Dealing with TBI Burnout – Part I

It can be a real pain in the ass, to constantly adjust to a mis-behaving brain. All that adjustment can burn you out. And that’s pretty much what’s happening to me. I’m doing a lot, and I’m making great progress. But I’m also wearing myself down, and the more tired I get, the harder everything becomes, and the worse my brain mis-behaves.

And the more I have to adjust and adapt.

Which takes more time and energy.

Man, oh, man… there is so much I want to do. And it’s all good.It’s not only for me- it’s for others, as well. But I’m pushing myself too hard and too long, and it’s burning me out. To the point where I just want to walk away from it all. Take the $700 I have in the bank and just split. Forget about everything I am planning, all the things I want to do and experience, and just say “screw it all”. Just leave. And never look back.

Part of me feels like it should be enough for me to just be functional. To just get through the day and  find some enjoyment in my life. Who cares about making a difference in the world?  It’s never going to work, anyway.

That’s what the tired-out voice in my head is saying, these days.

You know, it’s funny… Now that I look at things, I realize that I may be getting sucked into someone else’s idea of what “awesome” is. I’ve been spending a fair amount of time thinking about and planning launching a formal business for all my various undertakings… really becoming independent in whole new ways. The thing of it is, that’s probably not the way I should go. I should probably not aim for total independence, because I know as well as anyone that if I go solo and have the chance to withdraw from the world, I will. I’ll isolate. I’ll stop interacting with anyone outside my immediate circle. I will stop being social, and I will hide myself away like a hermit.

Is that really the best thing for me? Or my business?

No.

I need to be out and about. I need to be social. It forces me to improve, to be better, to interact. And it’s good for me and my brain.

My tired-out brain…. That gets fixated on a Single Idea — in this case, becoming independent in every sense — and telling the rest of the world to go screw. That gets worn out and desperate and frustrated and starts fantasizing about some pretty much impossible/implausible goal off in the future, which takes me away from my present.

Good grief. All along, I’ve been convinced that I was working towards a cohesive goal… when I’ve actually been burned out and pushing myself harder and harder to Get There, just to keep the pain and frustration and anxiety at bay.

I don’t want to be 100% independent and blocked off from the rest of the world. I want the freedom to experiment and try things and relax… and not have to work 18 hours a day, every single day.  I want to be able to kick back and enjoy the progress I’ve made… enjoy the process of doing all the things I love to do. I can’t keep putting all that pressure on myself to “execute my plans”, day after day.

I need to stop doing this to myself. I need a break.

From myself.

So I can quit burning myself out.

That’s a bad habit.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have fun, every now and then?

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And now… for my next trick —

When it works, it’s like magic

Two nights in a row of 7+ hours of sleep — I’m feeling pretty positive today, especially since my spouse gets back from their business trip this afternoon. The last two days have been quiet, and I’ve gotten a lot done on different projects, but it’s just not the same, when I’m all alone in the house.

I’m looking at my list of things I was supposed to do, this weekend, and I have had to do a lot of shuffling, because I miscalculated the amount of time just about everything was going to take, and I also got distracted and caught up in things that weren’t even on my list — but should have been.

The yard really needed to be worked on, and the driveway really needed to be cleared out. No question about that. The only thing is, it took me a full day of strenuous activity to get that all in order yesterday, and then I was wiped out — barely had enough energy left to make a late supper and watch some t.v. before going to bed a little before midnight. I didn’t even have the energy to clean up after myself, as I usually do before bed. I just left the dishes in the sink and the living room in disarray, to take care of this morning.

I watched Game 3 of the World Series last night, but I had to turn it off, because I get really amped up by the game and the competition, and then I have a hard time sleeping.

Last night I did not have any trouble getting to sleep. Once I got down, I was down. And even when I woke up at 3 a.m., as I often do these days, I was able to get back to sleep, which was pretty awesome.

Today is another gorgeous day, and I have a few things to do before I head to the airport. One of the things is something I can only do when my spouse is not around, because it is loud and involves power tools, which drive them crazy. I have a few hours to do this work, which I am hoping will be enough time. I have really thought it through, from start to finish, and I am pretty sure about the exact steps I’m going to take, so it should go pretty smoothly.

This is my new technique for getting things done, and it seems to be going really well — based on my past experience (and I have to have past experience for it to work), I envision the process of doing something. I imagine myself doing it, I “feel” myself going through all the steps, and I envision the results of my work. I imagine when and where I might encounter issues, and I figure out how I will solve them. I probably spend about 10 times more time thinking things through than doing them. But when I do it, the results are usually 10 times faster than if I had just waded in and hacked around at what I was doing.

The key is to get started. To take action. To not get stuck in my head while I’m thinking everything through. That’s a real danger with me – I tend to get a bad case of “analysis paralysis”, which stops me from taking the next logical step. But I need to prove out the validity of my suppositions and give them a whirl, to see if I’m on the right track — and adjust anything if necessary.

And when it works, it’s like magic. Everything flows smoothly — like butter — and it almost seems as though there was “nothing to it”. I know differently, though — a whole lot of time and effort and thought and energy goes into making it all look easy. So long as I don’t get stuck in my head.

Unfortunately, Analysis Paralysis is where I’ve been stuck with one of my projects for about 6 weeks. I was making really great progress, then I stalled. Got stuck. Flamed out. I totally fried my system, because I was going-going-going about 200 mph for months on end, with this one project. Yeah, I made incredible progress. But I also fried my system, to the point where I was having almost constant tremors, I was exhausted all the time, and I was borderline delirious.

I kept it together on the outside, but people close to me were worried.

So was I.

Anyway, I’ve reset my internal system, rebooted, and I have a much better plan for how to move forward — just do a little something everyday. Not a ton of things. Not everything. Just a little something, here and there. That way, I can make the most of my time AND not overwhelm myself with All The Things That Need To Get Done.

Speaking of which, it’s time to get going, test out my current plan to see if it works and then finish this one job… to make room for the next bunch of things I need to do.

Onward