The things I need to know, to move forward

two rock climbers on climbing wall

So, the session with my neuropsych (NP) went well yesterday. We actually sat down and went through the data from my prior two evaluations, and I got to refresh my memory about what’s going on with me behind the scenes.

The things that jumped out, which are measurable problems are:

  • processing speed
  • visual memory problems
  • resistance to short-term interference

We talked a bit about these issues, and I got a clearer view of what actual difficulties I have. I struggle with certain things all the time, but I don’t always have a clear view of why that is. Maybe it’s my processing speed. I don’t seem to put things together right away, so I often don’t even realize that I’m struggling till later.

The idea that I’m slow doesn’t make me very happy. I’ve got “superior” intelligence, but my speed can be glacial at times. That puts me at a disadvantage in the speed-addicted world, where everything happens at high speed. It also doesn’t help me in social situations, where people gauge your intelligence by how quick you are. Obviously, that’s not a fair comparison. But that seems to be the public bias.

The thing that bothers me more is the visual memory thing. I tend to think of myself as a visual thinker, but maybe that’s not the case. My memory was the worst, when I was trying to remember pictures. I forgot things pretty quickly. Like they’d never even existed. Compared to my verbal memory (which also kind of trailed off at times — I lost track of important details), it was a lot worse.

I need to dig into this more, because I think this may be why I struggle with some things I really, really love. I’m an “anatomy geek”.  I love to study pictures of human anatomy — feet, hands, shoulders, backs, legs, torsos, internal organs, the nervous system, even the musculature of the head. But for some reason, no matter how hard I study, no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to keep the images in my head. I tried to become a personal trainer, years ago, and the reading materials were fine. But I couldn’t get the anatomy piece.

Maybe that’s why. If that’s the case, I need to either stop getting all these atlases of the human body, thinking I’m going to memorize them all… or I need to find another way to study. I’m not willing to let go of my love of the human system, so I’m not going to give up my atlases. I just need to find a new way to memorize. And not just memorize, but really understand how things are put together, using all the tricks in my toolbox.

My first NP was pretty intent on making sure I didn’t get down on myself and think less of my abilities. I have a tendency to focus on the things I do wrong (I was raised that way, actually), and that can really drag me down.

Now I really need to work with my issues in a more focused way. I know the numbers I’m looking at are old — the last eval I had was about 5 years ago. I should really get a new eval, but it costs a lot of money, and my insurance won’t cover it. So, unless I come across an extra $5K that I don’t need for something else (and wouldn’t that be wonderful), I’ve got to work with what I have. Too bad. I’m stuck.

Then again, I’m not that stuck. I can still observe what’s going in my life, see what’s causing me problems, and deal with that. I have a lot going on, so it can be a bit of a “dust storm” with lots of competing information, and I may not always be able to make distinctions. But at least with the handful of issues that my NP eval has identified, it gives me a handhold.

All of this can be like standing in front of a rock wall, trying to figure out where to grab onto first, to start climbing. All I need is a few tips and hints.

Then I can get started.

Moving up.



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 things I need to know, to move forward”

  1. I have what they call short-term memory loss. I am a visual thinking but, like you, I struggle to remember what I have seen at times. That part of my brain is permanently damaged. Learning to accept this and move on to workaround was a little daunting but I did it. Usually, just writing down what I have seen that I want to remember gets that thought past that damaged part and into my long-term memory where I can bring it up whenever I need it. Somehow the act of writing it down helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with Glynis Jolly-the new habits you make (such as writing everything down) are great strategies for managing day to day memory tasks post TBI. It sounds, however, like you’re looking for a tool to develop your visual memory. I am finding art to be a very helpful for this. It’s slow going-I sketch or paint as a daily practice trying to develop my visual strengths by taking the time to really study a subject I’m recreating. Like you, I also struggle with recalling visual details, but I’ve noticed that if I spend the time to draw or paint a scene, I feel like I’ve really learned it and I can remember every detail. This sustained focus on a task seems to be what it takes for me to learn. I’m working away at many of the same issues you have – I don’t know if working at art will replace your previous abilities, but it can’t hurt to give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Writing things down helps me too. I can’t remember someone’s name unless I see it written. Same with numbers, i need to see them written or I can’t even remember a phone number as I might transpose a couple of the digits.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks – yes – I’ve been thinking that I need to do more than just look at pictures when I try to memorize them. Draw them. Make some sort of motion. Recruit muscle memory, and also bring more of my senses into it, to have a more “full-spectrum” experience. I think it’s going to take more time to memorize, if I use all the other ways of doing it. But the experience promises to be more complete, so that seems like a good use of time and energy.

    Thanks for sharing what works for you.


  5. Thanks for writing. I’ve worked with art in the past — about 10 years ago, for a few years running — but then for some reason I lost interest. I think it got to be overwhelming. And life got busier — different job with a longer commute… less time to just do art. But that shouldn’t stop me from using it again. I have a bunch of old sketchbooks from my past, so I can certainly use them (as well as scrap paper) to draw the things I’m studying. I really, really do love anatomy, and I really do want to memorize it, so it’s time to get moving in that direction.

    Thanks for writing and sharing your approach.


  6. My memory is for crap, when it comes to remembering numbers said to me. I have to see them written down, too. I need to “see” things to remember them, a lot of times — envisioning what people are talking about, what I’m buying at the grocery store, etc — or my mind is like a sieve.

    Well, at least we have some alternatives we can use. And at least we’re aware of our limitations. The worst, was when I had no idea about my limitations. I was pretty much a train wreck, to be honest. Finding out about what was wrong, was a huge benefit. Might not sound like it, but it sure was.


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