TBI – Background music for all I do

So, life is treating me well, these days. I have so much going on, it’s crazy, but at the same time, I don’t. I have so much to do, and so much to accomplish. But at the same time, all this activity is only related to a handful of “primary purposes”  — my job, a side project, and my general health.

Each of these has a ton of details associated with them, and I have a tendency to get “lost in the weeds” — getting swamped by details, and getting down on myself, and losing time and energy to my head-case dramas. But then I take some time away, reset, and come back at things with renewed energy, and everything feels better. Not only that, but I’m functioning better, as well.

The thing I can’t lose sight of is the TBI issues that are the “background music” for my life. Much as I would like to forget about it, the problems that come up because of fatigue, confusion, losing sight of the big picture, and getting distracted by a hundred different passing things, are all things I have to keep in mind and actively manage. It does me no good to push and push and push for weeks on end, then crash at a critical point and lose ground. I need to move forward steadily, giving myself plenty of intervals to rest and reset.

I look around me at all the people who seem to be able to go and go and go without tiring, and I feel like I’ve been left behind. I have to spend so much time recovering from my days and weeks, that when everyone else is out and about, connecting and networking and “making the scene,” I am at home, keeping under the radar and out of sight, with limited exposure to anything but dinner, my spouse, and a handful of pre-recorded television shows.

I do work a lot, and some nights I’ll work late. But that is a rare occurrence. And I usually pay for it, for weeks after. I’m still paying for a couple of late nights I pulled last week. The fatigue doesn’t hit me right away. It usually takes a week to get to me. But then it hits me hard, and I cannot make it through the day without a couple of naps.

Crazy. And crazy-making. How I would love to be able to push through like everyone else around me, and keep up that wild pace.

Then again, I look at the people who are keeping up that crazy pace, and I have to ask if their lives are really that much better than mine. Sure, some of them are wildly rich and successful, but are they really happy and do they actually feel connected with what they are doing? I’m not sure they are. If they are, then that’s great and I’m happy for them. But I have to wonder if they’re satisfied with what they’ve got. I wonder if it’s enough.

I don’t want to get into a “sour grapes” mindset here. People have the lives they have. They have the lives they make. I have found what works for me, and what doesn’t. Comparing myself to others who seem to have more, doesn’t help me. It just holds me back and makes me feel badly about what I have. It also makes me question my own direction, which is not helpful.

I need to stay steady with my own direction, and always remember the context I am working in — susceptible to fatigue — which leads to light- and touch- and noise-sensitivities — which leads to even distractability — which leads to irritability and flurries of unproductive energy — which drains me — which leads to me feeling like crap and having a bad attitude — which adds to my stress and fatigue — which makes me want to drop everything and toss it aside and go back to something easier and less stressful.

I’ve been through that cycle countless times in my life — countless. It’s the hallmark of my existence, really, leading me to end up nearly 50 years of age without anything near the level of accomplishment I could have, feeling like I’m so far behind others my own age (and younger). If nothing else, it sharpens my resolve to pick myself up and get back in the game, whenever I stumble or fall. That regret, that embarrassment… it’s great impetus to really do something useful with my life.

Most of all, it’s great impetus to actively manage my issues with fatigue and all my sensory issues. It’s great impetus to keep eating right and getting enough good sleep, to actively manage my issues and keep myself honest through it all.

I spent the other day pretty much like a zombie. Dead-tired and zoned-out and not good for much… just reading the news and walking around the office and avoiding answering my emails before and after work. A lot of good that’s doing me and my plans. I took some naps, and I quit eating junk. I’m getting better now. And I know I can do even better than that.

So, I am. It’s a new day. I have a weekend ahead of me when I can really kick it with one of my projects. Things are happening that are just fantastic, and I need to remember that.

It’s all looking up — and when I keep my head on straight and manage and stay honest and true, good things get even better.

Onward.

 

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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