Keeping focused

Eyes on the prize

Thank heavens – I actually got eight hours of sleep last night. They weren’t all consecutive – I fell asleep while watching a movie at 9:30, slept till 11:30, then went to bed at midnight and slept till 6:00 a.m. So, 2+6=8, and I’m focusing on that.

I am definitely doing better. I started to obsess about my boss having it out for me, then I started asking Whoever-Or-Whatever to care for and support them, so they can get the answers and the help they need in life. I started to get bent out of shape last night, then I managed to get myself back on track in a good way — and I was able to get to sleep. One of the things I tend to do is “use” agitation and anger to get me going in life — but it backfires on me because I then get all riled and worked up, and then I can’t relax.

But last night I managed to relax. I managed to let it go. And that tells me I’m dong better.

Another thing that tells me I’m doing better, is that I am returning a bunch of library books I checked out last week, intending to brush up on my skills to change jobs. I realized this morning, being rested and refreshed, that I was taking on way too much and casting too wide with my skill-building. I need to stay focused and specialize in the area that I have my greatest strengths, right now — NOT go out and try to acquire new skills where I’m starting from scratch.

I need to be smart about this, and I was not doing that, last week.

So, the library books are going back.

Thank heavens for good sleep. Even one night of increased rest makes such a difference.

So, this weekend I have to laser in on the things I need to do for my job, for my impending change. I have realized that I’ve been frittering away a lot of time doing extraneous things, and I have not done a good job of managing my time or my energy. I have been taking valuable hours out of my weekends to go do things that I could be doing during the week, on my way to or from work. I like to work out at this park that’s a half hour drive from home, but when I do it on the weekends, it takes 2-3 hours out of my mornings to go do it. It’s a least an hour of driving, round trip, plus the hour it takes me to work out, plus any extra time I spend chilling out in the process. I do want to be able to enjoy my life and I do need to work out, but I need to find a better way to use my time, than driving to and from a place that’s actually on my way to work.

Ideally, I will use the time I have on my weekends to do things I can only do at home, and I will do the things that are on the way to work, while I’m on my way to work. I just need to get up a little earlier — or get up at the same time — and focus on incorporating those workouts into my day. They have locker rooms at work, so I can shower and change when I get there. It will work out much better, and I’ll get some really good exercise during the week.

I don’t want to get too obsessive-compulsive about this and “optimize my life” down to every spare second, but some things I’m doing are really sucking up valuable time, and I need to change them.

… Things like getting books out of the library that don’t really serve my primary purpose. I have other books that are specifically about what I need to be studying, not what I suspect I may need to learn.

… Things like driving around and losing time on the road that I could be using in studying and working on my skills, and generally enjoying my life at home while I am able to be at home. If I need to work out, I can do it at home with my weights and exercise bike (which I did this morning).

The poor use of time has got to stop. Poor use of time translates to poor use of energy. So, I’m stopping it.

I can still do all the things I need/want to do. I can still find places for them. I just need to be smarter about how I do it, and I need to understand why.

Yesterday, I sat down and made a list of all the things I need to learn and become familiar with, in order to be a viable job candidate for the positions (and the money) that I want. There is a lot that has happened in my field, since I made this detour into positions that were related to it, but not exactly IT.  And I have some catching up to do. It’s pretty exciting, because a lot of this is stuff I had hoped to be able to do in the past, but the technologies weren’t all mature enough to support these kinds of things. Now the technologies are mature, and we’re able to do more and more — which means I need to learn more and more.

And that’s fine. Because I can.

This is a relatively new thing for me — I mean, it’s a relatively re-newed thing for me. When I fell in 2004, one of the things I lost (temporarily) was my ability to learn new things. Hell, I couldn’t even read, let alone keep my attention on the pages of a book long enough to let things sink in. That’s changed dramatically over the past 7 years… I’m better now than I’ve been in a long time, and it just keeps getting better. It’s very encouraging, and each day I learn even more… it builds on itself.

It’s wild, when I think back. In 2005, when I was dealing with all the TBI fallout and I was sliding farther and farther down into that black hole, I couldn’t figure out how to get from A to B to C. Let alone from A to Z. My sequencing was all messed up, and I could not figure out the most basic things, like the orders of instructions and how to use new programs. That’s a problem, when you work with computers. You have to constantly learn how to use new programs. But I was so out of it and so turned around, I was all but useless.

Even up until a year ago, I was still struggling with figuring things out — and it really showed at work. I would get so turned around and confused about how to do things, and then I would sit and struggle with them, thinking that there was something really wrong with me that I couldn’t figure things out. This wasn’t just me thinking it, either — plenty of other people gave me sh*t for not being instantaneously able to decipher new and unique stuff. It’s been very trippy, looking back on the things I did in the past two years, realizing how I just wasn’t clued into how things worked, and I was just pushing through, making the best progress I could under the circumstances, and totally clueless about why people were getting so upset with me. And they were getting really upset with me, because there were a lot of things I was struggling with, for no apparent reason — at least no reason apparent to them.

Now, I really feel like I’m doing much better. I’m more flexible than I was in the past, and I’m more actively engaged in problem-solving situations. I still have my problems dealing with a lot of my co-workers, who have their own issues (their issues are more motivational, than logistical — what I lack in native smoothness, they lack in will and desire). But I’m a lot more clued into what’s going on around me, than I was before.

It’s interesting — talking to my neuropsych, they seem to think that my issues are really based in stressing over things and being hard on myself. They tell me there’s nothing wrong with me. It’s kind of them to say so, yet I can tell a real difference between how I function now and how I functioned before. They are fond of telling me that my perception of my abilities in the past was probably a bit flawed, and I had an inflated sense of my own abilities.

Maybe, but I can still tell a big difference between how clueless I feel now, how much I just kind of muddle through, and the smoothness and fluency of my past abilities. That subjective experience is very important, no matter how much my NP tries to reassure me that there’s really nothing wrong with me. I appreciate their eagerness to reassure me. I think it’s helped me to really overcome a lot that I might have given up on, had I been convinced that I was permanently damaged and was never going to completely “recover”.

However, I have a very different perception and personal experience, and that has told me loud and clear that I have some areas to work on. My NP doesn’t seem to understand that my focus on fixing what is less than perfect is not because I’m down on myself — it’s because I truly believe that I can — and will — improve. But I can’t fix something if I am not aware that there’s an issue. So I have to keep an eye out for issues.

It’s like with Give Back – paying attention to brain injured moments, and focusing on fixing them. That’s my preferred approach, but my NP seems pretty intent on steering me away from focusing on what’s going wrong… and getting me to pay attention to what’s going right. I can see their point — it is so important to focus on what’s right and make the most of that — and replicate the experience. At the same time, though, it’s also important for me to see the areas where I’m coming up short and work through them.

I’ve gotten away from that over the past couple of years, and while it has been helping me to calm down and chill out and take the edge off… as well as improve my sense of who I am and where I fit in the world… it has also kept me from really truly improving in some areas.

And those areas are where I need to focus. Learning. Studying. Doing work properly. Completing my tasks. Delivering my work on time.

So, I still have my work cut out for me. And I need to keep aligned with the direction I’m heading. I have a bunch of stuff I have to do for work, and I have a bunch of stuff I need to do for myself. And I need to keep my strength and resiliency up. I have a plan — to strengthen my skills, find my next job (probably a contract, to start with, so I can get back into that line of work) and start looking for my next career step — another permanent job that is more in line with what I want, instead of this ridiculous treading water, just trying to stay afloat in a raging sea.


Anyway, the day is waiting and I have a lot of exciting stuff to think about. It’s time to get going, time to get on with my day. I’m feeling really good about this, and each time I sit down to work on my skills, I remember yet again why I got into this line of work — I just love it so much.

And that is good fuel for my focus.

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.

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