Finding progress after TBI

It’s there if I look for it

It’s been a real roller-coaster of a year, thus far. Work changes, home life changes, and trying to “reboot” my life for the better.

I’ve been noticing that I get pretty FIXated on what needs to be “fixed” in my life — what’s wrong, what’s going worse than I want it to, what needs to be addressed so that I can relax.

Relax… hm. There’s an idea.

But here’s the thing — a lot of what I think is “wrong” is going to change on its own, so I don’t actually need to do anything about it. A lot of what I really struggle with isn’t going to last. The job situation changes, as people come and go and the company decides to do something completely different. Family situations change, as people get sick and get better and learn their lessons and talk things through. Everyday life situations change, too. It’s just the nature of things.

So, getting too caught up in fixing something in my life that’s going to change, eventually, anyway, doesn’t actually make a lot of sense.

What makes more sense, is to settle into my own life, my own pace, my own way of thinking and doing things… figure out what I want to do with myself in my life… and stay the course as I get there.

All around me, things are crazy. People are genuinely insane, and they’re not making much attempt to hide it, these days. I can’t even look at the news these days, because all that’s there is drama and pain and blood and explosions. There’s no news of anything really good going on on mainstream media. Seriously, there’s not.

So, I have to find a different way — in the outside world and internally as well.

There’s Good News Network, for example, which shows all the good things that are happening in the world that don’t get major media coverage. There’s Good News on the Huffington Post, and then there’s Happy News, which is real news of happy things.

Internally, I need to keep my spirits up, as well, and really concentrate on the good that’s happening in my life. I tend to be so oriented towards addressing issues, finding what’s wrong and fixing it, that I neglect the good when it’s there. And I end up feeling artificially bad about so much, when I could feel genuinely good about so much more.

The fact of the matter is, I can now live my life with 1000% more sense of capability, than I could, just a few years ago. The fact of the matter is, even in the face of really difficult conditions, I can function — and function very well. The fact of the matter is, I have learned how to manage my temper and control my anger outbursts. The fact of the matter is, people who used to be afraid of me, no longer are. I have a better relationship with my family than I ever have — I even spent an hour on the phone with one of my siblings on Sunday night, talking in ways we have rarely talked — nothing that heavy, just talking for real about our lives and how we feel about them.

So much in my life has improved over the past years of dealing with my TBI issues. So much has settled itself, or I’ve found ways of handling it all with more capability than I thought I could. I have done some pretty amazing work, and I need to remember that — maybe make up a record book of some kind to remind myself of how far I’ve come, and what I’ve accomplished.

Because I forget. I forget and I lose sight of those things. My memory is not my best friend, when it comes to tracking where I’m at and how far I’ve come. I’m pretty caught up in the everyday, so I tend to focus on that.

But there’s more to life than the present instant that needs to be “dealt with”. There’s a whole world of past and future that’s looking for my recollection and discovery. And the bottom line is, no matter how much I may doubt myself from day to day, I have a whole lot of experience overcoming substantial roadblocks, and I can be pretty proud of that. I need to pace myself… and remember that even overcoming roadblocks, as necessary and encouraging as that can be, does take a lot of energy. And when I get depleted, I get depressed — for no other reason than that I’m depleted and I need to recharge my batteries. I get so tired, I forget that the very reason I’m tired, is because I’ve been doing really good work — and a lot of it — all day.

So, as much as I think about “making” progress in the course of my daily life, I also need to remember to find progress — steps I’ve already completed (and successfully at that), which show me I’m far more capable and resourceful than I give myself credit for.

I can do better about giving myself a rest and letting myself take a break, so I can come back stronger than ever. And I can remember — whether through a note to myself or a sign on the refrigerator — that I actually am making progress, it just seems like I’m not, because it’s lost in the haze of my fatigue and all my future plans.

Progress — it’s right in front of me, if I but look for it.

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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