Getting back into it…

I had a pretty rough weekend, and thank heaven it was a holiday. Gave me time to rest and recoup. I’ve been bothered increasingly by a lot of pain — “tactile hyperesthesia” I’m told it’s called. And it’s been driving me nuts. My clothes hurt me, any physical contact bothers me, and I have a hell of a time interacting with other folks who are demonstrative and like to reach out and touch you when they’re talking to you.

Times like these, I notice how tactile women are when they communicate. They reach out and touch you a lot more than men do, and it’s not only distracting, it’s also painful.

Small wonder, I tend to avoid the company of women unless there’s some structured activity going on. I’ve got nothing against women, but being around people who make a habit of making physical contact with you, when physical contact is painful, isn’t my idea of a great time. No matter how much I want to be around them, no matter how much I like them, no matter how much they want to be around me and like me, the simple fact of my sensitivities is distracting and uncomfortable and makes it very hard to interact.

With men, there’s less contact, but the ones with whom I have a good relationship also tend to make contact — handshakes, touching my arm or shoulder to get my attention, slapping me on the back… Ugh! The classic male prohibition against making physical contact with others might be poo-poohed in enlightened circles, but for me, it’s a huge relief.

The same goes for dealing with people in a highly structured corporate environment. Being in a working situation where roles are very clearly defined, and there is a code of conduct that everyone sticks with, no matter what, makes things that much easier to deal with in the course of each day. I’ve tried working for small companies and start-ups that had a more “family” feel to them. What a nightmare it was for me! Words cannot express. I ended up flaming out, several times, melting down and screwing up everything within reach, leaving those companies behind without any good explanation for why I was coming apart at the seams. The lack of structure and the “family feel” with its personal, intimate tone, seemed to be comforting for a lot of folks I worked with, but for me, it was a nightmare.

Me? I like an impersonal, detached corporate environment where nobody knows much of anything about each other’s personal lives, and nobody ever makes physical contact with each other. Call me stunted, call me damaged, call me asocial. That’s what works for me. Give me structure, and I get to be human. Remove that structure, and I start to unravel.

Anyway, I’m getting ready right now for heading out to become human at my massive multi-national corporate employer, meanwhile thinking about how to approach a new personal project I’m working on. It’s a program for tracking my issues each day. I had wanted to do it with one type of technology, but that’s turning out to be less fitting for my purposes. I need to use a different type of technology, a different programming language, which I have not been able to learn for the last 4-5 years. I started to learn it, around the time of my fall in 2004, but since then, I haven’t been able to make any headway.

Now it looks like I’m going to have to. I have no choice — this language is the only one I can use for my purposes. So, I have to learn it. And I’m freaked out. Because I’m not sure I can.

But I have to remember that I’ve recently taught myself the ins and outs of another programming language which had also eluded me for a number of years. And I am pretty proficient in it, by now. So, logically speaking, there is hope. I have to have hope. I have to believe — no, not believe, but actually know — that I have the ability to learn this stuff. Even if I have trouble reading and remembering what I read. Even if I have trouble following sequences. Even if I have trouble concentrating for extended periods of time. I was able to learn that other language. using my own learning style and a lot of unconventional approaches, and the only thing keeping me from learning this new language, is me and my reluctance to start.

So, I’ve got to start. Get myself back in the game. It’s the end of a long weekend, and the fall season is just around the corner. The five-year anniversary of my last TBI accident (and the 14-year anniversary of one of my earlier TBIs) is coming up.  I’ve been working my way back, slowly but surely, and things are looking up.

Life is good. I can get back.  And so I shall.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. 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 since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… 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.

4 thoughts on “Getting back into it…”

  1. Glad you are going to stick around….

    You bring up many important points lately

    1. Research has shown that physical excercise is an important component in tbi recovery and in general it acts to regulate your states – we NEED excercise.

    2. Fear of revealing TBI is one of the more frustrating aspects of trying to provide support and advocacy. Yet it is a reality – people tend to not believe that you are capable if you acknowledge that you had a tbi. While a blog offers some discretion it can still feel (and be) exposing.

    3. Balance of priorities is always difficult, especially with tbi.

    4. Awareness of healing – and awareness of deficits – is a continuous process. By the by – excercise can help with the pain issues. But sometimes if you can’t get around it you just gotta go through it – by not avoiding the tactile you can rebuild the filters to mitigate sensation and reduce the sense of ‘pain’. Imagine your sensory receptors are like an infants – even a breeze can be felt excessively.

    More soon….

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  2. Yes, I’ve noticed that exercise helps me with the pain business. It’s a vicious cycle, really — when I am in pain, I tend to avoid exertion, and then the pain gets worse. I have been literally forcing myself to exercise regularly, which is helping with things a bit. Not in the clear, by any means, but getting there…

    Thanks for checking in again. Hope to hear more from you soon.

    BB

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  3. tactile hyperesthesia. I had never heard of this before. I knew something changed in me in a big way and that I do not want to be touched. I had no idea there was a name for it. Thanks for helping me make sense of this and giving it a name.

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  4. Hey Judi –

    I hadn’t heard about the name, myself, either. It sure can be reassuring to know that it’s not all in your head, and you’re not the only one who is feeling that. My own tactile issues have caused me a great deal of hassle, over the years, and I always thought there was something wrong with ME, rather than it being a physiological/neurological thing. I have another appt with my neuropsych next week, and I’m going to ask for more information — or find out where else I can find info about it. I may not be able to fix it, necessarily, but just knowing more about it can help.

    Good luck with your tactile issues!

    BB

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