Going a little bit Crazy:
I have hit a stress maximum today. I’m sure you might understand what I’m talking about, maybe not. If you have a brain injury or CPM/EPM, you might be able to relate more to this.
No matter who you are or where you come from in life, you are always going to experience good and bad days. That’s just how life works, but when you hit that wall where you feel like you can’t handle one more thing, what do you do?
If you’re like me, right now, I have a tendency to run away. Truly, that’s what I like to do. I will pack my bags and leave. I won’t even have a certain agenda in mind. It just sounds better, feels easier than dealing with the problems at hand.
Guess what? It doesn’t work.
You might feel better for a little bit. In my case, it doesn’t work at all.
Here’s why: I have a brain injury, so putting things out of my mind…well that’s easy. It really is, but keeping them from erupting at any moment that’s harder to control.
Let me give you a few examples:
Today started off on a very positive note. I took an Ambien last night, so I slept well. I slept in pretty late. And as with every morning, I wake up completely empty headed, like Dora from Finding Nemo.
I greeted my 6 month old puppy, Toffee, with enthusiasm and let her out of her cage, gave her several minutes of undivided attention, placed her on the floor and walked into the kitchen. She followed.
Without even thinking about things, I already felt overwhelmed. Toffee needed food and water. I needed to take my medications. I knew I had a list of things to do, but couldn’t remember anything that I wanted to do today. There was a missed call and a message I needed to listen to on voice mail.
At one point in time in my life, I would have been able to handle these tasks in a moment…boom, boom, boom, done, done, done. Now, I look at the flashing light indicating a message, watch the excited puppy, look around my kitchen in a confused look, not knowing exactly what I needed to handle first or next.
I pick up the phone to dial my VM. I clean out the puppy’s dishes and give her water.
The VM was from my cognitive therapist’s office asking if they could move up my appointment to 10 am or 11am. Ha, it’s already 11:30. The message asked me to call them back to let them know. Now, I feel guilty. Maybe I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I do. My therapist might have been able to go home early, have an extended lunch break if I had called their office back, but I didn’t even get out of bed until 11:30…so now what? Do I call their office back and explain? Do I explain when I go in?
I decide to put it out of my mind and get back to what…..what did I need to do?
(Truly, that’s how my thought process works.)
Excited puppy….she’s looking for love, attention..oh and food. Gave her a scoop of food. Began to walk out of the kitchen.
Wait, I needed to do something else. Medicine.
Started to pop open pill bottles…I think I took all the important ones. I need to eat something with my medications or I get an upset stomach, so I had a few chunks of honey dew melon and half a muffin.
Then I sat down, I was in a complete oblivion as to what to do next.
Hmmm…my cognitive therapy appointment was at 3. Tom was in the shower. My 3 year old daughter was asleep. The puppy was getting extended cuddle time because I had NO clue as to what to do next.
So, I experienced a time warp…this is basically where I apparently don’t do anything for an extended period of time except stare in to space. My mind is completely blank. Around 12:30, I realized I hadn’t really accomplished anything, so I took a shower. Apparently, I got dressed, and I went on Facebook and checked out my email.
When I got to my email, I realized: Oh, shit. I’m hosting my little sister’s baby shower! Yes, I am. It was almost simultaneously that I realized I also have to leave town Sunday night. I have to work Sunday night, and that makes for a really long night when I have to drive at least four hours after I’ve worked a 5 hour shift. And then I took a double dose of the oh, shit factor because I realized Saturday is when we’re doing Easter dinner with my mother-in-law and family. Guess who’s in charge of that?
These are just a few of the things that SUDDENLY popped into my head around 1:15. These are things that would have been at the forefront of my mental processing before I had brain damage. Now, these things magically disappear each night when I go to sleep and by the time I wake up in the morning, they’re still not there.
Ok, so my significant other brought in the mail, and it included several things I had ordered for my sisters baby shower, so this took my focus.
I’ve hosted baby showers before, but this was before my injury. I had no problem hosting things previously, but now I have an extremely difficult time visualizing what I need to do, and I feel the pressure.
(To give myself credit, about 6 months ago, I asked my Mom if I should throw the shower, but she told me everything was taken care of. About two weeks ago, I was told that this wasn’t exactly the case, and I volunteered to do it. Let’s face it, people tend to do things in May and June and this means that if you haven’t sent out invitations in February or March, the likely hood of people going is greatly diminished..so now, I’m a bit frustrated and a bit rushed to get everything done. Ugh.)
So, I’m looking at the decorations and invitations that just arrived in the mail, and I don’t like the colors in either. My sister is having a little girl and the primary colors of the decorations and invitations are yellow, aqua and brown. SO, I spend the next hour searching online for different colors that aren’t dominant in the decorations…a light green and pink.
Because I’m thrifty, I keep going back and forth to different websites finding the decorations that I want, comparing prices and types of things that each vendor has. BUT here’s the problem, because I have issues with concentration, memory and focus, I can’t keep the prices and types of things from each website straight. (Insert huge sigh).
I look at the clock it’s 2:15. Tom is taking my daughter to the doctor. I have to meet with my cognitive therapist, which I’m looking forward to. I haven’t had “lunch”, and I have to be at work at 6, so how is the rest of the day going to work?!
Do I have enough time to go through a drive thru on the way to my appointment? I have half an hour? What am I going to do after my appointment? Should I eat after my appointment? I have to work from 6pm to 11pm, so I’m not going to have a chance to eat dinner. Eating after my appointment would make sense. But, I also need to run to Party City to see if decorations are less expensive there. I get coupons for them, so I might save more money if they have the colors I want.
It is through this mental chaos that I remember two things: I am supposed to mail my MCAT accommodations request at the post office today, and I am supposed to bring my cognitive functioning test results to my appointment today.
It’s at this moment that I’m about to blow a mental gasket. I CAN’T REPROGRAM THE THINGS THAT I WAS GOING TO DO AND WHAT I NOW NEED TO DO!!! To add to my absolute moment of frustration, I can’t stop dwelling on the fact of how I once was able to do all of this stuff without any issue and now can’t, simply can’t remember these things each day.
To me, they aren’t little things. They’re important things. Things I needed to do today, but what happened to my mind during the first 3 hours of the day?
Ok, so now I have to rethink everything, but I CAN’T. So, I do the next best thing, I just DO whatever.
I go to the bedroom and find my test results. As I’m putting them in the proper order, I end up knocking over a stack of papers onto the floor. I look at the bed and realize I have the baby shower decorations scattered across it, but I don’t have time to put them away or to even think about where to put them…so I leave them.
I’m at the front door, when I realize that I forgot the MCAT accommodations request. I grab that, and as I’m walking out the door, I realize I left my purse on my bed.
When I get to my car, I still have no idea as to what I should do next. Lunch? Post Office? Do I have enough time to do both? I’m really hungry now.
I pull out of my condo complex. Which way do I go? One direction will lead to the closest fast food restaurant, the other will take me to the post office.
I pull towards the post office…the entire time thinking about if there are any other fast food restaurants along the way. There aren’t.
I get to the post office and successfully drop off the letter.
I have exactly 12 minutes till my appointment time, and it takes about 15 to get there. Pressure.
I pull into the cognitive therapists office. Get out of the car, lock the doors, get to the door, and then realize I left my testing packet in the front seat. I curse. Return to the car, get my packet and return to the office for my appointment, on time.
It’s at this moment that I feel pretty good.
Remember, I like the cognitive therapy. I really think it’s going to help me.
I explained to Angela that I’m feeling so frustrated because I truly can’t remember what I’ve posted about previously. I don’t remember. I also explained how I really want my blog to be helpful to other people.
So, we looked at it, and she gave me homework. I’m supposed to go through my posts and make a record of the topics that I’ve posted about, kind of like an index for me to reference to. Technically, I’m not supposed to post to my blog until I’ve done it.
Yeah, but here’s the deal: it seems like an overwhelming task. I’ve made over 40 posts. I have to “skim” over 40 posts and make a record before I make another post. (I haven’t skimmed over the 40 posts or made a record. Yes, I’m not following instructions).
And God love her, she gave me more work to do besides that. I have several work sheets that I have to complete before my next session. My next session is next Wednesday.
I really think the assignments she’s given me will be helpful, but I have Easter dinner to host. I have to work. I have to make such a long trip next week. I need to get the baby shower invitations in the mail. Oh, and I have finish my taxes.
By the time I reach my car, my mind is a complete blank again. What to do? Go home? Get something to eat? Go to Party City and then get something to eat? Go get something to eat and then go to Party City?
It was 4:15, and I had to be at work by 6.
I sit in my car for about 10 minutes not certain about what to do next, and then I do what I did earlier. I just start driving without any certainty about what I should do or will do, but at least I’m doing something.
I stop at the intersection. I turn right. Looks like I will be heading to Party City.
I took a wrong turn on the way, but this wrong turn took me to PennStation. Fate, right. Yep, that’s what I had for lunch.
By the time, lunch was over, it was 5pm. I was at Party City by 5:15. The entire time I’m stressed because I have to be at work by 6. It’s rush hour. Will I have enough time to canvas the store and get to work?
It was the moment that I was parking my car, that I remembered: I have a merchandise credit for Party City for more than $40.00. It was also at that very moment that I realized I have NO FREAKING idea what I did with it. UGH!
This annoyance popped into my head and over took everything else.
Party City does not give you a little plastic card for your merchandise credit, they give you a paper receipt. I got a new purse after I made the return. It was a paper certificate.
I had absolutely no memory of it until today when I pulled into their parking lot. It was worth more than $40.00. FREAK. FREAK. FREAK.
Oh, yes folks. I have no idea where it is. It’s not in the papers that I transferred to my new purse. If I saw it at any point before this moment, I probably looked at it like trash and threw it away, and this is BUGGING me to death.
I am absolutely certain this is the reason Party City uses normal receipts as their merchandise certificates because the associate cautioned me: Don’t Lose it. If you lose it, there’ s nothing we can do.
I was tempted to just leave due to my absolute annoyance, but what if their prices were better than online? I would still be saving money.
After a quick investigation, I convinced myself that their prices were indeed better, and have determined that now I have to find the missing merchandise credit/receipt.
As I made it to work by 5:55, I felt exhausted and relieved, but that was short lived because my stats from work weren’t great. I have a commission based job and finding out how poorly I’ve performed this week, really put the pressure on to try to make things better tonight.
Things did go better tonight, but they weren’t good enough, so as I was driving home, everything that I have to do and accomplish in the next few days, has become seemingly impossible.
I really don’t remember all the things that I need to do. My mind is a blank. I think it’s selective processing to protect myself from a complete meltdown.
For instance, my daughter will need to have an endoscopy because of ongoing stomach issues. I forgot to pay the electric bill. I don’t think I paid the mortgage yet either. I really can’t remember. I need to finish getting things for Easter dinner. I need to make a list of things to do for the baby shower. I need to refill prescriptions. Make list of my appointments and what I’m going to discuss.
Oh, I also feel really guilty because I’ve been trying to get salivary cortisol tests submitted from my endocrinologist, but I will remember to do the test one night but forget it the subsequent night. The tests have to be submitted within a week or they’re not valid.
Well, I did the first salivary test Monday night, but forgot to do it Tuesday, so I went ahead and did it in the morning when I remembered that I forgot, and mailed it. Because I knew it would have to be repeated, yet again, I lied and said I did it at the right time. UGH. Now, I’m feeling guilty, but I would have felt equally guilty if I had to call and tell them I screwed it up again. So, do I tell my endocrinologist what I did? Will I have to repeat the cortisol testing again?
I also have to make several return phone calls and emails, but it just seems like there is soooo much other stuff that needs to be done that I really can’t stop to think of those things either.
Tomorrow is my day off, and I am at a complete loss as to what I should do next. There’s so so so much more that I am not remembering, like making a return to Kohl’s, going to the gym or meeting with my personal trainer…oh, the list is never ending and always expanding.
It’s now almost 1am, and instead of venting, I could have accomplished a half dozen things that I should have done, but my little girl is running a fever. I have a headache, and I feel the urge to delve into a pint of my favorite Ben and Jerry’s.
I’ll figure everything else out tomorrow (or in my case, later today 😉
And that’s what it’s like living with EPM. You spend a part of every day feeling just a little bit crazy.