From wonderful to weird, and back again…?

Fatigue - What a pain in the ass

It’s been a very strange 48 hours. Must be the holidays — it all just kind of sneaked up on me, I guess. Anyway, I realize “loud and clear” that one thing I need to watch out for is fatigue.

Everything gets better with rest.

Everything gets worse with fatigue.

And I’m not in the mood to spend the holidays in crisis. The past 36 hours have been bad enough.

I’m not sure why it’s hit me so hard, but last night I was having a really hard time, and I just melted down over some stupid crap that was pretty embarrassing, actually. I was over-tired, I was stressed, and I seriously lost it. And for what? Now I’m feeling raw and wrecked, and Thanksgiving dinner is not something I’m looking forward to.

I dread it, actually. All I really want to do is sleep.

Fortunately, I have three days to do that, after today. I have tomorrow off, and then I have the weekend. This *&$^%#^% commute is friggin’ wrecking me, and there’s not much I can do about it, other than try to get to bed at a reasonable hour, which hasn’t been happening as frequently as I need it to. I’m just not managing it, partly because I don’t want to. But I guess I have to, anyway.

I guess I’m really angry about a lot of things that are going on. I’m angry with my employer for pulling a fast one on us, and then treating us like we’re idiots for noticing what they did. I’m angry with myself for giving them the benefit of the doubt. I’m angry with my spouse for never being around on the weekends, but constantly needing to work. I’m angry with the constant stream of promotions and advertisements that are specially designed to put us all in a “buying mood,” and I’m angry with the world for being so ignorant and self-centered and refusing to see that the things they do to others, they equally do to themselves. And that’s no good for anyone.

Meanwhile, my spouse hates and fears me, for being so upset yesterday. I wasn’t aggressive, but based on their past experiences with violent parents and violent partners in the past, they take so many things of the things I say and do out of context — and very much to heart — and there’s nothing I can do to reverse that. All I can do is be kind and patient and indulgent of everything they do and say around me, or they say I’m attacking them. If I try to discuss anything with them to try to just think things through before they do them, they get defensive and tell me I’m finding fault with them and being impossible. It’s like they can’t wait to get away from me. Last night, after we spent a few hours together, they took off and were late coming home. Great. And then I’m a wreck when they get here.And then they think I’m attacking them.

Like I said. Embarrassing. But I’ll be damned if I can do anything about it., when it gets hold of me.

Because I am tired. I am wiped out. I’m not thinking clearly, and my emotions are way off the charts. I just feel so profoundly screwed. The holidays are off to a terrible start, and I’m already behind, scrambling to play catch-up.

Anyway, I had intended to write something hopeful and up-beat about being able to rebound from my weirdness last night. I wish it were that easy. I probably need to just get out more. Do more. Not be tied down as much to my daily routine. I’m feeling incredibly trapped by my job situation – trapped into a commute I detest, trapped in a building that’s part of a “campus” (read, two ugly buildings sandwiched between lots of other ugly buildings and their parking lots), trapped in a workspace that is visually and logistically cramped and has no visual paths to an exit. Trapped and cornered in a space that is not only really loud and really bright, but smells bad and is visually boring. The one bright light is that I got to move my desk so that I’m not in the middle of the room anymore. But it’s a pathetic statement when the best thing that happens to you is you get to move your workspace from an awful place to a less terrible spot.

And that pisses me off.

Which keeps me in a perpetual state of agitation… and it throws off my chemistry, so that I’m not in command my full faculties. The stress is flooding my brain with all sorts of chemical signals to shut down “non-essential” parts of myself, so I can survive by escaping. But I don’t feel like there is any escape, so I’m trapped, and the stress just keeps flooding in, till I feel like I’m going to die, and the best I can hope for is for THE END to be as painless as possible.

The sympathetic nervous system overdrive is just frying me like crazy, and I know it’s no good. It was no good last night, and it’s no good today. I feel like crap, and I don’t know how I’m going to get back to my baseline again. I will, I’m sure — once I get some rest and can just chill for a few days. But right now, things feel pretty screwed up, and I don’t feel very thankful at all.

Probably the most depressing thing about all this is, I know better. But I don’t do better. I know what mechanisms are in place to keep me off-balance, but I can’t manage to do anything about them in a consistent way. And that leaves me feeling even more broken and useless than ever. ‘Cause I’m supposed to be brilliant, right?

Well, sure — but I’m also human. And I need to quit expecting myself to have it all figured out, and expecting myself to be immune to this stuff.

See, this is the thing — I’m not immune. I’m anything, but. In fact, I’m even more susceptible than many, thanks to the role fatigue plays in my life — and I’m also more prone to forgetting it. This fatigue business totally mucks things up, gets my blood boiling, and generally derails me in fine fashion. Which generally sucks for everyone.

So, what to do? I know I need to do a better job of getting rest, as well as getting exercise. I haven’t done as much as I could, with regard to exercise. Part of it is the change in my daily schedule, another part is that I just got tired of doing that every single morning, even though it was good for me. It’s a little like me going off meds that I need to take on a regular basis — I start feeling better, and then I decide I don’t need to do it, anymore. Which is the farthest thing from the truth, of course.

But I do need to do something. I need to shake things up a bit, get out of my old rut, and get myself back on track. I need to drag myself out of this terribly boring state of mind, as well as get myself into a regular sleeping schedule that actually works. I also need to find more things to do with myself, than work. I’m still looking for another job, but now the holidays are upon us, and I don’t feel like dragging myself through all the interviewing drama during the holidays. I need to pace myself, but also find things that appeal to me. Like a hobby of some kind. Or a walk in the woods. I need to find something that both gives me exercise and gets me out and helps me sleep AND gives me a better perspective on life, than just sitting in a car, and then sitting in a cubicle all day… only to sit in my car, and then sit in front of the television all night.

Come to think of it, that’s a lot of sitting. And it’s probably one of the things that’s derailing me. All that inactivity… it’s just killer.

So, it’s time to make some changes. Get up and out and take walks early in the day, before I drag my ass to the office. I can shift my hours to get to work later, so this could work.

I just need to do it. But for the sake of my sanity, as well as everyone around me, I’ve gotta do it.

Speaking of which, now would be an excellent time to do this. 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.

9 thoughts on “From wonderful to weird, and back again…?”

  1. Happy Thanksgiving!!!! I am starting to realize that meds in some cases were wrongfully given. It is interesting to go back and re-read your own charts (if you have access to them) In certain cases, one might find that an MRI was strongly suggested BUT never done : ( Or worst of all, it was strongly suggested the that meds were only making the symptoms worse!!! What a shock that the non-brained injured people did not even follow their own suggestions!!!

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  2. Happy Thanksgiving to you too! When it comes to TBI folks meds are often wrongfully given. Because of our injuries, we may be more sensitive to them, and have strong reactions. But so many medical folks are unaware. I have to constantly advocate for myself to keep from being medicated by docs who just plain forget that I can’t take prednisone, or that I am highly sensitive to other meds. We have to watch out for ourselves, and if we “catch on” after the fact, well, what’s done is done.

    Education of medical folks is so important, and unfortunately, it seems to fall to us — the patients — to take this on.

    Also, keep in mind that medical folks are under scrutiny by insurance companies. Even if an MRI is strongly suggested, the insurance company may discourage it. Or, if the doc has ordered “too many” MRIs in the past, you might be the one person they decide to give a pass to, because they’re afraid of repercussions.

    It’s my understanding that doctors can get “black marks” against them for straying from AMA/big pharma policies. So, we are often the ones who are short-changed.

    Obviously the system is broken, but the only thing I can do about it at this point is just protect myself.

    So, I try my best.

    Happy Thanksgiving — have a great day!

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  3. So a few thoughts –

    The holidays stress everyone – there is such a demand to have ‘the perfect holiday’ – loving family, good food, cheery demeanors and healthy successful lives.

    A perpetual state of bliss is not normal – even more it probably doesn’t exist. So some level of stressing about the holidays is true for all. Now people with BI struggle a bit more with this because they have a harder time compartmentalizing emotional issues – including stress. For them it’s either ‘in control’ or ‘overload’.

    The first and most important thing of all is to recognize the need for sleep. Sleep is not a shameful thing, it is not a sign of weakness – getting sleep is a good thing and shows you are taking care of yourself. Sleep patterns are just that – patterns – and so we can train ourselves (within a boundary) on sleeping well. Your habit is that when you feel overwhelmed or you feel tired you try to go harder, push further. A good good friend of mine, a highly regarded healthcare professional with a brain injury has told me that he has to constantly remind himself that pushing through, keep going, self discipline – all those things he used to get himself through med school and through a 35 year career – they are the WORST things he can do for himself now. And so he has to learn to acknowledge fatigue BEFORE it becomes too much, before it takes days to catch up. If you address sleep and fatigue in small amounts, a nap in the afternoon, early to bed – then you won’t need to spend a weekend in bed – MOST of the time.

    People with BI do have times when they have to shut down; turn out the lights, turn off the tv, the computer, put down the books – and just lie there if needed.
    Yes, activity – a walk, a bike ride, a hike – are helpful and good – put them into your day as part of your regular routine. Park on the far side of the parking lot, join a running club or a bike club – they are always open to new members whatever their level. Having other folks to do things with will encourage you – and if your spouse isn’t interested it takes the pressure off of her. Don’t make it a major event – a regular 20 minute walk every day is better than an hour 2 times a week. Look for routine that works, consistency.

    You know this of course but there is one thing… here’s the key…..

    You will fail….

    Yup – that’s right you will fail.

    And then you need to try it again, and perhaps again and again until it really is a deep habit that you can’t imagine living without.

    This is true of meditation too (I wanted to write you about meditation but I will save that for next time) – after a while meditation seems like a lot of work and effort – and people skip a day, then a few days and then they are out of the habit.

    So be aware that your good intention are good – and that they may take a few tries to get them to the sticking post.

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  4. As a side note – being aware of fatigue, planning for it and incorporating a nap into your day is a way of recognizing a ‘limitation’ – that isn’t to say that it means you are less than or non functional but it means that you understand yourself to know that a 15 minute nap is vital and recharges you and makes you much much much more productive than pushing through

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  5. You must be a mind reader….I couldn’t take everything in that you said, my concentration shuts off, after a few moments, but what I was able to take in?…It was like you read my mind…..I read about the embarassing actions of those on Black Friday….don’t they know that there is never any Uhaul Trailers in a funeral procession?

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  6. I think a lot of us are “on the same wavelength” these days — true about the UHaul trailers. Some stuff just gets out of hand. This brain stuff… never boring for sure. Hang in there and have a great holiday season.

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