Not giving in

Ha – just try me 😉

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about my processing speed. I’ve been feeling dull and stupid — probably because of my new job that has me sitting on the sidelines and training, before I dive in — and I’m not putting 2 and 2 together quite as well as I’d like.

At least, not yet.

I know I’ve only been on the job three weeks, but I feel like I should be more coherent. I’m having a lot of trouble expressing myself, and I have to really think about what I’m going to say before I say it. I’ve been looking around online to find sites that can teach me how to organize my thoughts. This is getting on my nerves, and I’m starting to get a complex about it. I want to be in the flow, getting live experience… but they have me sidelined, just watching, as though that’s going to help anything.

I know I’m not the only one who’s feeling this. The other two folks who joined when I did are also feeling sidelined and underutilized. We all want to get going and make things happen, and we don’t have that opportunity just yet. We have to learn by doing, but everyone is so afraid of making a mistake, we can’t move forward.

Argh!

My processing speed, as I mentioned, is really troubling me. I know I have a lot of new information I need to integrate and learn to use. So, I need to cut myself a break, relax and recuperate, and give myself time to breathe and settle in. I’m doing that this weekend, occupying my attention with things other than work, relaxing, taking it easy, getting some exercise (which really helps), and checking in with myself about what matters most to me in my life.

I just need to trust the whole process and know that in time I will learn, things will make sense to me, and I’ll have sufficient experience to draw on to make the right decisions about the right things. I need to keep my spirits up, not let on how dejected I get, and keep positive, no matter what. The people around me at work are typical Americans — they need me to be positive and up-beat and can-do, use all the catch-phrases and industry jargon. There’s no room for realism and acknowledging human limits as just part of everyday life. That’s just depressing! And it’s not how Americans are supposed to believe and behave!  At least, not the overachieving top performers that they all aspire to be.

One of the things that makes this job more challenging than need be, is that everyone there is convinced that their company is special and unique and totally unlike anything else on the planet. Silly. They remind me of plenty of other companies I’ve worked for — and they start to squirm when I say so.

I suppose having that sense that they’re unlike any other company helps with fostering a sense of community and “tribe”. Us against them. All that. The thing is, they’re not really that essentially different from other companies. They have their way of doing things, which is just a learned thing. And they have their specific “pain points” that they need to deal with. They design and produce technology. They’re very successful at it, but really, they’re in the same business as countless other technology companies, and they can simply get over themselves, as far as I’m concerned.

Well, fortunately I’ve got two more days before I go back to work AND I only have to work 8 hours a day, this coming week, instead of 10-11. So there. I’m expecting to work longer hours a couple more times in the next month, but then again, maybe I don’t need to work ALL those extra hours. Doing the 10-hr thing gets old. I did it before – for years – and it’s a relief to not have to do it.

Plus, what a huge deal, to get to have an hour or two in the morning to work on my own projects, before going into the office. And getting home at a decent hour… Truly awesome.

So, maybe I put in an extra hour or two, when I have to take time off. Maybe I don’t. Either way, I need to just do what I need to do, to keep my system balanced out. Just relax. And not give in to the anxiety and neurosis. Just let myself be. And be done with it.

I was getting a little peeved at a coworker who’s supposed to be training me. Rather than training me, they’re avoiding me, and they have not been inclusive at all. It’s a little annoying. They think they’re just supposed to be my “buddy” and answer questions when I have them. But our boss says I’m supposed to shadow them. I’m not keen on making a nuisance of myself, but I do need to get trained, and I do need to shadow them. They’re not inviting me to the meetings they should be. They’re actually cutting me out. So, I need our boss to clarify and make sure everyone is clear about what needs to happen.

It’s almost like they just want me to go away, which doesn’t make any sense, because they’re overworked and they need the help. I’m not going to be any use, if they don’t make the effort to train me.

But I can’t give in to paranoia. They don’t even know me yet, and a lot of people don’t think much of me when they meet me the first time. They just don’t realize what I can do, what I’m capable of achieving — and how it benefits them. I’ve got to give it time. Most people I work closely with develop issues with me until they get to know me, so I’ll just need to keep steady and let them sort out their own personal problems.

They’re not my problems.

So, that being said, I’ve had enough of thinking about that person and the situation. The weather is clearing, and I’m going to the beach later today. I’ve got some excellent reading and writing slated for this morning — I’ve gotten some great ideas from a book I’m reading… and I’m writing something to go along with it, to help me understand my own viewpoint on the subject.

It’s all in the spirit of kick-starting my brain and getting myself back into the groove of critical thinking and organizing my thoughts more clearly. Much of what I’m writing these days — aside from this blog — is personal and private and I’m not sharing much of it with anyone. I do share some of it with my spouse, and if they understand it then I know I’m on the right track, because they don’t get caught up in all the mental gymnastics that go along with intellectualizing and what-not.

So, it’s all good. I’m getting good rest and taking care of myself and easing off on the anxiety about my performance at work. For the first time in probably ever, I feel like I’m really at the right place in my life at this time — and I’m right where I always dreamed I would be, at this point in my life.

I just realized that the other day — I’m actually right where I wanted to find myself, on down the line. I’m at a place that I envisioned for myself, when I was a kid mixing up home-grown chemistry experiments in my basement, and recording the results in a composition book (note to self: I really need to find that old chemistry experiment notebook – it’s in storage somewhere). I’ve got a study of my own, with books I love and can turn to. I have a desk with a great view of my back yard, and I have the time in the day and week to really dig in and tease out the things that fascinate me. I have room to move and explore, and I’m not tied down by any licensing body or regulatory commission that’s going to stop me from pushing the limits of my understanding.

It’s all good. I was lost for a long time, dealing with life and all the challenges that came with health issues, money issues, family issues, relationship dramas, and so forth. I’ve been through a ton of sh*t that a lot of people never encounter till later. And while I might not have it all figured out, I have sufficient experience to know how to begin approaching the Big Problems of my life.

It’s all good. It truly is.

Now, onward….

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Phenomenal

This vacation is turning out to be pretty amazing. I’m still a far cry from being fully rested, or getting a full night’s sleep. I’ve been up late every night, under the clear night sky filled with stars, just being. Not doing. Just being. Sitting on the beach till midnight, tending a fire. Swimming in the ocean at midnight with a friend. Listening to the waves coming and going and letting go of a lot of old “stuff” that has bogged me down.

A few days ago, when I was so very tired from entertaining the lamprey house-guest, I got really caught up in some old “blame games” with my spouse. We’re lying on the beach under a clear sky, not a trouble in sight, and a lot of old resentments started to bubble up. It was definitely withdrawal from the energy I had to expend on the lamprey house-guest — and I was tired, so very tired, and agitated, too.

About an hour of an otherwise perfect day was spent hashing and re-hashing a handful of old hurts, which I now realize may not even be valid. I realize now that my addled mind got paranoid and had it in my head that some terrible betrayal was done to me… when what I have been imagining and getting resentful about may have never happened at all.

Then again, there’s a chance that it did happen, that a terrible injustice was done to me… and I would be “justified” in being hurt and angry.

But focusing on that imagined condition at that point in time, when it was not happening, and in fact it was old news… and it was a gorgeous day with ample time to rest and relax… it just didn’t make any sense. I was ruining my present moment with something in the past that might never have been real.

So, I decided to just let it go. Just. Let. It. Go. There’s no point in hanging onto that old stuff — it just keeps me from being present to, well, the present. And it gums up my system with all sorts of biochemical sludge that I then have to remove at a later time with a lot of extra work and attention.

It’s easier to just let it go from the get-go, and not get into it. Of course, take care of myself and stand up for myself, and not let people walk all over me. But not get mired in the past, when the present is calling.

We humans are funny creatures, sometimes. We need to feel validated and we need to feel like we matter. And when we get hurt, we need someone to see and recognize that. For some reason, it makes us feel better. The problems start, when we get so bogged down in that needing to be seen and recognized and appreciated, that we “take up residence” in our hurts and frustrations and pain, and we drag everyone around us down into that quicksand of pain and suffering.

We want to be seen and recognized. We want our pain and sacrifice to be appreciated and acknowledged. But then our entire lives can end up revolving around that pain and sacrifice, to the point where it gets blown up into The Main Event of our lives. We can get addicted to the thrill of disclosure, as well as the rush that comes from talking about what bad things have happened to us… and that just pulls everyone down — including ourselves.

So, I decided a few days ago to just let it go. Just live as though it had never happened. Let the bad decisions and perceived betrayals and the hurts and injuries just fade into the background… like the invented thought-forms they are. Our perceptions of life and experience are so subjective, we can make of them what we want. And once they’re over and done, they are over and done. It’s just how we “curate” them in our minds that causes us pain — how we hang onto them and nurse them back to health, just when they’re about to die out and disappear.

And what I discovered years ago, is that if I decide to live and act as though what happened has dissolved into thin air, and I choose to think and feel as though the exact opposite occurred, I can turn around my mindset and change the course of my life.

It’s not pretending something never happened. It’s not denial. It’s refusing to let unhappy events of the past continue to live beyond their “expiration date”. It’s like putting “Use By” labels on my experience, and once that date has passed, I stop opening up the old memory containers, because I know the insides are going to be spoiled and smell really awful.

So, since that moment when I decided to let that old sh*t go, I haven’t been bothered by it. Even in the moments when things have gotten weird and tense inside my head, and I’ve had time on my hands to perseverate about bad things that happened in the past, I haven’t done it.  I’ve literally just let it go.

Phenomenal.

And it occurs to me that so much of what we do in our own heads is just that — picking and choosing what we are going to focus on, and making that rule our lives and set the tone for our experience. The fact of the matter is, I’m really tired and feeling sick most of the time. My sensitivities are making me touchy and jumpy and hard to live with. And I’m in pain. But I don’t have to let those passing experiences take over my life. Every new moment is a new opportunity to experience and think and feel something completely different — something completely better.

So that’s what I’m choosing. It takes practice, and old habits of mind are hard to break — especially when they are connected with physical experience — but it’s possible. It’s very do-able.

And that’s what I’m practicing. That’s what I’m doing. I’m just dropping that old crap and moving on, using my mind to steer clear of letting my body drag me down. And in the process, my body actually starts to feel better. Sometimes. Other times, not. But whatever. At least my mind is freed.

Yeah, phenomenal.

 

 

A strangely vulnerable place

What does the shadow know?

I recently was pointed to an excellent blog post by someone who writes about disability. Her post No, You Are Not Adam Lanza’s Mother and Yes, Your Kid’s Privacy Matters really struck a nerve with me. She basically took to task the author of a blog post that went viral, recounting personal struggles with a challenged kid and what she felt she was forced to do. She seemed to truly believe that her kid might one day turn into a shooter like the one who massacred all those little kids and teachers in the Newtown, CT elementary school.

When I read the words of that mother who blogged about her troubled son and publicly “outed” him in ways that can — and will — follow him the rest of his life, frankly it was eerie. And like the author of No, You Are Not Adam Lanza’s Mother, it really bothered me, hearing a mother tell the world about her usually brilliant, sometimes violent son. To all appearances she was calling out for help. I got that. But I also had to wonder – what about her son? And not only now, but what about later?

Certainly, it must be horribly, terribly difficult for any parent to struggle so much with a kid like that. I feel a great deal of compassion for her. At the same time, I also cannot help but think of my own mother, who spent much of my childhood reaching out for support and help from her friends, by telling them what a difficult time she was having with me and one of my other siblings, who was also a “problem child”. I can remember quite vividly the winter vacation we took with the family next door, when I was 12 or so, and I overheard my mother complaining with great anguish about me and my anger. She could not understand why I was so bitter, so angry, so uncontrolled. I’ll never forget the tone of her voice, the disgust, the helplessness, the blame — as though my anger, regardless of the cause, was an insult to her.

I was making her look bad.

After all, my other siblings were so good — except, of course, for the other problem child who ended up addicted to heavy duty drugs, dropped out of high school in 9th grade, and was in and out of trouble with the cops for years. If only we could all be like the other three who were such good kids, such diligent students, so responsible for their age. If it weren’t for the two of us, everything would have been just right — no criticisms from grandparents, no condemning stares from strangers, no tsk-tsk-tsk from the “church family”. Just a nice all-American family growing up together in a happy little unit.

But of course, there was me… the kid who’d gotten hit in the head a bunch of times (not that anyone put two and two together and understand that was why I was so angry, so quick to act out, so impulsive, so unable to keep focused on anything for long). I was a problem. An embarrassment. A puzzle that could never be solved. I was the wedge between my family and perfection, the barrier between my mother and her happiness. My dad spent a lot of time traveling for his work, when I was a teenager, so he got out of dealing with us, most of the time. So, mom was left to deal with me and The Other One. We were her cross to bear. Especially me — at that point in time — age 12-13, when I seemed irreversibly at odds with everything in the world, including myself, and nothing could calm or soothe me except solitude and the company of my own imagination.

And I wonder about that kid who got basted in that blog post. I wonder how he must feel — how he’s going to feel. The sound of my mother’s dismissing, disparaging, judging, disgusted voice in that cabin in the woods, some 35 years ago, stays with me to this day, and it did a number on my head for years after I first overheard it. I cannot even imagine how that kid must feel, having his issues broadcast all over the world wide web, for all to see and read and think they know about.

Truly, it must suck.

What also sucks, is imagining what it means for the kid long-term. He’s been committed, and his mother has publicly said he’s a threat. What are the chances now, do you think, of him ever being admitted to a public school, or for that matter a college? What school would want him? What college — especially considering the episodes at Virginia Tech — will welcome him with open arms, with a record he’s already started at 13? It probably makes no difference if they sort out his meds. It probably makes no difference if his chemistry rights itself with his advancing years. And it certainly makes no difference, if he learns coping mechanisms and behavioral strategies that help him keep centered and grounded in the midst of any storm.

The damage is done. His face and his name are out in the open for all to see. He’s well and truly screwed.

But hey, at least his mom feels better, right?

What a strange feeling this is. I can only be thankful that my mother had no access to the blogosphere when I was a kid. If she had, she would have been all over it, broadcasting her woes and my ills to the world on every forum and blog and social media outlet she could get to. She did that sort of thing — old-school — as much as she could, with both me and my other problem sibling, with whomever she could, so long as they were willing to listen.

To this day, she hasn’t let go of the pain and humiliation and hurt which my ex-addict sibling brought to her and her otherwise perfect family. She continues to punish them with judgments and criticism and public humiliation, even decades after they had their last high. And she continues to treat me like I’m somehow deficient — to this day she still jumps a little whenever I make a sudden move, as though I’m still as unpredictable and volatile as I was when I was younger. It makes no difference that both of us kids have paid our dues and gotten our lives in order. It makes no difference that we are different. For her, we are just the same.

She remembers. She remembers what we did to her and her chance at perfection. And we will never live it down.

That recollection of what it’s like to have your mother broadcast your illness for her own sake… it’s only half the actual struggle with all this I’m having right now. The other half is with privacy, and the freedom to be anonymously imperfect in this increasingly invasive world. There’s a reason I don’t tell people who I am and where I live. There’s a reason that no one I know is aware that I keep this blog going. Because people just don’t get it. Unless you’ve been in this kind of situation, where your brain and your body and much of your life are all seemingly pitted against your will and best intentions, you cannot know how it is. But you can sure as hell judge. You can sure as hell condemn. And you can sure as hell make certain that your views are known — whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, blog comments, or some other online social medium. There’s just too much talk and not enough knowledge, too much criticism and not enough compassion.

And that is a battle I choose not to take on. Because it’s a losing one. A long and losing one, at that.

Now, being curious to see if there was any kind of response/backlash against the blogger who took issue with Pseudo-Adam Lanza’s mother, I checked back today. Sure enough, she got a ton of comments, apparently a lot of them were not that great. She followed up with a great post: Debriefing: On the Ethics and Implications of Outing a Child in the Media and she touched on many of the things I was thinking, myself. I hope you’ll read her piece – she says it all quite well.

In the end, like many people after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, I’m feeling quite raw and vulnerable, these days. But even moreso, as someone with a history of cognitive issues and anger issues and attentional issues that could easily be amplified and skewed by the scapegoating mob who are seeking to root out “bad influences” and “threats” from polite society. Behind every rock, there seems to lurk a demon. People are looking high and low, and you generally find what you look for. It’s truly bizarre, to feel that after so many years of working so hard to gain some semblance of normalcy, I should experience this sense of intense vulnerability — not as a victim, but as someone who might be targeted by the status quo, because of my past. Especially my childhood.

And it makes me reluctant to actually speak my mind and talk about what’s really going on “ïn here”. Someone might take it the wrong way, after all. And then what?

I know I’m indulging in some pretty far-ranging what-if’s… and yet…

Are people with mental illness going to be targeted by an uninformed and aching public? It’s quite possible.

Are people who have different cognitive capacities going to be singled out and marginalized by a world seeking desperately for ways to return to normalcy — a normalcy which never actually existed and we frankly will never “get back”? It wouldn’t surprise me if that happened.

Are people with known anger issues, who struggle with impulse control, who honestly and sincerely work towards keeping to stable ground and staying centered in the midst of chaos going to be seen as potential threats to those around them? I wouldn’t doubt it.

In the extremes, of course we have to be careful. We have to be wise and prudent and use our heads and not let the batshit crazy people loose their rage on the rest of us with tools of mass destruction. But there’s a whole lot of different kinds of crazy swirling around in many, many guises, and I for one wouldn’t care to be labelled by the maddening crowd and possibly targeted by those who “mean well” and are trying to protect their loved ones from threats they imagine are there.

Nor would I want my ills to be dragged out into the light of day without my consent or say-so, and marked as “a future Adam Lanza” — just because my mother needed to feel that she wasn’t quite so alone.

Ha! Twice vindicated!

How you like me now?

I’m sitting in a Starbucks in a strip mall in exurban America, listening to their musical mix of ballads by French singers. I think they’re French, anyway. Maybe Brazilian or something else. Hard to say, but they’re all sounding melancholy and deep. I’ve got a big-ass cup of green tea on the table in front of me, and I’m positioned with a good view of the entrance of a massive liquor store that’s got a regular flow of folks going in and out.

It’s Friday night, and I am so relieved.

First, because I’m not going to be laid off (yet). I’ve been informed that I’ve got a job for the forseeable future.

Second, because I wasn’t completely nuts and paranoid, thinking I was going to be laid off. ‘Cause I came this close.

Here’s how things shook out this past week: Monday and Tuesday were pretty intense, because I had reckoned that I was going to get laid off that week. People were acting weird towards me at work, nobody was emailing me, and the absence of my team was particularly noticeable. Some organizational announcements were made with some allusions to new roles and new divisions and what-not. But other than that, nothing definitive was communicated to me about my situation.

Wednesday, I actually talked to the uber-boss on the phone while they were offsite meeting with HQ. They were not having a very productive time of things at HQ, but they did tell me that my job was safe — and I’m actually being considered for a more prominent role involving more leadership in the group. Where exactly that is going to be situated in the company, I’m not sure (nobody is, just yet), but the bottom line was, the folks at HQ have a lot of respect for me and they want to use my experience more than it’s being used now.

So, that was good news. Nothing definite, but a heck of a lot more promising than the vibe I was getting before my team all left on Friday.

Thursday, we had a visit from executive leadership, and they gave us a rousing pep talk and big-picture spiel that was actually pretty inspiring. It was a whole lot better than the half-assed prognostications that everybody’s been involved in. I got a very clear sense that there is a definite vision in place for the future, and executive leadership is really behind it — innovation, change, and all that. Sure, it was a lot of conceptual stuff, and who knows how much of what they’re planning will actually happen, but it’s a mission. It’s a vision. It’s a goal. And that’s more than I had on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday.

Thursday afternoon, after the big C-level whoop-de-do, the uber-uber-boss called a meeting and informed everybody of what’s going in the division. Basically, we all get to keep our jobs — or rather, we get to stay employed. Our jobs will surely be changing, and nothing will be certain for a number of weeks, yet, but the bottom line is, we don’t have to all brush up on our resumes and go looking, for the foreseeable future.

It wasn’t always that way, though. Apparently, over the past months, there’s been a lot of back-and-forth going on between HQ and the division about who’s needed, what jobs need to be done, etc. etc. And apparently, only a few months ago, people at HQ were assuming that my division would be drastically cut, because there are so many of us. But then something changed and the cuts got scaled back. Only a few folks would be going away. But my team’s uber-boss was going to have to cut one person. They were told they couldn’t keep everyone – one person would need to go. And I’m guessing (I’d bet good money on it, too) that I was their prime candidate. I know I’ve really worked upper management’s last nerve a bunch of times, and I don’t genuflect the way everyone else does, so I’d make a really great candidate to get cut.

I believe that’s what was going on last week — when things were weird, I’m sure that my head was on the chopping block. But then… the uber-boss went to HQ, and apparently people there were talking really highly of me. I should hope so — it’s not that I’m all conceited and what-not. It’s just that I’ve gone out of my way to be courteous and friendly and collegial with folks there, and I’ve not made a secret of my in-depth experience and my strong opinions that are based on that experience. I’ve been straightforward and up-front with everyone at the top, admitting my flaws and shortcomings, while making sure they know about my strengths and experiences and my eagerness to make right the things that get screwed up. So they have no reason at all to think poorly of me. I’ve been nothing but professional towards them, and I know they appreciate it. They’re actually happy to see me, when we run into each other, every now and then — it’s not that fake posing that I detest, either. It’s genuine friendliness. On both our sides.

This is in sharp contrast to the behavior of the rest of my team who have followed the uber-boss’es lead. They tend to be defensive and closed and stand-off-ish, and posturing like they’re so much better than the wonks in HQ. What’s the point in that? It’s time to build bridges, folks — the people in charge are still people, and they look to us for help and support, so why not give it to them — and then some?

Interestingly (and not unpredictably) the uber-boss got totally brushed off when they went to HQ. Out of three long days, they only got to spend a few hours with the folks in charge, which was about as much of a brush-off as you can give someone, imho. And the time when they did meet, they talked about me in positive ways. Can you tell I’m pleased?

So, just acting like a decent human being has paid off 100%. And acting like a jerk is not getting people anywhere. Karma’s fun, when it works out. But of course, I’ve earned it.

I’m quite happy tonight. Relieved. And not just because I’m in a really good position with the folks in HQ, but because I was NOT being brain-injured, delusional and paranoid in think that something was wrong with my immediate team. Because I was in danger of being laid off. Very much so. I’d bet money that the uber-boss was going over with the intention of nominating me for the axe. But it didn’t turn out that way at all.

So there.

I’m still here. I’m still standing. I’m not crazy for suspecting things were stacking up against me. But rather than having to go down in flames, it could be that I’m actually going to make out better in the organization than I’d expected, which pleases me more than words can say. Truly.

Of course, we live in an interesting world, so all of this could change next week. But right now, it’s Friday night, I’ve got a cozy chair in a corner of a little Starbucks with my big cup of tea, and I’m feeling quite fine.

I’ve been vindicated. I’ve been spared. And it might turn out that this re-org works 100% in my favor in ways I never dreamed possible.

For tonight, life is really good, so I’m going to bask in the glow while I can.

Ahhhhhhh….

Calling Concussion Brain Injury Changes A Lot

Here’s a shout out to readers of the Concussion Blog who have found their way here. And if you haven’t checked out the Concussion Blog yet, please do. It’s great.

I’ve been giving a fair amount of thought to concussions over the past couple of years. In the course of my tbi rehab, my neuropsych has referred to my mild tbi’s as “concussions” and oddly, I never really thought of them that way. I’m not sure why I didn’t make the connection. I guess I thought, like so many others, that concussions are not that big of a deal — just a bump on the head. Getting your bell rung. Getting dinged. Big deal, right? Then, when my neuropsych talked about all the concussions I’ve had, the light went on.

My mild traumatic brain injuries were concussions. Concussion sounds a lot less dramatic than TBI, but essentially, it’s the same thing (I won’t go into the distinctions that SUNY-Buffalo Concussion Clinic people make).

Anyway, about a year ago, I started getting into reading about concussions more seriously and thinking about them in terms of not only my own experience, but also that of many other student athletes who have experienced concussion. I got Chris Nowinski’s book Head Games,  and I read that (and got very concerned about the idea of getting knocked around again), and did some more thinking.

Basically, I’ve seen two trains of thought around concussion — one treating it as concussion, the other treating it as brain/head injury. Which highlights one of the core issues for me — concussion can be more easily dismissed (as I once did) if it’s not viewed in terms of being a traumatic brain injury. It may also be more easily studied, however — googling “long-term sequelae of head  injury” returns 857 results, while googling “long-term sequelae of concussion” returns 279,000 results. Interesting disparity there.

So, there’s more talk about concussion… perhaps because it’s a “safer” word. But is that safety costing us, in terms of seriousness? Calling something a nicer word may make everyone feel better, but is that we should really be doing? Granted, upping the volume on concussion concern and awareness can introduce a certain paranoia to the discussion, and without the proper context and a level-headed approach, it can degenerate to knee-jerk “Stop all play now!” kinds of frantic reactions. But we also need to be adults about this and accept that concussion isn’t just about being “violently shaken” — it’s about the brain. And that’s not the sort of thing it pays to dismiss.

Prediction:

It will take about three years for the reactionary tone around the concussion crisis to give way to level-headed, medically and scientifically sound and experience-based discussions and responses. It will happen, but it’s not going to happen overnight. First, we need to get our heads around the potential severity of the situation, learn as much as we can about what can be done to prevent and respond and adjust, and create a culture that can protect its active members both during and after play. I give us all five years to come up with an actual plan of action that’s been shown to work. But let’s not wait five years. Let’s start now.

Because concussion is a brain injury. And our brains matter.

Overslept – thank heavens

Source: public-domain-photos.com

Today is a big day – my new boss starts today. Actually, it’s my boss’es new boss — the existing boss’es boss who flipped out over my faux pas a few weeks ago wisely perceives that they need an additional layer of management to help with all their reports. It’s good. Plus, there is a chance that it may mean I get a promotion (and possibly a raise) in the deal, because it’s common knowledge that I have a ton more experience at what I do, than what my current boss does. And it could mean that the two of us become peers, rather than me staying subordinate.

Plus, my spouse has a conference call this morning with a potential new business partner which could really help bump their business up in a way it’s been needing to, since around 1999, when a former business partner changed their business model and moved on. Ever since that, my spouse has been seeking a replacement business partner, but they never materialized.

Now they’re materializing, and it looks very promising. Good stuff. That, on top of the fact that my partner is getting more and more clients for their business, and they’re developing new services that are catching on in the community… more good stuff.

It’s exciting. And uncertain. And I haven’t been sleeping well, lately, which makes this the prime opportunity for a freak-out melt-down, which happened last night (this morning) at around 2 a.m.

For some reason, my brain decided that my spouse has been lying to me about a relationship they’ve developed with a co-worker — someone they work very closely with, and with whom they have admitted they have “chemistry”. It’s been a pretty sore spot for me for the past 9 months or so. It’s been a subtext in our lives that I have tried valiantly to be tolerant and understanding of. My spouse has assured me, time and time again, that there is nothing untoward going on, and I’ve had to believe them.

But lately, between being tired, starting the new job, and the great new business developments… not to mention the change of the season which always gets me a little down… it’s been getting harder and harder fight back the tendency to suspicion and distrust.

Now, you have to understand — the potential “other man/woman” has been a regular presence in our relationship for as long as we’ve been together — nearly 20 years. There have been “others” who have been more or less intimate/inappropriate with both of us. And we’ve both always had some other people experience sort of “spark” with each of us. We’re very different people, but we’re both very much alive, and people are attracted to our liveliness. It goes with the territory. Plus, we’re married, but we’re not dead, and we both appreciate an attractive, alluring individual when we encounter them.

When we’re strong, we’re fine. Neither of us has let infidelity get hold of us, and we’ve always come back from those kinds of gray areas stronger than ever.

But this time is different. For me, for my spouse. My spouse has traditionally turned to me for support (both moral and logistical and economic) when they needed an extra set of eyes for a marketing piece, or a strong back for lifting and carrying gear, or a little extra $$$ to pay a contractor or some other obligation. In many ways, I’ve been a silent partner in their undertakings. But over the past year, they’ve resolved to be more independent, more self-sufficient, and not depend so much on me.

It’s for good reason — one that has as much to do with me, as with them. As I’ve emerged from my latest TBI fog, I’ve realized how much I tend to overdo it, how I tend to over-extend myself, and I’ve realized that helping my spouse with as much as I have has taken a significant toll on my energy stores, which has made the rest of my life more difficult. So, I’ve requested that they “use” me a lot less for their events and activities, and they rely more on their support network for getting things done.

And they have. So I have been doing much better about handling my energy stores and my overall activities. But it also leaves me feeling unwanted. Unneeded. Cast away. Pushed aside. Discarded.

How does that work, exactly? I say I can’t keep holding down three jobs (my 9-5, another regular job I have that takes from 5-10 hours a week, plus helping my spouse), and I need a break from being their utility person. And when they give me what I ask for, I feel like so much human refuse. What’s up with that?

I think it’s human nature, actually. And I think it points out that I have used my position with my spouse, over the years, to “give them a reason” to stay with me. If they were dependent on me, then they would put up with my moodiness, my temper outbursts, my wild emotional lability, my melt-downs, my blow-ups, my friggin’ temper flares… and my intermittent troubles, thanks to intermittent TBIs. I figured, as long as they needed me for the most basic, fundamental stuff in life, they would keep me around. And I wouldn’t be alone.

But now that’s changing. And my job is changing. And the world is changing. And the seasons are shifting. And I’m tired. So, I become convinced that they’re having an affair and lying to me about it and hiding other things and making a fool out of me, talking about me behind my back with friends in common, and generally keeping me around until they can get enough money together to leave my sorry ass.

It came to a head at 2 a.m. this morning. Ugh. Fortunately (and I think this may have to do with my spouse having grown up in a household with volatile, sometimes violent parents) my partner was able to keep cool and not flip out on me, and what could have escalated into a full-scale fight that ended up with me driving off in the car and sleeping in a parking lot somewhere, ended up with us just talking things through.

And I got my head to calm down. With the help of my spouse, I managed to tame my crazy-ass broken brain that fixates on stuff and then turns it into something Big And Bad and awful, and got in touch with the fact that I’m feeling pretty alone in the world, right now, without any real-world friends of my own to just hang out with. I don’t have a real-live support network. Work doesn’t count – you need to maintain some professional distance there. And the friends that I have in common with my spouse… well, I haven’t done much to reach out to them. I’m so tired, so much of the time, I just can’t find the energy to reach out. Even my family is at arm’s length for me. We’re all so busy. So busy working just to keep it together and make ends meet.

Anyway, about 3:00 a.m. I managed to calm down enough to go back to bed. My spouse and I have been sleeping in separate bedrooms for almost 2 years now. They kicked me out a few winters ago, when my volatility got to be too much for them — they’d come to bed later than me, and I’d freak out on them waking me up and screwing up my sleeping pattern. Not good. Not pretty. So, I moved to the “guest” bedroom, which by now is really my bedroom. It’s a little lonely, and the mattress leaves a little to be desired, but it’s dark in there all night (my spouse likes to sit up late reading, and they like a night-light on all night), and with my earplugs in (to block out the sound of them moving around, which seems all the louder when I’m tired), I can sleep through.

Which is what I did today. I slept through the 6:30 alarm and woke up at 8:00. I had wanted to get into the office today early, so I could be there when my new boss gets there, but you  know what? I’m rarely there that early, and I’m going to stay late today, so why do something to throw myself off and put myself in an untrue light?

Plus, my present boss gets in around 9:30, and I don’t want to upstage them. I just want to start off on a foot that gives folks an accurate view of who I am and how I work — not manufacture an ideal image that I can’t live up to.

So, I’m running later than I expected to, and that’s fine. I’m also back on-line with my spouse, and I’m thinking about how I can change my life this autumn/winter to make it more “mine” the way I am now, instead of a shadow of the life I had before my last TBI. Much in my life has changed, since I embarked on my intentional TBI recovery, and I’m finding that the ways I’ve been over the years have not been true to who I really am, and how I really am.

I need change. I need something better. I need something that’s mine.

I did oversleep today, but it gave me something I’ve been needing desperately — more rest. The kind I can actually use.

ptsd & mild tbi

I haven’t posted for a few days, and I’m feeling remiss. Very, very tired… but also remiss.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the connections between ptsd and mild tbi, and sure enough, someone found this blog using this combo of words.

I’m probably too tired to come up with anything useful at this point, but I do want to say this: having a mild tbi can be extremely traumatic. And in my experience, it induces post-traumatic stress by heightening your perceptions of danger… and at times causing the body to over-respond to perceived threats… thereby flooding your system with fight-or-fight red-bull-type biochemicals which do a number on your nervous system.

And if your nervous system — which has two parts, the sympathetic, which gets you going, and the parasympathetic, which gets you chilled out — keeps pumped up all the the time, the part of it that’s supposed to chill you out, so you can recover from your shock/stress/trauma, just never gets a chance to do its job.

So, you end up with this ever-increasing burden of stress and this ever-decreasing ability to deal with it.

And all the while your brain is mis-firing and sending you signals that may or may not be accurate, but sure as hell feel like they’re for real.

I know I’m tired, and I know that is a total over-simplification of a complex and (when I have more energy) highly fascinating neuro-physiological phenomenon, but I have to post at least something today. And somebody was looking for ptsd and mild tbi info, so there ya go…