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.


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.

6 thoughts on “The key is thinking it through”

  1. Hi – I figured out a while back that a regular routine can initiate those things that just dont happen eg on saturdays i could be routinised to do ‘home maintenance’, or clean up my desk. It can take ages to get routinised and remember to do it, but it does work (at least some of the time :-)) if so. Something is sitting on the floor looking at me every day and I stare at it, but then suddenly on Sunday “housework day.” there I am picking it up, to my amazement. My self initiation doesnt work, but Ive noticed I can be triggered to do something by an outside force eg reading about home maintenance in a magazine might get me started, if it was a familiar task. The other thing is if i just happen to be focusing on one step of the task, eg picking up the hammer, the rest might follow. Ive just realised this after 11 years. I hope this isnt too much information. You described it so well. people who give useless ‘advice,’ have no idea how hard you are trying and how you can stare at things over and over, its like a kind of paralysis. Sometimes, as you say, you do something else entirely, but like your weekend, it can be good! It’s a different world!


  2. I have a work-around for filling out the complex paperwork the insurance companies need. The injured brain often gets overwhelmed with the number of complex questions and spaces to fill in.
    I use two blank pieces of paper to hide all but the line I am working on. It helps me focus on each question/line without distraction. I put one sheet above the current line and the other below it.
    Otherwise, my brain jumps between the various fields needing answers.


  3. Don’t be so hard on yourself. All the professionals in the world can’t help, when they don’t understand. You are doing the best you possibly can. Sometimes my brain just clicks and I have the answer to a problem that apparently I wasn’t even thinking of … sometimes it’s many years, but in the end it all makes sense. It’s the electrical wiring that’s the problem…not you!


  4. Thanks – yes, I guess I get into this black-and-white thinking that my NP who has helped me a great deal, is going to just know a lot of the things I think they do. At some point, we all need the room to be human, but some of their behavior and attitudes surprises me. Well, just have to keep learning, I guess.


  5. Yes, routine is good. I used to have a pretty good routine, but then I think I just wore myself out, because I didn’t routinely rest, so that undermined me. I just got too tired out, and I couldn’t keep on. I need to get myself back on track with some good routines. And I need to track what I do each day, so I can keep focused. I used to track what I was doing each day, and it was good to see all the progress I was making. Then I just stopped for some reason. And I have had a really hard time getting back.

    But I think I have an idea for how I can get back — rather than writing everything out in my notebook, I’ll just have a checklist that I follow and use very quickly. I think that will work.

    The main thing for me is to not get down on myself if I don’t do these things. I need to focus on what I AM doing, not what I’m not managing to do. That’s tough, but being really hard on myself is just an energy drain.

    Oh, well… onward.


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