Setting up my lab

Nirvana… for me, anyway

This weekend, while I’ve had the time to myself, I have relaxed. I have kicked back. I have read. I have realized. I’ve realized a core truth about myself, which is changing a lot of my focus in my own personal projects. I have cleaned out my study and moved my TBI/recovery notes and books back from the closet and the farthest recesses of my cluttered bookshelves, to be close at hand, where I can get to them.

I realized, in looking over my past notes, that I was doing some very good, very comprehensive work, some 6-1/2 years ago, and I need to revive it. I got sidetracked, because I was grappling with crippling debt, my spouse’s life-threatening physical and mental illnesses, and job troubles that had their root in exploitive and unethical business practices that were met with toxic disengagement by a disenfranchised workforce.

I was grappling with so, so many external issues — as well as what was going on inside my head. And I realize now that the toll of the external really hammered me on the inside.

So much stress, so much worry, so much strain… it can’t possibly be good for TBI recovery.

And in that respect, I do believe that our society — modern American society, that is — is at fault for so many of the hindrances to TBI recovery.

First, there’s the stupid prejudice that has its roots in ignorant fear.

Those roots take firm hold in the belief that so many have, that they have a RIGHT to treat others like sh*t. And they do. Because they are hurting and they want to make someone pay, and they pick the wrong people, entirely.

TBI survivors (and anyone who is not “normal” according to popular standards) have to continually battle prejudice and bias and the mistreatment by others over the stupidest little things — just try getting help at the DMV, let alone from your supposedly highly trained doctor… what a nightmare dealing with the outside world can be, when your brain isn’t working the way you (and everyone else) expect it to.

Then there is the idiotic racing around, doing everything and nothing at the same time. Being oh-so-productive, but completely missing the point of living in the first place — to actually experience your life and enjoy it for what it’s worth.

So much of this is done by people who are so terrified of looking at themselves and seeing themselves for what they truly are. What is WRONG with people, that they can’t just accept themselves for what they are? Seriously people, for all the “flaws” you think you have, it’s not THAT bad. Just because you’re not living up to some imaginary ideal that got planted in your brain by something on the outside — something that wants to make money off you… to feed on the fruits of your hard labor like a mental and financial parasite…

I am now coming out of nearly four years of being surrounded by people who have been ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY DRIVEN… and who have produced precious little results for all their busy-ness. Stupid. The whole point for them, apparently, has been to just be BUSY. Not to actually do anything useful, like make more sales and get more customers. Looking back, it really surprises (and appalls) me, how poorly they used their time and how terribly they managed their business.

Holy crap.

But… in another week, that will fall into the category of “not my problem”. So that takes care of that. And I don’t have to waste a lot of time fretting about that, anymore. What I do have to watch out for, in the future, is getting pulled into that sort of dynamic at my new job. There are things I can do to avoid that, and I intend to do them.

It makes me pretty angry to think about these things and how much suffering they cause. At the same time, though, we can all make up our minds about what we will — and will not — believe about ourselves and our innate human value. We can choose to think and live and relate to our lives in very different ways.

And that gives us a measure of control and autonomy that is so important with TBI recovery.

So, it’s been good, that I’ve spent a lot of time on myself this weekend, just taking care of business here, not getting sucked into the crazy running around that everyone else is doing. There are some things I intended to work on, which I did not do much with — till last night. I’ve needed the time to just decompress from the past week, to get my biochemistry back into line, and to just move at my own pace. Take it easy. Let it all go, and give myself space to realize certain things about myself…

Like the fact that I’ve done some incredible work with my TBI recovery.

Like the fact that I’ve reached some truly significant conclusions about TBI — my own and in general — that could actually shift the focus of both research and rehabilitation of TBI and PTSD in a direction that is mutually beneficial.

Like the fact that I am sitting on a huge reservoir of knowledge and experience about recovery and how to do it — and I have helped people along the way — and I can continue to do so.

Like the fact that even though I tend to think that I have failed in some way by not being able to finish my college degree (I dropped out, a couple of classes short of a bachelor’s), and that because I don’t have a degree I am not a reliable source for information, and I’m not qualified to do science and research… the actual fact of the matter is that I am extremely well situated to do independent research and writing, because I am self-supporting and I am not beholden to any grants or external funding to pursue my interests. I don’t need an academic institution to support me in my work and provide me with a laboratory and suitable environment for research and analysis. The world is my lab, and my life is very well organized to support the kind of solitude and freedom I need to digest information and arrive at my own conclusions.

I have access to a whole lot of cutting-edge research. It’s not all free for the taking, but I can at least glean a fair amount of knowledge from abstracts… and I can always pay for short-term access to items without too much hardship. I have access to the writings of some of the leading thinkers of our day, as well as the classics, thanks to an excellent inter-library loan system. And I have the leeway and freedom to read and write what I want, without censure or penalty from some academic overlords who hold the purse strings to my career.

So, there is literally nothing stopping me from having the life of science and research I craved as a kid. Nothing whatsoever.

And this is where I am being led — I may have written about this before, indirectly if not directly. Reading the research. Writing the papers. Attending the seminars, or watching the speeches on YouTube. Doing this myself, in my own lab, in my own custom-tailored environment. I have a whole lot of leftover stuff I can put to good use, including old computers I could not stand to be rid of. I know how to do a lot with very, very little. The only thing that’s actually missing, is putting it all together and moving forward.

The main ingredient that’s been missing in all of this, has been my self-regard. My self-respect. Thinking that because I am different and others don’t “get” me, there is something amiss with me. But it’s actually okay. I’m actually okay. I just haven’t been hanging out with the right people.

And that’s about to change — I’m going to be presenting a talk at a local community gathering, this coming week, where I’m going to share about a project I’ve been working on. It’s very, very nerdy, and “regular” people look at me oddly when I tell them about it with excitement. But now I’ve found a group of people who get as excited about this nerdy stuff as I do… and it’s going to be a watershed experience for me, when I share my talk with them, next week.

But enough talking about it. Time to get crackin’ on those slides!


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.

One thought on “Setting up my lab”

  1. Isn’t that the biggest joke. Someone needs to have a degree in order to be considered a valuable resource. Personally, an eight year old and a person who never saw a school chair or even spoke my tongue have known that I was brain injury survivor. the experts either found out and decided to save their butts as if I were a threat. I realize that PTSD ?TBI are difficult. You recognize it.Forward


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