You idiot, it is NOT all in my head

Some things are NOT all in our imaginations

No, it’s not YOU I’m talking to. I would never call you an idiot — and I believe you probably would never tell me that my problems are “all in my head”. But that’s neither here nor there….

My little one- line outburst is really directed towards all the people out there who think that magically I can come up with a new concept of myself in my head, and strive towards this new definition of who I want to be, completely transforming my life in the process.

Good Gawd, how trite. And deeply narcissistic. Like I have all the answers to all my ills. LIke I’m the sole inventor of my life and the sole solver of all my woes. Who came up with this? What is wrong with people?

I’m really grousing about my neuropsych, who has shown some pretty weird colors, lately — they’ve started going down this road of telling me that I can make up my mind to have any kind of experience I want to have — which is true to a point. But they seem to think that I’ve “invented” this whole conceptual framework for my life that is deeply flawed and based on childhood misunderstandings (in part because of my TBIs when I was a kid) that never got corrected along the way. Okay, fine. I can see that to a certain point. But now they’ve started in on this trip about me not really having any issues that I can’t overcome.

That’s not the issue. I know I can overcome a whole lot. The thing is, I need to address my issues for what they are, and I need to come up with realistic, common-sense approaches to things like: being all over the map emotionally, violent outbursts, impulse control issues, sleep and fatigue issues, balance stuff, my difficulty starting – and completing – tasks, and my thinking NOT AT ALL being where I want it to be. I really need to deal with these things, but they treat my attention to them like I’m perseverating on imagined difficulties.

If only they knew how much I just muddle through. I’ve been muddling more and more, over the past year or so, because they have not been open and receptive to my descriptions of how my life is, and I have to make do in the face of that denial. I have to get by somehow. So I’ve taken to faking it a lot, like I used to do. And I’m pretty damned tired of just muddling through.

I think I may need to find a new neuropsych — someone who can help me deal with basic logistics and keep things really, really simple. I can’t stand the complicated head games that my current NP plays at times — they try to get me thinking along new lines and try to get me to “embrace a completely different paradigm”… which both confuses and irritates me, and leaves me feeling like I’ve been a little trampled, because I never feel like I really get it. I just smile and nod, but afterwards, I feel like I’ve been led down some primrose path, and I’ve gotten all cut up on the thorns.

I never made much of this before, probably because my NP is just about my only source of support who actually knows about my TBIs and doesn’t treat me like I’m brain damaged beyond repair. But now this cavalier approach to the challenges in my life is starting to be a problem. Because years have passed… and although I have come a tremendously long way, and I continue to improve, I still have plenty of issues I need to deal with — and they are NOT made up in my imagination.

Okay, it’s fine if they believe that I can overcome just about anything I put my mind to. Maybe I can. But what’s unsettling is that they have this intense fervor around that belief that reminds me a little bit of the evangelists I grew up with, and that sends up warning flares with me. They sound like they’re repeating a party line of some kind, and they refuse to entertain any critical thought or observation about what they say to me. It’s like they’ve got it All Figured Out, and anyone who disagrees with them is just fooling themself.

I do realize that they were helped a great deal over the years by that unshakeable faith, and they’ve probably helped a lot of people, but at the same time, that orthodoxy is troubling to me. Any sort of unquestioning adherence to a certain conceptual framework — be it religion or science or sports or politics — makes me nervous and distrustful. And I strongly dislike having my opinions and experience dismissed and disrespected, because I’m apparently not “enlightened enough” to get it.

Oh, Jesus Christ. (Sorry, if you’re a believer – I just had to vent)

This just pisses me off. I don’t have all kinds of extra time to spend being told I’m lying to myself about my situation, that I’ve “created this reality” in my mind, and I can “uncreate it” too. I have pain. I have fatigue. I have confusion. I have emotional ups and downs that are intense and disruptive and job-threatening. I just got my “raise” and it’s just barely over a 1% increase. I know I should be glad that I have a job and that I got a raise at all. But if I’d kept my shit together for the past year, I’m sure I would have gotten more. I have all sorts of little shitty TBI-related things that get in my way in the course of each day, and I work my ass off constantly to overcome them. I’m not making things harder for myself because I feel like I need to suffer — or somesuch. And I’m not happy with my level of performance at work and in life — but my NP seems quite content to watch me marinate in this unwanted mediocrity.

Strange. Bizarre. It’s just gotten weird, lately. Maybe the month away from them let me normalize on my own terms. Maybe not having their words in my head every week was a good thing. In any case, I am suddenly getting really sick and tired of this person, and I need to find a new way to either get them off this pop psychology jag, and onto a more simple and straightforward approach to helping me live my life… or I’ll have to find someone else to work with.

It’s a shame, really. I was hoping they could just be a normal neuropsych and talk me through the logistics of my everyday. I guess everything is a mixed bag — there are no absolute goods and evils in my world. The strongest among us also have great weaknesses. But is it too much to ask that someone with a ton of professional training might be immune to repeating self-improvement platitudes that are so common to every “consciousness raising” movement that’s come up in the past 40 years, that they sound like a spokesperson for yet another multi-levelmarketing-driven self-improvement program?

Yeah, I’m exasperated. And I’m a little nervous. Because if I split from this NP, I’m kind of on my own. And I don’t know when/if I’m going to find the help I need to get by.

I guess I’ll just have to have my supper, get a good night’s sleep, and do my best in the morning. I don’t have to make any decisions right now.

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2 thoughts on “You idiot, it is NOT all in my head

  1. BB -

    First I don’t know your NP so I can only consider this from conjecture…

    1. NO ONE likes anyone to tell them ‘how they should think’ – and people with BI dislike this even more than your average bear. There is always a strong reaction to others telling them – you should, or do this etc etc.
    2. Your NP’s approach sounds like it is following a CBT approach – which is a good approach, especailly with BI. The notion is that you fall into negative patterns or destructive (or circular) pattterns of thinking. You have to CONSCIOUSLY break out of those patterns so that you do not fall into them over and over – and end up asking yourself, yet once more, jeeez, how did my life fall apart.
    3. SOME of that pattern stuff comes from BI – that is there are patterns in thinking that seem to be typical of BI – impulsiveness, scatter, resistance to change, motivational issues, rigid thinking, etc. It’s kind of like the brain goes into a damage mode that does anything it can to avoid change. Maybe its scared.
    4. It is VERY VERY VERY hard to see this in oneself. There is damage in BI that causes lack of self awareness in a very direct way (like not realizing you have lost your right leg) but I have seen EVERYONE with BI struggle with self-awareness. Now, its true that most people experience it to some degree, even without BI – but when you have a BI its like you can’t even see when you are being rude, or you have memory issues or whatever.
    5. I don’t think your NP would believe (but I could be wrong) that you can change in a day or a week, it takes a lot of practice to change thinking patterns, but it can be done and is vital. Sometimes you have to get at the root of the problem – not WHY but just recognize which pattern is behind all this. A lot of times it is shame, guilt, fear, etc.
    6. I do believe that even the best NP can’t QUITE get BI – at least some of the time, but then I don’t ‘get’ cancer, and a lot of other things too. We do the best we can with trying to understand and it’s to your advantage to try and communicate when you think it matters. Not to defend yourself, not to fight back but to gain clarity. For example I have had to have a lot of physical therapy and the PT has had to work with me – does this hurt, HOW does it hurt, does this help, what are your feeling, and we adjust each time. My response is not to disqualify his approach but to find the RIGHT approach with the same goal, to repattern the way I walk or use my arm or leg so that I don’t have pain.

    PS. While exercise is GOOD it will not address your vestibular issues. They are PROCESSING issues – there are a series of exercise you can do to improve this processing. For example walk slowly down a corridor turning your head from left to right, trying to stay in a straight line. BE CAREFUL – this will make you sick at first. Also sitting and looking at a playing card taped to a wall while turning your head and keeping your eyes on the card, ditto on a bike. Plus doing sensory integration – swimming with eyes closed, biking outside. Many other things too.

  2. No, you didn’t create the injuries or the situation. I’m not a neuropysch but I think he might be trying to get you to focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t? When I work with depressed people, I work on how they view the world. It gets skewed negative by the process of depression. Your np might be thinking along similiar lines. How we view the world does impact our moods and beahviors. And so does TBI. My moods and anxiety changed after the TBI. Whether it was the physical changes of the injury itself, or my reactions to the consequences, or a mix of both is a matter of question. Keep on!

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