One of the things about TBI that makes it so maddening is that it strips you of regular functionality without ever bringing the fact to your attention. In fact, if anything, a brain injury is expressly “interested” in keeping you from knowing that you are impaired.
The brain doesn’t want to believe that it is having problems. The brain doesn’t want you to believe that you’re having problems. It’s like there’s this inherent mechanism that STOPS THINKING as soon as it encounters something threatening. It’s like the very experience of hesitation or trepidation short-circuits the rational faculties of the brain with a cascade of fear-chemistry, and it automatically shifts gear away from the parts that scare it. And you end up never realizing the degree to which you are actually impaired.
Until everyone else around you gets tired of your issues and lets you know. But even then, it can be all but impossible to get your head around what they are telling you. Because despite all evidence to the contrary, your brain is telling you YOU’RE FINE! EVERYTHING IS HUNKY DORY! WHAT- ME WORRY?! NO WAY!
And everything goes to hell (or almost does) before you ever notice.
That’s what happened to me. And in my case, the situation was even more dire, because everyone around me totally bought the cover I’d been using for as long as they’d known me — that I was fine, just a little eccentric, just a maverick/rebel — and they didn’t pick up on the problem spots. Perhaps also in part due to the fact that a lot of my friends have also sustained head trauma in the past (?)
Anyway, now I know I’ve got issues, and I’ve got professional help both identifying the problems and coming up with solutions.
One of the areas where I’m trying to get my house in order, is with regard to consistency. I’m really good at coming up with a plan of action and sticking with it for a few weeks, then I fall off my own wagon, so to speak, and I end up wandering aimlessly, not tending to the things I need to be tending to. I make people crazy, including people I work with. And I’m tired of doing this.
I’ve been keeping a daily planner/log for quite some time, but only lately have I really focused on making sure that I both identify things I’m going to do AND identify the amount of time I’m going to spend on them AND track the results. I have spent the last month or so logging the things on my plate, and then looking back at what I’ve accomplished, and marking off the things that worked out, and the things that didn’t.
And it’s helping. In the past, I would just write down a bunch of stuff I knew I needed to get done, and then just take them piecemeal, or in sudden rushes of activity, or just whenever I felt like it. I didn’t have a lot of discipline around it all, because (I told myself) I was an “artist” and I was too creative to be stuck in some time-management grind, day in and day out.
Well, being creative and an artist is all well and good, but it’s a pretty crappy way to get anything done. Especially if I’m going to be working at a truly professional level and keep my career moving in the right direction. If I’m going to be able to do jobs that entail a certain amount of responsibility, and if I’m going to get out of a line of work that depends heavily on being project managed by others (allowing me to manage myself), I must develop the habit of consistency, and doing the things I promise I’m going to do, when I promise I’m going to do them.
So, that’s my thing, now. That’s my intention. I am spending time each day scoping out my day, and I spend time after the fact, recapping what I’ve done. It’s a lot more planning and assessment than I am accustomed to doing, and it’s been a real challenge at times. But this is non-negotiable. If I am going to live the life of an adult, rather than as a dependent child (and relying on constant supervision at work is a form of childish dependency), I’m going to have to bite the bullet and just buckle down and do the work of managing myself. Actively, intentionally, deliberately. Consistently.
Either I swim with this, or I will sink. It’s that simple, really.