cut off our natural abilities to regain equilibrium, being so busy trying to manage our own recovery and healing, we can short-circuit the systems that are built into us to recover our balance and get on with our lives. It’s when we belabor our situation with all sorts of judgment and criticism, that we can stop ourselves from making real progress — progress which might look very different from how we think it should look.

So, all that being said, this morning, my healing looks like just getting on with my life… Having a bunch of stuff I have to take care of, and getting down to taking care of it… Being responsible and taking on more activities that are necessary and needed. I can let myself do this. I can let myself be successful. And I can let myself get on with my day. Anything less wouldn’t be the truth about me at all.

Getting my life back, one detail at a time

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about how I’m managing to get my life back. It’s taken me a few years, and it hasn’t been easy, but I do feel like I’m finally getting to a place where I can really live my life just as me, instead of focusing mainly on overcoming all my hardships.

Now, mind you, the hardships have not completely disappeared. For the past week, I have been almost dangerously dizzy, and I have not felt well. I have not been sleeping as much as I need to, and my head has been filled with a fuzzy fog. It still is, in fact. I’m also a bit dizzy, still. And I don’t feel well. If I didn’t have to go to work today, I wouldn’t.

But even in the midst of not feeling well, being incredibly off-balance, and not knowing what I could do about it — apart from eat less junk food, get more sleep, and take my time doing things I can normally do quickly — I’ve still managed to do some important things. I’ve been talking to recruiters, looking for new jobs, and visiting an old friend who lives several states away.

There hasn’t been a lot of difference, lately, between how I feel now and how I felt three years ago. I had tons of balance issues, then — they appeared to be diet-related, and when I changed what I ate, the vertigo pretty much went away. The big difference now is that I am aware of the issues, and I’ve developed coping mechanisms to deal with them. I’ve got a lot of tools I can use to get through my day, even if I’m incredibly dizzy, off-balance, nauseated, and bone-tired. I may not be able to prevent these experiences from happening, but I do know how to manage them.

And I do manage them.

I guess this is the difference I see between my own TBI recovery and what I’ve heard others talk about, especially in terms of having to accept limitations and change your expectations of what life has to offer. I do believe that some of what I’ve got going on  — the sensitivities, the fatigue, the constant restlessness, and more — may be with me for the rest of my life. But I also believe that I can manage them, rather than letting them take over my life. When I focus on my goals and intentions of what I want to achieve in life, and I make them the primary focus of my life, all the extra things that get in the way have a lot less power over me. Realizing that my problems don’t have to stop me — that I can come up with new and different ways of handling these things — has been a huge part of my healing.

I do say “healing” because that’s what has happened, which has made my recovery possible. Finding a way to, first, understand what was/is going on with me, and second, to constructively approach those things, has been like a balm to my spirit, and it’s made so much more possible in my life.

I really have my neuropsych to thank for a lot of this. And also people who work with PTSD and cognition and recovery and rehabilitation. I have a lot of people to thank, as well as all the readers of this blog, who have kept me going through the past months and years. So, thank you. :)

Anyway, speaking of getting my life back, I have a meeting in 10 minutes, so I need to wrap up here. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I am getting my life back, and it’s been a gradual process, focused on handling one thing at a time, one challenge at a time. Just learning to know what my different issues are — working my way through the 84 different things that can come up, and addressing each one, one at a time… or two or three or four at a time. But you get the point — it’s been incremental, really. My progress has been “all over the map” at times, but then, organic stuff usually is a bit messy and imprecise. There’s part of me that wishes it were clean and clinical and controlled, but that’s not likely to happen.

So, I’ll take what I can get, and get on with the day.

And keep on getting my life back.

The things we do to heal

I just learned about the movie Marwencol. Check out the trailer video and visit the site. Fascinating.

This kind of reminds me of my own retreat from the rest of the world, over the course of my life. Although my own withdrawal from the world where I got hurt on a regular basis was not nearly as labor intensive as Marwencol, it was in fact my own private Idaho. It was a place where I could pull back and experience my own life on my own terms without danger of being hurt or mistreated or dismissed. I have that place boxed up in tens of journals I’ve kept over the years, and stashed on bookshelves filled with subjects of  “study” that never came to anything.

My own removal from the world started when I was around seven or eight years old. And it stopped 35 years later. I can’t wait to see this movie, Marwencol — I’d like to see how someone else did it. And how it turned out for them.

It makes me wonder how many people are actually walking around with one foot in one world and one foot in the other.

No, I’m not changing my theme

Be what you are

As much as I appreciate the hard work of the folks at WordPress, and as impressed as I am (and I am) with their recent additions to the theme “family”, I’m not going to change the design of this blog… yet, anyway. I’ve been sorely tempted, but so far, I haven’t found anything that does the trick for me like this “old” theme.

Not that you stopped by to hear me say so… I just thought I’d put that out there.

Actually, I’m writing in a larger context. I’ve been thinking about what I write about, and why. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my family and what life is bringing their way. I was just on Facebook, checking up on one of my sibling’s kids (who, in a moment of unexpected trust, allowed me to “friend” them). Their teenage adventures have, from what I can tell, been fairly benign. So far, anyway.

But I had a shock when I saw some recent pictures they had taken and posted of their parent — my sibling. Man oh man, do they look a whole lot older than when I last saw them! It’s startling. It’s like life took out its mean-stick and smacked them around a bunch. I had no idea. And the fact of my overwhelming fatigue and how it gets in the way of so much in my life — not to mention the difficulties I have with staying in touch with my family — hits me once more. I wish to heaven I could just pick up the phone. But with this sibling, it’s never a good time, they’ve got to round up the kids or take care of some neighborhood task or head out to an appointment… or they’re just not around… And so it goes, till the next holiday season rolls around and maybe, just maybe, we get to be in the same room together again.

Thinking about this sibling, who is younger than me but looks a hell of a lot older, I’m struck by the thought that — fatigue and pain and confusion aside — perhaps I’m doing something right. Maybe, just maybe, I’m making the kinds of choices and participating in the kinds of activities that sustain me and keep me healthy and hale and hearty. Maybe I am getting enough sleep, after all. Maybe I am taking care of myself properly. Maybe the theme of my life is a good one, and it’s paying off…

One thing I have to say about this sibling of mine — nobody ever talks about it, but it’s my belief that they have been clinically depressed for about 20 years. They put on a good show, and they do well with staying reasonably functional, but the inside of their house looks like hell, and their spouse is on perpetual alert with them. It’s like they’ve gone to all this effort to keep the outside of their life together, but inside it’s a wreck. And now the inside is starting to show on the outside.

I wish I knew what to do. This sibling has been beyond my reach for as long as I can remember. Hell, they’ve been beyond their own reach for as long as I can remember. They act like they seem to think they should, but they just never seem, well, there. And I count myself unbelievably fortunate that the injuries and hurts and drawbacks I’ve sustained have not devastated me, the way my sibling’s have.

Heartbreaking. Infuriating. Puzzling. I’ve healed from so much… why are they still suffering? Why is anyone still suffering? Mind-bending. Heart-breaking. Oh…

Someone once said to me that the best way I could help others who were unhappy was to model being happy. That the best way I could support other people to be healthy is to be the healthiest I can be. I guess, absent a visit and a chance to talk with my sibling, I’ll focus this effort on whoever else is listening/watching out there. I have a bunch of co-workers to model for. And I have plenty of people I come across in the course of each day/week/month who can use a little lift. My sibling may be unhappy and unable to emerge from under their dark cloud, but I don’t have to go there with them. I’m allowed to be happy. I’m allowed to be healthy.

No, I’m not changing my theme.

Narrowmindedness breeds disability

Permanent Vacation is a post everyone should read. It’s important. And it’s true. And since the chances of you getting through life without encountering at least one person who needs a little extra help are slim to none, you should read it, think about it, and let it guide your future thoughts and actions.

The issues around disability have been a regular part of my life for a long time. I’ve lived with disabled people, and I’ve worked with them.

Back in the day before I fell down the stairs in 2004 and my life almost completely fell apart, my day job was ensuring that large-scale websites were accessible for disabled folks and others with accessibility needs. Accessibility isn’t just about helping the blind use a website, or offering text-based alternatives to audio for hard-of-hearing or deaf folks. It’s also about making a website usable for folks who can’t use a mouse (too much mouse use can do that to you – trust me), or for folks who needed text to be larger than the 20-something-chosen miniscule stylized fonts that folks born after 1980 seem to be particularly fond of. It covers everything from how you navigate a website to how you use the information. There’s a lot to cover, and a lot of software engineers don’t want to bother with it.

I’m not sure why – it’s just basic human decency that drives the accessibility train.

At the time I was making websites more accessible, I had no idea that one day I would have my own disability to deal with — a twice-hidden disability, no less, which is as adept at hiding itself from me, as it is at hiding itself from others. Granted, one of the things that obscures TBI as a disability is the fundamental human aversion to brain problems. We don’t want to know about it, don’t want to think about it, don’t want to explore it, and we certainly don’t want to have to live our lives around a traumatic brain injury, concussion, whiplash, or whatever else you care to call the damage to what’s between your ears.

There’s a weirdly Darwinian streak we all seem to have within ourselves, when it comes to surviving head trauma. Either we heal, or we don’t. Either we’re okay, or we’re not. No middle ground. No gray areas. No good days or bad days. Just OK or NOT OK. And if you can’t make a go of living your life after you’re diagnosed and have treatment… or after having a few days/weeks/months off to get back on your feet… and if you can’t go back to functioning as normally afterwards as you did before, then you deserve to be shunted to the back of the room/bus/line, as someone who is “just not trying hard enough.”

Well, there’s head-injured, and then there’s stupid. These kinds of attitudes towards head-injured people are just plain stupid. And they do more to hinder the long-term well-being of TBI survivors, than any amount of brain trauma.

I could get incredibly riled over this — and believe me, I have in the past — but I’ve got a full day ahead of me, doing things I love to do, so I’m not going down that road. I will say, however, that if people could just get some basic facts about head injury and its effects… if people in general could just realize that an injury to the brain is indeed an injury and it never stops affecting the person who was hurt… if people could just step back and take a little bit more time and stop being so haughty and egotistical in their attitudes toward disabled and otherwise challenged folks, the world would literally be a better place.

See, here’s the thing… A serious, enduring injury (like TBI) is not the sort of thing you can heal all on your own. It’s not like a broken leg. You can’t put a cast on it that people can see and sign — and help you with, when you’re approaching revolving doors. The brain (especially) has a way all its own, and it’s a mystery to even the most accomplished experts, how it heals — and why. And while the brain may restore itself to some extent, the full-spectrum impact of a TBI is not the sort of thing that can be healed only by the physical knitting together of the severed connections — which can actually never be restored to their pre-injury state… Once the damage is done, it’s done (from what the experts say).

The full-spectrum impact of a TBI can touch every aspect of your life, from your sleep/wake cycles, to your tolerance of heat and cold, to your ability to understand what people are saying to you, to your tolerance for frustration. It can make you jumpy and irritable and verbally abusive, and it can cause you to say and do things you would never want to do, by reducing your brain’s ability to inhibit unwanted words and action.

And what’s more, the changes don’t just affect the injured party — they affect everyone that person comes in contact with, either directly or indirectly. Even if you manage to present as perfectly normal, even if you manage to keep your act together on the surface, if you’ve got TBI related issues like increased distractability, lower thresholds for anger, and sleep disruptions, the cascade of behavioral and logistical effects can create subtle cracks in the foundation of your everyday life, which ultimately compromise your ability to get on with your life in a mature and responsible fashion, even your physical and mental health.

Here’s how you can get into trouble, thanks to a TBI:

  • TBIs have a nasty way of slowing down your thought processing speed.
  • Sleep disruptions have a nasty way of resulting in increased agitation and distractabilty.
  • Increased distractability can lead to “careless mistakes”.
  • These can lead to arguments with others.
  • Arguments can escalate if your flashpoint threshold is low.
  • A low anger flashpoint threshold can become even more explosive if you’re tired and not thinking well.

Now, if the people you’re dealing with have no idea that you’re having trouble sleeping, and you take a little while longer to process what’s happening, and they don’t have a clue how quickly your temper escalates (through no intention of your own, by the way), that just compounds the problems. Everything is complicated by impatient people who are in a hurry to get stuff done, without being mindful of the one they’re dealing with. Nothing is easy, when someone does stupid stuff to provoke you, or doesn’t cut you any slack. A hidden disability has a nasty way of getting worse, when you have to deal with someone who has no compassion and no patience for others who are just operating at a different speed than them… and who say and do unkind and hurtful things, just because they can.

Truly, it doesn’t have to take much to help someone with a disability like TBI get through the day. All it takes is some understanding and humility and respect. If you know full well that everybody has issues, that everybody has an impairment of some kind (large or small), and you understand that people-helping-people is a great way to not only get the job done, but also humanize your interactions, then the abilities of both parties are enhanced, countless issues can be avoided on the spot.

The injured person standing at the counter gets an extra few minutes to figure out what they want to do, and the person waiting on them gets an extra few minutes to catch their breath in the midst of a busy day. It’s not a bad thing.

But if the people you’re dealing with don’t have patience and compassion and aren’t willing to cut you a break, they create havoc for both you and them. The lack of simple, fundamental human decency, and a close-minded judgment of those who are different in some way, does far more damage in the long run, than the actual injury itself. Treating the disabled like they’re sub-human registers with us on a deep and fundamental level that wreaks havoc with our concentration, our focus, our available energy stores. Instead of solving a problem, like ordering from a menu or discussing a customer service issue, we’re plunged into a life-and-death battle for our basic human dignity. When people who are supposed to serve us refuse to treat us with respect, we walking wounded have to shift our attention away from the real problem we’re trying to solve, and shift over to the debasing challenge of convincing the person who’s supposed to help us solve the problem that we deserve to have the problem solved.

Which is a total friggin’ drain — one that should never have to happen.

Look… everyone has issues. Can we agree on that? Everyone has some problem of some kind. There’s no escaping that fact. Some of us have more obvious or more comprehensive injuries than others. But it’s really how we deal with our problems, and how we treat others who have different kinds of problems, that determines the debilitating effects of the injury.

If someone with a TBI has more problems when they’re rushed and pressured, then others can help them out by not putting all sorts of pressure on them, and not rushing them to do and say things they need to think through, first.

If someone with a TBI has more problems when they don’t get enough sleep, then their friends and family can help them by not demanding that they stay up late to watch a movie or television with them.

If someone with a TBI has hard of hearing, then others can help them by talking directly to them, not covering their mouths, and not making additional background noise while they’re talking.

But if everyone who thinks they’re okay is locked into the idea that if you don’t behave in such-and-such a way… or you don’t think or talk at such-and-such a speed… there’s something wrong with YOU, then the small problems become much larger. And the after-effects of injuries become even more debilitating.

Ultimately, I believe there is a solution to almost every problem out there. And with the right information and the right mindset… the right education and intention, issues that are sticky can be unstuck, and disability can be diminished. But if people who are supposed to help, flatly refuse to do so, then they themselves are helping to create and perpetuate true disability.

It’s not the injury that’s ultimately the problem. It’s ignorance and smallmindedness.