Enemy #1 – Complacency

Am I ever glad it’s spring. It’s about damned time. I swear, I’ve had about enough of the long nights and the inhospitable winter. Of course, compared to how winters used to be in the world — before we had central heating, hot and cold running water, and the internet — I’m sure we have it pretty good.

Maybe we have it too good.  After all, if there’s one thing I noticed about this winter, it’s that an uncharacteristic complacency has set in with me. Perhaps it’s this new job of mine — the company is established, and everyone has their own routines and their ways of doing things. It’s been working for them for years, and they are regularly told by management, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.” Hmm.  I have to wonder about that. I did notice, when I first started (wait – that was about 9 months ago, so I can’t really call it a “new” job – but I digress) people seemed very set in their ways and it bothered me. Then I got set in my own ways and it stopped bothering me.

Hmm. I have to wonder about that, too.

Anyway, over the past months of winter, I’ve found myself slipping into a kind of doldrum place. True, I’ve been crazy busy and I’ve been struggling to keep up, in some cases. But at the same time, I’ve felt myself “solidifying” around certain routines and ways of doing things. I’ve noticed myself making less of an effort at my workouts in the morning. I’ve noticed myself languishing longer at the beginnings of my days, and getting to work at a predictably later time of day (for the record, I stay later, so if I go earlier, I’ll end up working 20-12 hours each day, so my late arrivals are my built-in safety valve to keep from burning out). And I’ve noticed myself falling back more on eating junk food. Which means I’ve gained about 10 lbs I didn’t want to gain over the winter.

I wasn’t particularly active this winter. Maybe it was the various storms that came through, as well as the ice that built up. I’ve been very wary of falling, and I think that’s made me less interested in going outside when there’s a lot of ice. At the same time, though, I’ve let myself be more sedentary while inside, which isn’t excusable. It’s understandable, but I don’t want to sit around and understand something that really needs to be changed.

So, this morning I changed up my exercise routine and added some weight. I need to be lifting more weight — just moving the computer and old monitor around yesterday made me stiff and sore, which will never do. I hadn’t realized just how much of a lump I’d become until I started hauling equipment. Pathetic. But fixable.

I’m focusing more on the actual exercise of my routine – reading a little news, sure, but also doing more intervals on the bike. And putting more effort into my lifting. I hadn’t realized just how acclimated I was to that specific routine, till I started changing it up. Change is good, though. This is much needed.

I’m glad it’s spring. I can feel the proverbial sap rising, and all of a sudden I’m in the mood to really  DO things. Like get a new computer (which I’m still working on setting up – these things take time), clean out my home office, which has turned into a general holding area of all the paperwork I don’t feel like doing today, clear out some junk from the basement and garage, so I have room to work and make things again. It’s been a while since I made anything.  I miss it. Maybe if I get my stuff cleared out, I’ll be able to start doing that again.

I just got so complacent, I realize. Got used to things being a certain way. It’s comfortable for my anxiousness, and it’s not particularly agitating, to be doing the same things over and over. But at the same time, if I’m not challenging myself with the anxiety business, and I’m not pushing myself with my routines, I start to slide back. And that’s no good.

Complacency… yeah. It’s set in. But something else has set in, as well. Resignation. For several years, I’ve been railing against the idea that after TBI, only limited recovery is possible, and you need to just accept your limitations and not worry about being sub-self. Something in me just revolted against that with all my might, and I refused to let that possibility in.

Well, now I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to run out of steam. I get tired of working and working and working all the time, pushing myself and seeing what all is possible. I’m tired of examining myself in detail over every little thing, and I just want to live my life, already. Problem is, I can’t just live my life already, because all the stuff that I am used to doing by rote and reflex has either been screwed up in the past, or it’s gotten screwed up. Well, almost all of it. It’s impossible to say which of it has gotten screwed up, because it tends to shift and change. One minute, I’ll be fine, and the next minute, not so much.

It makes me crazy. And I just have to keep going. Because if I stop to examine what just happened in great detail (as I am prone to do), the flow gets all mucked up, and I end up even worse off than I was before. Farther behind. Struggling to keep up.

But if I don’t pay close attention to what’s going on around me, the same stuff happens. Good grief. What a huge pain in the ass.

Really, I just want to live my life.

But I can’t “just live my life” because that too often means I fall into complacency and get sloppy. And that’s not good. It’s really bad, in fact. And I can’t afford to go there.

What to do?

Well, in the first place, I need to make sure I get enough sleep. I keep harping on this, and it gets tiresome to listen to, I’m sure. But really – I need to get enough sleep. If I don’t sleep, shit starts to fall apart. I get foggy, I get lax, I get sloppy. And I become incoherent. Which is not good at work — but it’s been happening more and more lately. I friggin’ hate that. I know better, but I can’t seem to DO better. And it’s about as demoralizing as anything I can think of. Sleep is also critical for my moods. It’s tough for me to stay “up” when I’m exhausted. And when I’m feeling down because I’m tired, I eat junk food to pick myself up, so I end up gaining weight — and feeling like a steaming pile of crap as a result.

I also need to use my tools — write shit down, instead of thinking I’ll keep it all in my head (as I’ve been telling myself – stupidly) lately. When I think of things, I need to just write them down. No matter HOW convinced I am (and believe me, I am) that I’m clear about something and I’ll remember it, all too often, it just doesn’t happen. I need to pause periodically to consider what I’m doing and why, so I don’t just careen from one thing to the next (as I’ve been doing more frequently, lately)

I need to Do things now. As in, not wait for a “better” time to do them. This is so very important. All too often, life just comes up and gets in the way, and my best of intentions fly off into never-never land It’s not necessarily my TBI that does the job on me — it’s just life happening. The places where my broken brain causes problems are with the mistaken thinking that I’m going to actually get around to doing the shit that’s right in front of me.

And I need to slow down. Map out my days and make notes about the most important hings I need to get done. Truly. I need to just do some intelligent planning and not treat it like it’s a sign that I can’t manage without pen and paper. I’ve gotten away from planning my days, and it’s taking a toll. Part of the reason, I think, is because I’ve tended to get caught up in a lot of minutiae and got stuck in my overwhelming need to amass overwhelming details about Everything That Needs To Get Done. Before my last TBI in 2004, I wasn’t like this. I didn’t have a never-ending list of impossibly detailed steps for every single action I needed to take in a given day/week/month. But after my fall in 2004, suddenly, my need to micromanage everything from doing the laundry to going on vacation shot through the roof.

Lovely. But whatever modulator in my brain that was there before 2004 that knew and trusted the flow of sequential steps somehow magically disappeared. I’m not as bad as some — I have a friend who had several strokes, and they’re almost impossible to get out of the house to go down the road to buy convenience items. But I’m bad enough. And I notice it.

Anyway, it’s a beautiful day. Spring is in the air, and I’ve got a new computer. I have a handful of things I need to do today, and that’s fine. I haven’t been sleeping nearly enough, but I’ll take a nap later and call it a “win”. I need to get a move on and get on with my day. I’ve gotten used to doing things a certain way over the winter, and those things need to change now. I need to get proper rest and eat proper food. Get myself moving and air out the house. Really enjoy what I have and appreciate it, and keep moving towards what else I would like to accomplish in my life.

The main thing is, I can’t let myself get down about my setbacks. I need to remember that some things are probably always going to be a bit of a chore for me, but changing how I do them is going to pay off and let me actually live my life. There are really simple things that aren’t terribly inconveniencing — like making lists and slowing down every now and then — which help tremendously. And if I do them and make the most of the tools I have, I don’t have to get stuck in a terrible place and have to dig myself out of a hole all the time.

Well, that’s about all I’ve got for now. I’m pretty frustrated with myself and my life, right now. I feel like there’s a whole lot more I should be doing, but there’s also a whole lot less I should be doing. I guess I’m just in a perpetual state of transition with my life, these days. From season to season, from project to project, from this to that… transitions have never been easy for me, even when they’ve been good ones.

I just can’t let it get to me. Accept what I must, and refuse to accept the things I’m tempted to let slide. Get a handle on my work and my life and figure out this “flow” thing. I’ll figure it out, one way or another. I just get a little tired, is all.

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.

Talk about this - No email is required

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: