Some time back, I announced I was going to start cooking as a conscious way to deal with my TBI symptoms. And then I forgot about it 😉
Well, I’ve remembered my resolution intermittently over the past couple of months, and I realize that — intentionally or not, I’ve become the official cook of my household. My spouse has been having health issues that prevent them from standing and walking around much, so it’s been pretty much on me to get dinner on the table when it needs to be there. On top of that, they have been working a lot of jobs lately, so I’m the only one in the house with a predictable schedule.
So, I’ve been cooking. I don’t do fancy meals — mostly things that just need to be cut up and put in a pan and turned on low for an hour or so. Most of my work is preparation of vegetables to go in the pan — peeling and slicing and what-not. Oh, and keeping an eye on the clock, so I don’t burn it.
And I have to say, it’s actually been helping me. Not only is it good to eat food that I’ve prepared (I know what’s in it), but it’s really good for my timing and my coordination. Things like chopping or peeling used to be a real problem for me, when my spouse would say something to me, or I would be distracted by something. It’s really embarrassing to admit, but I used to just freak out, if they talked to me while I was preparing supper. I simply could not handle more than one task at a time. I would drop things and get panicked and yell and really pitch a fit — waaaaaay out of proportion for what was going on:
my spouse said something to me while I was dicing an onion.
Well, anyway, I’m really happy to report that that foolishness has stopped. My neuropsych has helped immensely, training me to think in terms of being able to control that kind of behavior, rather than give into it, just ’cause I’ve been injured. Plus, I’ve realized that when my spouse talks to me, I don’t have to respond immediately in that moment. They can wait a few minutes till I get done chopping. And I don’t have to cut my fingers anymore. I used to do that a lot, when people talked to me, which freaked me out (needless to say). So, I developed this complex about people talking to me when I was cutting things with a knife.
But that’s cleared. And I can chop up my food without losing it.
Woot – woot
It’s the little things, you know?
Well, anyway, I just wanted to do a quick check-in about that. Cooking, with its timing and patience and impulse control elements, is extremely good exercise for me. It helps me on so many levels. And when I’m done, I actually have something to show for my work. If I screw something up, there’s always tomorrow night. I haven’t burned the house down (though I’ve ruined a few pans by turning up the heat “for a little while” and then forgetting all about them… and then discovering something was amiss, thanks to the smoke alarm). And even when I’ve burned the food, I’ve managed to salvage it. Most of the time.
Probably the best thing about this, though, is that it makes me a productive contributor at home, in ways I can actually manage after long days at work. I don’t have much energy for much anything else, by the time all is said and done, but I do have energy to cook. And lo and behold, I often find that after cooking supper, I’ve got some energy back, which is good for my home life.
What a drag it must be, to live with someone who can’t manage to stay up past 8:30 every night… Staying up a little later gives me a few hours to check in and remind my spouse who I am, what I’m about, and keep our marriage going.
And what a drag it must have been, for those many years, when I was a terror in the kitchen, freaking out and flying into a rage over small and simple things… having temper flares and melt-downs over little things like dropping a spoon… getting all agitated, just when my spouse would talk to me… and being so unbelievably irritable, there was almost no dealing with me.
Cooking lets me focus in on what’s in front of me, do something useful and needed, and it lets me practice each night the skills I need to live beyond the kitchen — patience, executive functioning, sequencing, coordination, time management, working memory stuff, and more. It doesn’t just feed me for an evening — it can feed me for a lifetime.