New York Times on: Veterans and Brain Disease

The New York Times has a great article on CTE and the returning servicemembers

Veterans and Brain Disease

He was a 27-year-old former Marine, struggling to adjust to civilian life after two tours in Iraq. Once an A student, he now found himself unable to remember conversations, dates and routine bits of daily life. He became irritable, snapped at his children and withdrew from his family. He and his wife began divorce proceedings.

This young man took to alcohol, and a drunken car crash cost him his driver’s license. The Department of Veterans Affairs diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder, or P.T.S.D. When his parents hadn’t heard from him in two days, they asked the police to check on him. The officers found his body; he had hanged himself with a belt.

That story is devastatingly common, but the autopsy of this young man’s brain may have been historic. It revealed something startling that may shed light on the epidemic of suicides and other troubles experienced by veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His brain had been physically changed by a disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E. That’s a degenerative condition best-known for affecting boxers, football players and other athletes who endure repeated blows to the head. …

Read the rest of the article here >>


Coalition for Concussion Treatment – reblog from The Concussion Blog

Check this out, thanks to the Concussion Blog – could be a really important step forward in treating concussion.

The Concussion Blog

Yesterday I helped launch the #C4CT cause via the blog and twitter and it was nice to see the interest really begin to peak (thanks @SchuttSports, @the_jockdoc  and many others).  As with most movements or introduction of products getting interest is the first thing; now with official press release in hand it is time to explain and get more of us going here.

The hard work of Jack Brewer and Alex Nennig (and probably others) of Brewer Sports International have created this coalition which I believe to be a “best foot forward” approach in not only raising awareness and education of concussions (our number on goal on The Concussion Blog) but has a possibility to stake a claim in treatment of lasting effects of TBI.  I am honored to be asked to be a primary supporter of this cause, although as it catches wild-fire I am hopeful more…

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Re-designing my recovery

Back to the drawing board - sort of

Had a good morning. Woke up early and lay in bed for a little while, then got up and sat and breathed through my 47 breaths. Then I got dressed, did some light exercise, had some coffee and cereal and my vitamins, and then I went out for a walk in the woods.

Things felt different today. Different and easier. I’m back into making lists of what I need to do in the morning and checking the items off as I do them. This is considerably easier for me than trying to keep everything in my brain — it cuts out the processing required to figure out the sequence I need to do things in, and it relieves me of needing to remember if I’ve remembered to do things. I see my list. I know I need to do these things. I check them off. And I’m done. I have successfully handled the little things I need to handle, and that’s that.

And then I can go on to other things to do — things that are more complex and that take more time to think through — and I have more time and energy and available processing, when I don’t have to keep my daily morning routine in my head.

Basic resource allocation, I guess.

During my walk in the woods, I thought a lot about what works for me and what doesn’t, when it comes to my recovery. What works, is when I can break things down into smaller pieces and handle them one at a time. What doesn’t work, is when issues I’m having are lumped together in a general batch of sensations and experiences, and I’m expected to just deal with them as a complex whole.

That just doesn’t work for me. And it seems like my neuropsych expects me to do it that way. But I just can’t. That’s not how my mind works. I’m a systems thinker. I think about things in terms of the different component parts, and then I look at how all those component parts relate to one another. I have to engineer my life, not just roll through it. I have to break things down into manageable pieces and taken them one at a time, not just approach something as a complex whole, and negotiate my way through things.

Negotiation is not something I’ve ever liked to do. I don’t even like the concept. It implies that people don’t actually know what they want — or they’re not willing to give other people what they want, without a fight. Negotiations tend to confuse and frustrate me, and I can’t see why I should have to re-think everything I’ve settled in my mind, in order to “relate” to another person. I hate that sh*t. It makes me feel stupid and slow and uncertain. When I make a decision, it’s after extended thought and consideration, not just some snap thing that will be worked out in future talks. When I make a decision, it’s non-negotiable. Period. I don’t want to finesse my way through life, having everything in flux and indecision. That’s so annoying. It just reeks of indecision and incompleteness.

But enough about what I don’t like/want. I need to communicate to my NP (somehow) that their encouraging me to just roll with things and not write things down and not develop routines in my day, is not helping me. It is so far from helping me, it’s crazy. It adds stress to my life and confusion to my days, and when I think about it, I’m not sure they appreciate the complexity of the work I do. I don’t think they realize how many balls in the air I have, or how many moving pieces I need to track. That’s my new goal — to communicate to them what I’ve got on my plate, so they can start helping me, instead of undermining me. Even if it’s out of optimism and a faith in me that I “can do it”, it’s still a problem. And their approach is actually getting in my way.

It’s all a balance, really — I know I should not go off the deep end with my list-making. And I know I should not fixate on the minutiae of my work, but there are a ton of details that I need to cover, as part of my job, and having them tell me that I shouldn’t get too hung up on details is pretty counter-productive in my situation.

So, I have to make some changes. And I have to make it clear to my NP what my situation really is. I’m not keeping up in my work. It’s impacting my my productivity. It is impacting my earnings, which is not good.

And it’s got to change.

Most of all, I need to start taking a break in the middle of my sessions. I get there on Tuesdays after driving through evening rush-hour traffic, which throws me off. Then I get tired, half-way through the sessions. I should really start taking a 5-minute break in the middle, because I’ve noticed (for a long time, but never mentioned) that I start to zone out and I start to fake my way through the last half of the sessions. It’s much harder work than I let on, and I’m usually wiped out by the time I get home. I’m not sure they’re aware of all of this. I present extremely well. I wouldn’t be able to get through life as well as I do, if I didn’t. But I’ve got my routine down, I know what communicates “I’m really with it” to people, and I’ve had decades of practice skating through, hoping I’ll remember later (and figure out) what people are saying to me… then I just don’t.

It’s all a patchwork, really. A patchwork of lucidness and confusion, of clarity and fog. And my main challenge at this point is figuring out how to distinguish between the two — and communicate that to my NP when they need to know.

Part of the issue is that I’m a bit slow on the uptake, and sometimes I just don’t feel like being that way. I want the conversation to just flow, just move along. I don’t want to have to stop and get clarification on one idea before moving on to the next. It feels stilted and halting, and I dislike how it makes me feel, so I just go along and let the conversation go where it will.

Which is fine, if I don’t have to actually understand what’s being discussed. And is fine if the other people don’t need to know that I need more time to think things through. But in the case of my neuropsych, it doesn’t make any sense for me to persist in this.

It’s really getting in the way.

So, I’m going to have to change it up a bit and really stick to my guns about what I need. I can’t keep being dismissed and told I really don’t have any problems, when I’m spending my life feeling so sure I know what’s going on, only to realize later that it’s just not so. I can’t afford to keep casting about. I’ve got to get back down to things and revise how I approach my issues and the help I’m getting.

All in all, I think this is actually a positive step. I’m realizing where I need help, and I’m going about getting it. Which is good.

I just wish it didn’t feel so … dreadful.

Well, onward. It’s all a process, I guess. At least I’m moving in some direction…

It’s all part of it

So, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time today working on my new focus, and it’s good. It’s pretty invigorating, and it gives me plenty to think about. Good stuff.

I’ve also been thinking about some of the really bone-headed things I’ve done and said lately. I haven’t been at my best, I believe, and it bothers me a bit.

But then again, I am human, so I can’t be too hard on myself.  At some point, I need to cut myself some slack and just live my life. And try to enjoy it as best I can, because you never know what’s coming down the pike.

I talked to one of my siblings tonight – a close friend of theirs just passed away after being diagnosed with cancer about a year ago. They left two teenagers and a devoted spouse behind. Weird and stupid — ocular melanoma. I’d never heard of such a thing. But there it is.

And I found out a distant cousin who I used to be really good friends with as a kid also has melanoma. Stage 4, I think. I need to get in touch — one last time? I’m a little conflicted about it, because I have a really strong, positive association with this cousin of mine, but I cannot remember very much about them at all. I know that we were supposed to be great friends, when we were younger, but I just cannot remember that much about them, aside from one time when I visited and stayed over. I remember their house being very bright. And we did have a lot of fun. But that part of my life seems to be fading away, as though it never happened.

It makes me wonder if my memory is going, or if I really knew this cousin that well, to begin with. I have a lot of cousins, and most of them I never got along with, but this one… well, they were different. But now I can’t remember much about them, other than that I have a really strong positive response whenever I think of their name.

It’s weird. I would ask my parents, but they get so freaked out if I can’t recall things they think  should remember, and I just don’t feel like going there. I may have to, to find out more about this cousin, but I’m not looking forward to it. I may just have to put my pride aside and go ahead and ask. Like I have to put my pride aside and ask my neuropsych to start helping me with things I’ve not discussed much with them at all — like the intermittent fog I get into, where my thinking is completely jumbled and turned around and I can’t follow… so I just muddle through things and hope for the best. I’m kind of tired of muddling and hoping. I’d like to be able to keep some semblance of clarity for longer than a few weeks at a time. It’s like I cycle through these “fog banks” where all of a sudden, things are not making sense. I can smile and nod and repeat back what people say to me, but it’s not making a whole lot of sense.

Speaking of making sense, it’s time for me to get to bed. Yes, it’s Saturday night and yes, I had a nap this afternoon, but I am still bushed. And tomorrow is another day.

The point of all of this is to say that whatever happens, whatever comes up, no matter how uncomfortable or comfortable things may be, it’s all part of it. It’s ALL part of it.




Try again today

Yesterday was a pretty productive day, all the hurdles notwithstanding. I took care of some things that I needed to take care of, I solved some things I needed to solve, and I discovered a new direction I can go with my career — I’ve been reading some industry news, looking for an area that has good growth potential, as well as a need, AND which matches my past experience.

I think I’ve found something, and it’s pretty exciting. The litmus test for this is — is this something I would want to do on my own, even if I weren’t getting paid to do it? And is it something I can do on my own and build up more skill and experience and demonstrated results, which I can show to future employers and clients?

This has passed both tests, and it builds on areas where I had big strengths in the past. Those strengths have not been compromised by my TBI like my ability to learn new programming languages has.

I spent some time last night practicing, and it felt really good. Smooth. Like I wasn’t even working — which is how it feels with me when I am doing something that comes naturally to me. And I find it fascinating. It’s part art, part science, and it’s something I can do primarily with computers, versus having to do everything with people.

People are really starting to annoy me, and I could seriously use a break from them, rather than continue to chafe and grouse and get on people’s nerves.

That part of my life is just working my last friggin’ nerve.

But enough of that — I want to focus on what’s good.

What’s good, is that i made my morning prep checklist last night, I printed it out this morning, and I am 5 for 6 on the items i need to do each morning to prepare properly for my day. The one item didn’t happen because I woke up too early, I got all bent out of shape, and i started the day with an argument – at 5 a.m.

Crappy way to start the day, but then things got talked through and it’s better now.

When I think about it, if I had done that first item on my list — sit and breathe — I probably wouldn’t have had the argument. Just something to remember for tomorrow. And days after that, as well.

Anyway, each moment is another chance. Each day is a new set of opportunities. And I think I might have a plausible route of escape from this madness I’m caught up in at work, right now.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. I can sorta kinda see it, but I can also feel the cool breeze on my face.

Life goes on, and so do I.

Progress this week?

This week has been a mixed bag. On the one hand, I have gotten a lot done. On the other, I have not been exercising as much as I should, and I have not been sleeping as much as I should. I’m having a bit of a breakdown, actually, with a lot of things feeling much bigger to me than they are, the job situation getting on my nerves… everything getting on my nerves.

I’m just not feeling right about a lot of things. On the other hand, I know for a fact that I’m thinking and working better than I was a year ago, and I know for a fact that I will continue to improve.

I seem to have reached a plateau of sorts. Or maybe I’m coming off a plateau. I’m not sure.

All I know is, I really need a break. I could probably use a vacation.

Yeah. I’ll have to see what I can do about that.

The key is thinking it through

Well, I got about 8 hours of sleep last night, which is great. I had meant to sleep on Sunday, but I got busy so I never got the chance. On the bright side, I figured out how to finish something I started a number of years ago, and haven’t been able to finish, for some strange reason.

I’ve got paperwork I have to complete for my insurance company, so they can properly adjust some of my old records. I have not been able to finish it, for some reason — I think it’s just seemed way too complicated for me to complete. It’s not… hundreds and thousands of people do this paperwork every day, but I haven’t been able to do it. I just haven’t been able to figure it out.

But now I have. It just came to me, one day — all of a sudden, it stopped being an impossible problem. Like the window fixture that was hanging off a loose nail for more than a year, that I would just look at, then walk away from. Strangely, it seemed like an impossible task. Then one day, I just got the step stool and a hammer, and I fastened the fixture in place the way it was supposed to be.

When I got down from the step stool, I felt this strange combination of elation and dismay — on the one hand, I was overjoyed that I’d figured out how to do it. On the other hand, I was a little dismayed that something so simple should have taken me so long to figure out. Over a year, this fixture was hanging loose. It took me a year to figure out how to get the step stool, climb up, and nail the hardware in place.

Was I really that damaged? I had to wonder.

Anyway, this paperwork thing is a little like that. I had an epiphany the other day, where I suddenly realized how I could handle it. And now I just need to go to the motor vehicle registry and turn in the simple form that I couldn’t figure out how to fill out. I have tried reaching out to my neuropsych for help with things like this, but they tell me I don’t have a problem with them, and when I announce with glee that I figured something out that everybody should know how to do, they just look at me like there’s something wrong with me.

Yeah, no kidding. It’s weird, how truly simple things can just not get done… but complicated things like finding and changing jobs can come pretty easily to me.

But of course it’s the simple things that are the most common and the most necessary in life, so I guess I just have to keep going with it.

The main thing for me, these days, is thinking things through. Figuring out how to get things done — really investing the time in walking through the steps I need to follow. I tend to get so overwhelmed in the course of everyday life that when I get home at night — or over the weekends — I just need to take a break from the focused activities and recharge my batteries with some unstructured activities (like naps and reading). But then I don’t get everything done that I was intending to.

Oh, well.

I guess I’m working on my everyday living skills… figuring out, again and again, how to take care of things that need to be taken care of. I sat down yesterday and walked through my finances for the rest of the year, using a spreadsheet to show how much money I would be bringing in with my job and counting how much I was going to be spending. The rest of the year looks pretty good, and I’m going to be paying off some old debts early, in fact, so I’ll have more money in my pocket in another few months. It feels good to work through all that, to think it through and see what’s coming down the pike.

Even if I didn’t get those little tasks done that I’d intended to over the weekend, I got something really great done that I’d been needing to do — calculating my personal finances and figuring out a good way to go with my life.

And it’s good.

Getting my music together

Get up... get down.

So, I’m downloading the new iTunes so I can update my music on my iPhone (it’s company-issued, and I’d probably not even bother with it if I didn’t have it for work – these things add way more complication to my life than I care to add, myself).

I spent a fair amount of time yesterday collecting music I’ve got scattered in different places into one location on my computer, so I can get to it more easily. I had planned to take care of some work-work tasks, but I used up the time I was intending to spend on getting work-work done, so I didn’t get those handful of little tasks done yesterday. Then I ended up sleeping all afternoon after I got back from my social excursion and errands, which is exactly what I needed. I didn’t reach the goal I’d set for myself, but I don’t care. I needed to sleep. And I needed to take care of myself. So no, I didn’t get those tasks done. Today is another day, and I’ve got another 24 hours till I need to be in the office again.

I got together with my old friends yesterday — the folks I used to hang out with now and then before I fell in 2004. I must admit, I didn’t do a very good job of keeping up with them when I knew them — they were more acquaintances to me — friends of friends who would get together for coffee and just hang out every week or so… in a kind of rolling group. You never knew who was going to be there, or what you were going to talk about. And sometimes the antics got a little obnoxious, so I didn’t get really invested in that “gang”. Ironically, they always thought of me as “one of them”, which I found out yesterday.

After I fell and smacked my head in 2004, I really had no use for anyone, and I withdrew into a cocoon of trying to figure stuff out. Nothing made sense to me, and I couldn’t seem to find any answers. So I isolated. When I started reaching out for help, I stopped isolating so much. I started talking to doctors and then to friends about my situation. Then, when I found out how hard it was to talk to people about TBI, I withdrew again and just tried to keep my act together and figuring things out for myself.

When I found my NP, I found someone I could talk to about my situation, but I still didn’t reach out much to friends. Dealing with my TBI was such a big part of my life, that if someone wasn’t actively involved in some sort of recovery, I didn’t have much to say to them or much reason to interact with them.

Yesterday was quite eye-opening for me, and I think it’s brought a lot of things to light with me. Namely, that before I started seeing the neuropsych, I was pretty insular to begin with, and there were a lot of things that kept me from really interacting with others. I’ve gotten hit on the head so many times over the years that I guess I just got used to keeping to myself and staying quiet so people wouldn’t realize how clueless I was and how long it takes me to catch up. It’s that “Better to keep silent and have people think you a fool, than open your mouth and confirm it” strategy. Which tends to work, because when you’re quiet, people think you know something they don’t. They rarely guess the opposite.

Anyway, yesterday when I got to the meet-up place, there were a bunch of folks there who really welcomed me warmly. It didn’t seem to matter to them that I had been under a rock for all those years. They were still happy to see me. I have definitely changed, since I last saw these folks and I could tell that they could see it also — I have changed for the better, because I’m a hell of a lot more interactive than I ever was before, and I’m a lot more open and involved in discussions than I ever thought I could be. And in the process of being more interactive, I discovered that folks in this loosely affiliated group have been going through all kinds of crap that makes a person wonder if they’re a magnet for hardship.

One has been having food allergy issues and has been having cognitive issues, like forgetting words and losing track of sentences and being wiped out all the time with fatigue.

Another went through a bunch of job changes and is still reeling from the roller-coaster.

Another quit drinking and has been going to AA.

Others have had deaths in their families and are struggling to deal with all sorts of family stuff.

Another is going through a nasty divorce, with their soon-to-be-ex threatening to have them arrested over “any old thing.”

Others are either going through menopause or have gone, and they’re “all over the map” as they describe it.

Interesting bunch of folks, to say the least. So clearly I’m not alone when it comes to having to struggle with a lot of stuff.

I would think, from reading the list of “adventures” above, that this would be a pretty maudlin group who sit around and feel sorry for themselves. On the contrary, it was a pretty good time. We had some good laughs. I said nothing about my TBI, but I did mention the job situation, and a lot of folks could relate. In the process of talking to folks, I realized — even more clearly — that many of my troubles from the past month have been somewhat self-inflicted, coming as much from my wounded pride and frustrations with management and the stress of the short timeframe for such a high profile project, as from any circumstances outside of me. I haven’t made things any easier for myself, and I really got that loud and clear, hearing folks talk about their own situations in passing, and listening to me grouse about mine.

The nice thing was, nobody seemed to judge me for my frustration, and they just kind of nodded when I realized – out loud – that I was just feeling sorry for myself, and I needed to get a grip. And they talked about their own difficulties with a humanity that we could all relate to.

The consensus at the end of our little gathering was that we’re all just human, and that we often don’t make things any easier for ourselves… but we’re works in progress, so we’ll just keep trying. I was really surprised at how together everyone seemed in the face of some pretty heavy stuff. But maybe it was the heaviness that forced everyone to put things in perspective. And maybe it was the extra 8 years or so, since I’d last seen them, that basically grew us up.

What I took away, for myself, was the realization that I’m really not alone, and that I can actually get together with people whose lives are different from mine, but who have the same kinds of challenges and the same degrees of difficulty to deal with. I also saw – right in front of me – that everyone is dealing with something, but that something doesn’t have to be the ONLY thing in your life. And no matter how screwed up things may be, you can often find something redeeming in your experience to share with others. The individual details may not even matter all that much, when it comes down to it. The important thing is to find the common ground we all share — and just be human with each other.

In retrospect, we didn’t really go into a lot of personal detail about things, and the rough patches we tended to gloss over. But we didn’t cover them up. They were just background information behind our conversations about sports and music and our families and our jobs and our pastimes, and what we’d been doing with ourselves lately.

So, it looks like I’ve found a real-life group of folks I can relate to, which is huge. I may get together with them again next week, or I may not. It depends on my schedule, but the important thing is — I know they’re there if I need them. They may turn out to be totally different next week, or the week after, but at least I had a good experience yesterday. It takes the pressure off my working relationship with my NP, because they’re no longer the ONLY real-live person I can talk to about my life and what’s going on in it. I can’t have my NP be my only in-person source of support and feedback. They’re good for some things, but not all things, and I’ve been needing to reach out for years, now. Even before my last TBI, I needed to reach out — on my own — to others, but I just never really did.

Now I have. And it feels pretty damn’ good.

Now, let me restart my computer and resynch my music.


It’s not *always* TBI

It's "knot" always TBI 😉

Sometimes I’m just a pain in the ass.

Sometimes I just feel sorry for myself and I’m looking for pity from anyone who has it to offer.

Sometimes I’m just ill-behaved.

TBI certain doesn’t help these. But it’s not necessarily the cause.

Oh, well — time to just get on with it.

Back to balance

Mix and match

So, I got up this morning and thought about how I’m going to manage my day.

I listed a number of relatively small things I need to do for work (that I promised other people), that I didn’t get a chance to do this past week. I’m going to take care of them this morning. I didn’t get the chance during the week, partly because I kept losing focus, partly because I had visits from overseas colleagues who were in town for the week, and partly because Something Very Big broke yesterday afternoon when I was going to complete those last items — and I spent the last two hours of the day scrambling to put it back together before the business partner started getting angry emails from people.

The good news is, we got it taken care of, and by the time I left at 5:15, the Very Big Thing was completely fixed — and is now better than it had been before. So, the “emotional payoff” of that was doing good work with my coworkers who also stepped up at the last minute to work things out.

Teamwork. Good stuff.

It’s interesting — I didn’t get to see my friends yesterday, but I’m going to catch up with them later this morning and have a cup of coffee together. The former colleague I met with earlier this past week has also followed up with an email, and we’ll probably stay in touch, if I can manage to make the time for them. I really need to make the time. They’re involved in some important work that needs volunteer contributors, and I’m seriously thinking about getting involved in that work. I need to reconnect with people in a big way — I’ve been so blocked off in my own little world, that I don’t have nearly enough contact with others.

Part of it is fatigue. Just going to work everyday and doing what I do can be pretty exhausting. By the end of each day, I’m pretty well tapped. I think a lot of it is stress — getting all worked up over this, that, and the other thing… and not feeling like I’m actually able to connect with other people, in part because of the stress and fatigue. It’s like a self-fulfilling situation, where I feel tired and worn out, so I don’t connect with others because I’m so busy trying to maintain and keep my balance. And that adds to the stress, because I feel incredibly alone, and everything takes on a much more intense feel to it. Stress and isolation add to stress and isolation.

But when I can manage to spend time with people — like having lunch with a bunch of folks yesterday at work — and I can find a way to really find some common ground, then things get a lot easier. It’s less stressful, and I don’t feel like I’m doing everything myself.

Isolating is a big part of what keeps me down and in trouble. By “in trouble” I mean, actually living like all there is, is trouble… marinating in it… soaking up that biochemical bath of stress and distress. When I isolate, I get all up in my head and get stuck listening to my broken brain telling me all sorts of interesting — and not very accurate — tidbits about who I am and what I’m all about. And the more that broken brain lectures me on what a loser I am, and how I’ll never amount to anything, and all the people who treated me like jerks and pushed me aside and made me feel like a useless piece of crap over the years were absolutely right about me — I’m not much good for anything, now am I?

And it makes me crazy. Literally. I end up going off in hairbrained outbursts about this, that and the other thing. I get defensive over nothing. I get aggressive. I get all kinds of ways that don’t really help me at all. In large part because I isolate and don’t reach out for help.

But I’m reaching out this morning — I’m going to catch up with these friends. I don’t expect to spend the time with them complaining about everything. I just want to have a pleasant conversation with some people who have been good friends in the past. I’m not looking for a therapy session, just a good time of hanging out and remembering that I’m human.

Yeah, I’ve spent way too much time by myself. And I’ve been spending way too much time at work. I need to find a decent balance, here, that strengthens me and keeps me relatively sane.

I did some more lifting this morning. I didn’t really feel like it, but I did something. I’ve been really tired, and I don’t want to injure myself, so I took it a little easy. But I did something. 15 minutes on the exercise bike, followed by my leg lifting balance exercises. Thinking about balance, I’ve had a number of people tell me that doing these leg lifts isn’t going to improve my balance. But strength and physical ability plays into balance in a very big way, and I’ve noticed a marked improvement over how well I can stay upright while I’m going through my motions. So, it seems to be helping in some way. I think just having the improved strength in my stabilizing muscles must be helping a bit. The sense of vertigo may not go away entirely, but at least my body will be better able to keep itself upright, than if I allow myself to slide into the land of the doughy couch potato.

I’ve got to get my game back on. Really. Truly. I feel like the past year has seen a lot of progress, and I’m far more clear than I have been in the past, but maybe that’s working against me a bit. I seem to be slacking off in my daily attention to details. A couple of years back, when I was really struggling, I was really working at keeping myself in line — and I was 15 pounds lighter and a whole lot stronger than I am now. Over the past couple of years, I’ve slacked off and taken to relaxing a lot more than I ever did before. But something is not working. Something is missing. That something, I think, is the edge I used to have. I’ve got to get my edge back and be able to move forward as I was in the past. Oh, hell, I’d settle for being able to maintain the progress I made in the past, because I feel like I’m losing that. And this does not make me happy.

Yeah, time to step things up. One thing I learned from this past month is that I can push myself and perform. I will not necessarily buckle, if I have a plan and if I keep at things consistently. I don’t know why I don’t KEEP knowing that, because I keep relearning it over and over again. But anyway, I have learned that I can push myself and get where I’m going, even if it is hard and painful along the way. Not everything has to be hard and painful, but if it is… oh, well. It’s not going to kill me, and it will probably make me stronger in the process.

That’s what I have to focus on. The fact that I can — and will — be able to make it to the end of the road in one piece. Even if I do act out along the way. Even if I do become a royal pain in the ass to everyone around me. Surprise – I’m human. Imagine that…

Anyway, when it comes to balance, I think it’s an inside and an outside job for me. It’s about finding my equilibrium… and not losing touch with the outside world. Friends of mine “tend and befriend” when they are in distress. I isolate and push everyone away. That can change. It’s got to change.

One of the things that’s got to change is how I perceive my work and my activities and what I do with myself. I keep making myself out to be a loser in my own mind — in that respect my NP is correct — and that sucks all the air out of my sails. I tend to dwell on the “problems” I see and try to fix all of them, instead of realizing that there’s another side to this that doesn’t look anything like a problem. It looks like stuff worked out. It looks like I took a bad situation and got it to work in my — and others’ favor. I’m not doing anybody any favors by wallowing in my obsession with What’s Wrong(!) and I miss out on some of the really positive stuff about my experiences that can keep me going, instead of holding me back.

It’s fine to be looking for ways to improve and advance, but why do it at the expense of my sanity? Black and white thinking. Rigidity. Orthodoxy. Thinking that this is how it is, and it will never change.

Where’s the balance in that?

It’s not there. Clearly, it’s not there. And when I get stuck in that thinking, I go down a black hole that has me convinced that everything is irretrievably screwed up — and then some. And I despair. And I become even more rigid and orthodox and resentful and hostile, etc. Sigh.

But when I manage to get myself out of that dark place — usually by having some decent contact with another human being — things change. I change. It gets better. And all is not lost.

I the spirit of regaining my balance, it’s time for me to take care of the few leftover items from work, this past week. I actually do love my work and I really like the folks I work with. The main problem is that there is so incredibly much to do, so if I can just take a few hours and get on top of a few of the things I promised folks this past week, so much the better.

Onward… Just keep going…