From March, 2009 – I may have never actually published this…
I’ve been meaning to finish up my writing on “A Perilous Relief“, which is about how I use stress to relieve certain kinds of distress in my life, and how that works against me.
But then I got caught up in thinking about how TBI and PTSD intersect and feed each other. And then I got caught up in thinking about Tetris and how it might help relieve PTSD flashbacks. And then I got caught up in thinking about Natasha Richardson. And then I got caught up in thinking about my job situation. And then…
All of these are very interesting things to think about, and some of them (like job stuff) are quite valuable, if not essential. But in the process of researching the different pieces of these puzzles, I went down a bunch of rabbit holes.
And the paths that used to be pretty straightforward and simple, have now gotten tangled and twisty and have intersected with other paths, so I’ve been wandering around this veritable “rabbit warren” of interests and — let’s face it — distractions.
It’s all very important to me, of course, but these different ideas have been competing for time and attention, and there’s really only so much I can do in any given day. I need to keep my household running, I need to do my taxes, I need to keep current at work, and I need to make sure I’m getting enough sleep each night and I’m eating well.
I need to square away some very basic needs which are not nearly as dramatic and entertaining as exploring my MRI in 3D, but which are essential to my daily functioning. And those things are getting lost in the shuffle. Kind of like “A Perilous Relief” has gotten back-burnered numerous times, since I started working on it a few months back. I know I need to mind my sleeping patterns. I know I need to take my vitamins regularly. I know I need to cut out munching on junk food at 3 p.m. each day (it’s making my tongue break out, in addition to making me feel bad generally). I know I need to help with cooking and cleaning and shopping and yard work. But I get so caught up in other things that I overlook them and don’t tend to them. And things start to fall apart around me.
Which isn’t so bad, when you’re cognitively fully-abled. But when you’ve got cognitive deficits and you’re susceptible to paralyzing anxiety and overwhelm, something as simple as a messy desk can throw off your entire day. And not being able to find papers I need in the construction disaster area of my office sends me into a tailspin that triggers my hot temper and makes me miserable to live with.
I really do need to tend to the basics. But I hate having to tend to the basics. I’ve never been good at it, and I feel it’s terribly unfair of the universe to force me to pay attention to that kind of stuff. For most of my life, I’ve been able to function well in the midst of mess and chaos. No more. Not in the past few years, since my fall in 2004.
I think this is probably the most frustrating part of TBI — not being able to take for granted the things I always did before. Like sleeping through the night. Like keeping my cool in tough situations. Like remembering whether or not I shampooed my hair in the shower, five minutes ago. Like understanding and remembering what was just said to me. I have to expend so much friggin’ energy just keeping up with stuff that everybody else seems to have no problem with — and the everybody else assumes I can do just fine — that it gets depressing, and I lose interest in it pretty quickly. It’s tough to sustain invested interest in stuff that you keep getting wrong, over and over and over again, till you spend much of your time demoralized over the littlest things. There’s only so much failure at fundamentals I can take, before I back away from my problems and avoid them entirely.
So, I end up neglecting things I should take care of — like my sleep schedule. Like my temper. Like my personal hygiene. Like asking for clarification while I’m talking to someone about something important. Granted, I’m not an exhausted, explosive, unkept, smelly one-sided conversationalist. But I could go there all too easily, if I didn’t keep track of where I’m at… and if I didn’t realize that I have these (and many other) issues.
When I slow down long enough to examine my life, I can see plain as day that all is not 100% perfecto in my life. I have many areas where I need help, and I get that. Finally, I get that. Having my neuropsych evaluation turn up hard data about me being really distractable, having a hard time with sustained attention, being prone to missing important pieces of information that are said to me, and having a Swiss cheese working memory that drops information (literally) in the space of a few seconds, has brought it home, loud and clear, that I can’t do this all by myself. I am in fact impaired. I need help, God help me.
So, I’m now starting to find folks to help me with those things. My neuropsychologist has started to help already. And my new therapist, who has a neuropsychological background, has already helped with some communication issues. I’m also getting to a point where I’ll reach out to a speech pathologist to help me with my verbal comprehension and processing. It’s all coming together. With the help of others.
But for now, I need to tend to basics… finish my breakfast, take my shower (and shampoo my hair), dress for work, and go earn my pay. It’s not the most exciting prospect in the world, but it’s all got to get done.