Sometimes I forget who I am

Funny, how that works… I can be making great progress, doing good work and making good connections. I can be on a major winning streak that lasts for days, weeks, months… And then all of a sudden, I run out of steam, I get backed up, my energy gets turned around… and I magically forget every good thing I’ve accomplished in my life.

I’m tired. That’s the crux of it. And the more tired I get, the harder I tend to push, and the farther in the hole I get.

Till I feel like I can’t climb out.

And I start to doubt everything and everyone… fight with people I have no reason to fight with… criticize people who deserve far better… dream about running away. Leaving it all behind. Just dropping whatever I’m doing and going off to do something… different.

Sometimes I work so hard, I wear myself out. And I get lost. I lost track. I forget where I am, I forget who I am.

Till I get the chance to get some sleep.

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 “Sometimes I forget who I am”

  1. BB –

    A few thoughts

    1. Should you keep seeing your neuropsych. That is an easy answer – ask your neuropsych. This is a person with whom you have a pretty intimate relationship, one that should have a large degree of honesty and trust – so you should be able to hear what they have to say. Most neuropsychs do start to encourage folks to break away after a certain point – however almost NONE just say ‘nice knowin’ ya, don’t let the door slam you in the arse’ – they usually develop a program of reducing visits and then a hiatus, possible a return to follow-up and give closure (or to return if you feel that is useful). Sometimes people see a neuropsych every month, every other month or even less, just for a reality check or support through crisis or even joy.

    2. BI survivors almost universally have some sort of psychosocial issues – they have rigid black/white thinking, they tend to overdo things, they fail to pick up on social cues, are narcissistic and self involved, have high anxiety (which also interferes with cognition) and they lack a certain degree of self awareness – failing to see why things go awry. Some of this is directly related to injury, some is response to injury and some is a kind of psychological genie that is let out of bottle and brings with him/her a bunch of ‘issues’. Most people with BI really do have psychological problems – whether they are BI or from deep feelings about family dynamics it doesn’t matter (as most neuropsychs will tell you) – and the blindness and stubbornness and rigidity of Bi makes it hard for survivors to avail themselves of psychotherapy. Cognitive therapies help identify problem areas and then help empower the survivor to learn how to pre-empt these things and address them, how to prioritize, how to stop bullshitting oneself, how to restore (or build) a healthy psychological self. People who don’t do this will end up in depression or struggling in relationships, vocation etc – they will struggle in social situations and feel overwhelmed and lost. It is very easy for a BI person to deceive themselves. The problem is they aren’t ALWAYS BSing themselves – sometimes they are very insightful and do have a reasonable perspective but they have to learn to pay attention to their responses, their thoughts, their feelings and know that their injury may sometimes lead them off course in their thinking and rationalization.

    It’s taken me a long time to realize that I was not appearing and acting as the kind of person that I wanted to be – I felt like I was but I was not. However it is difficult to communicate this to a survivor – most professionals are actually awful at it – pedantic, hoity-toity, self righteous and demeaning. To me the hardest part of the injury is this – this taking over of me by this person who is so much like me but just a step off in a few ways – and those differences can make me self centered, odd, indifferent, excessive, overbearing, easily caught in loops, demanding, draining to others, tiresome and unable to recognize when I need help. The last one is the worst – I can bang my head against a wall a million times before I realize what I am doing and stop.

    I say these things because its important to understand that we can’t – even when we are healthy and un-injured – see ourselves clearly. BI changes you, it’s not just a rational reason for why you have trouble hearing people or following directions, it alters you and you have to fight hard to undo that – if you can. I am only now BEGINNING to understand how hard it has been to be close to me – not that I was mean or bad or evil or anything – I was just BI’d – and that is hard for me and hard for those around me. I actually have to practice paying attention to others, keeping some of my fears and thoughts to myself, thinking about others feelings, how to fit in, speak less – how to get back to some of the things I used to do with no thought but must now be very careful to attend to.

    Go talk to your neuropsych and ask them what they think. And hopefrully they will remind you who you are – really.

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  2. Hm. Yes, the more I think about it, the less inclined I am to just drop out. There have been times in the past when I have really disagreed with my neuropsych on specific life questions (relating to class and age differences, I believe). And I didn’t ditch them, back then – though I was tempted. Overall, they have helped me a great deal, and I need to keep that in mind. Also, I do need a live person to help me sort through things. Aside from them, I have no one in my real life who is willing or able to help me with the things I need help with. This blog is helpful, but when it comes to getting real-world help, my neuropsych is pretty much it.

    So, I’ll hang in there… annoyed, perhaps, but still showing up.

    Thanks for the feedback.

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  3. PS. I DO still strongly recommend that you mention to them that you are frustrated with them – you need to figure that piece out – is it them, you, time for a change, an area you don’t want to look at, or some kind of psychodynamic of the neuropsych (they are people too) – but whatever it is this is part of the process of improving your interaction and your evaluation of situations. I absolutely disagreed with my np at times – but in reflection I’d say that they saved my life. I was unable to return to that place after I stopped (not necessarily by my choice) – I have another person now that I sometimes see to help me gain clarity on issues – they are okay so far, but may be what I need right now.

    The key thing for me is that I am slowly acknowledging that there is something that occurs – subtle as it may be – that interferes with my success. It is rooted in bi but impacts me in a variety of ways and expresses itself in the ways I mentioned – social interaction, professional functioning, self awareness, self satisfaction. I have dear friends and once in a while they give me a glimpse of what a ping pong ball I can be.

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