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I can’t do it all:


I’ve been at a breaking point for weeks now. It seems like when you think you can’t handle one more thing, five more things are forced upon you.

All of the things that I’ve been going through over the past few weeks are related to having a brain injury, and it has made me SO angry, and so upset because there is nothing that I can do about it.

I’m stuck living with it, and there’s nothing more that I can do to fix it. Don’t get me wrong, I am trying to fix it still. I’ve just started taking several new medications to help with the things like pain in my hands, cramping, shaking, etc. I’m going to start taking medicines for ADHD to see if that will help with my focus, and I will start taking anti-depressants to see if that can help make me happy that I have a brain injury and have lost everything I was working so hard to achieve over the past few years.

You know, I’m just going to say this. I think people, doctors, therapists, all believe that when life hands you shit, you should smile about it and exclaim how fantastic it is and not feel horrible that you’ve been handed a whole load of shit.

If you lose the love of your life or a child, and spend the next few months crying over that, they believe that you need antidepressants. They believe you are depressed. I wonder what people did before they had antidepressants?

They mourned, and it was an expectation. They wore black. They stayed inside. They didn’t participate in normal social activities, but somewhere along the way, we began denying ourselves this process, and began to feel that if you were upset that the man/woman you lived with for 50 years died, that you should start taking antidepressants to help get you through it.

Now, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t. I could simply argue that people would have used anti-depressants if they had them available. We have advancements in medicine that make these wonderful new medicines available, so why shouldn’t we take advantage of them?

But, I think there is a need to find the middle.

For weeks, I’ve been struggling with the stress of dealing with lawyer stuff, family issues, work issues, health problems and then the disheartening realization that I am still unable (at this time) to return to studying for the MCAT. AND it really hit home this week that this totally SUCKS, and it’s completely unfair, and there is nothing that I can do about it.

I have SO much stress directly related to having a brain injury, and it could have been prevented. It SHOULDN’T have happened!!!

No matter what happens, I will never receive enough compensation to make up for what I have lost, and at this point, I don’t think I’ll receive any compensation for what I have lost.

So, I was at my cognitive therapist appointment and tearing up at the idea that they want me to do more there as well. I’m just so fried mentally, emotionally, etc that the idea of doing these worksheets that a 7 year old would have no problem doing about caused me to have a complete breakdown.

And then to make it even worse, my therapist looked over at me and told me that I would need to start taking antidepressants or I would need to give up things that I was already doing or wanted to do. She told me that I needed to stop doing things in order to get better because if I was so overwhelmed when I came in to work with her, then I would not be able to do anything that they needed me to do.

Of course this makes sense. If I’m so stressed out that the thought of doing mental tasks that they require me to do sends me into a tizzy, then they really can’t do anything for me.

This ramped up my anxiety and stress by 80. I mean, my therapist understands me, and she has helped me so greatly over the past several months. She KNOWS and UNDERSTANDS what I’m going through. She has the answers, and she’s a fantastic person and a wonderful friend, and if there is anyone who is going to help me get back to “normal” then it is her.

What am I going to do if I lose her too?

So, I’m left with the choice of going on antidepressants or stopping therapy. There really is no choice. I’ve already made the call to my doctor.

I have to say that even I don’t cotton to the idea of going on antidepressants, I understand why my cognitive therapist wants me to do it. I’m functioning on the edge of about completely losing it every day. She can’t work with that. And, I spend a good portion of my therapy time discussing how crazy my life is and how stressful it is, and that adds extra stress to her life.

As she put it, she sees a younger version of herself in me (sans the brain injury), and it is physically and mentally exhausting to see me make the same mistakes that she made.

In the end, she said, I can’t do it all, and I spent the night wondering what was I supposed to give up. How was I supposed to give something  up? I can’t very well go home, and say to my kids or Tom, well, I’m sorry. I’m unavailable for anything any longer, fend for yourselves. I can’t call the lawyer and say, sorry if you need answers to the questions that you want me to answer, figure it out on your own. I can’t call my disability insurance company and say, too bad if you need medical records, I have brain damage so screw you. I can’t walk into work and say, I’m just going to stare at a wall for the next 5 hours, don’t bother me.

So what am I supposed to stop doing? I have no flipping clue.

That night, I went to my psychologists office, and I’m going through all the same stressful things that I went over at my cognitive therapists office. I was overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed. What am I supposed to do?

Can you imagine my surprise when she told me that I needed to start taking medicines for ADD? She felt that I had a long standing issue with ADD, but that the brain damage has just pushed it over the edge. She believes that taking medicines for ADD would really help ground me and help keep me on task.

At this point, I will try anything. Truly, I think I will try anything. So, I added that to the list of things to see my doctor for. But, then she told me something else, she told me that I needed to give something up, that I can’t do it all. It was hard enough for someone who didn’t have a brain injury to try to accomplish what everyone wants or expects me to accomplish, so I shouldn’t put that extra pressure on myself to be perfect or to do everything that everyone wants me to do.

Here it was, two people, two extremely smart, extremely wise women telling me that I was going to have to stop trying to do everything. I have to accept that I can’t do the same things that I used to do, no matter how unfair it was. I have to stop telling myself, I used to be able to… Having that mentality, holding onto the past, will keep me from moving forward in the future. Wow, right?!

I have to learn to accept and be able to say: I can’t do it all.


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6 thoughts on “I can’t do it all:

  1. I’m glad you pinged me (although I’m never really sure exactly what all these things I’m supposed to approve and respond to and moderate expect me to DO about them, since I’m not exactly sure what they are. (No, I’m not a dunce, but I do believe that, in addition to being the ADD Poster Girl, I have developed Technical Alzheimers [TA – ::forced smile::] in the last half decade!)

    I am ALSO beginning to show signs of incipient atypical rage disorder [ARD] that, like my TA, has a fairly specific mechanism of action (i.e., target): idiot doctors and therapists (see Top Ten Stupid Comments from ADD Docs on my blog for great example of my particular subtype of “ARD”).

    Which is all a preamble to the point of my comment: BOY can I relate to your breaking point anger!! It took me a l-o-n-g time to reach my breaking point, but I am finally at the place where I seem to have NO tolerance for certain things: flash fire warning to all idiots who don’t have the good sense to keep your mouth SHUT about your misinformed **opinion** about ADD if I am anywhere in your county – *read* the damned research or keep your trap SHUT!

    I can’t tell you how much you lightened MY load tonight by being “out there” with how angry you are – it’s been an unusually anger-inspiring month in my own life. Thank you.

    I have had several decades of trying to do the Brittish thing (stiff upper lip) and feeling like I had to force myself to embrace the point of view that “making lemonaide” was a GOOD gratitude exercise that almost made up for the fact that, at times, I didn’t have a life worth living — and, of course, in my role as an ADD Pro I want to inspire my clients and students to keep on keeping on — but the truth is that IT SUCKS on a personal level to have to work twice as hard for half as much. It’s exhausting and demoralizing when your brilliance is trapped in a brain that forces you to “work around” when everybody else seems to have one that simply works.

    In my experience, the Pollyanna approach doesn’t work – but I HAVE had to learn a new meaning of the term “detachment” to be willing to get back up off the mat when life knocks me down AGAIN (without feeling like I’ve gone straight to denial).

    BY THE WAY – *your* clinicians sound unusually good, I’m not aiming my irk at them!! – the anecdotal on ADD Meds and TBI is good (similar struggles for similar, brain-based reasons — similar treatments make just TOO much sense) — I have had good reports on Vyvanse – and recent reports of efficacy with PTSD may finally provide a rationale for the continued existance of Stratera (non-stim that does NOT have particularly good reports with most types of ADD).

    You lucked out in one regard at least. Your “wise women” seem to be caring, able to show up as human beings, still willing and able to step over nothing, AND willing to go “cutting edge” with you (rather than waiting 20 years for enough studies on 12 year old boys to be published that the “old guard” will tentatively agree that it might be good to try something “off label.” )

    I would love it if you would list their names in the comments section of “Occupy ADD” so others in your situation and locale might be able to find decent care too — ADDers aren’t great with follow-through, so its going to be a slow, no matter how important, build as I continue to encourage everyone to please DO that.

    There are so many CRAPPY professionals out there, the intent of that post is to develop a list (dare I hope, a referal database?) that acknowledges the GOOD ones so that maybe their intractibly ignorant colleagues might eventully get a clue, update their information-base, or find it impossible to make a living!! (I will NEVER understand why ADD seems to be the only field where it is ok to hang out a shingle without knowing the first thing about your supposed specialty and it is NOT clearly labeled malpractice.)

    MOVING RIGHT ALONG . . . Everybody’s different, so nobody’s experience really relates but, for what its worth, I have been on ADD meds successfully for over twenty years (sans habituation). I would not want to live without them, personally, even if I knew for a FACT that even 10 words of what the sensationalist sound-bite press prints and clue-free fear-based bloggers turned out to be true (it won’t!).

    ANYWAY – my personal advise is to take their advice (your treatment pros, not the bloggers) – you’ll still HAVE your anger, but IT won’t have *you* quite as much (my experience anyway) — and increasing dopamine bioavailability has a HIGH likelihood of helping you be able to develop systems to help you compensate for the parts you seem to be missing at present, which will certainly help lift the shroud of hopelessness.

    Sub-clinical dosing of the SSRI type of antidepressent (if indicated in your case), helps cingulate struggles (shifting focus at will) as well as mood — not well known, but the true experts do agree. If you are a candidate, distractions (internal or external) won’t be so annoying when you can shift BACK more easily, compensating somewhat for short-term memory deficits — especially helpful in family dynamics. (my **experience** as well as 20 years of experience of the reports from clients etc. – but I am NOT a doctor, etc. so not licensed to diagnose or treat – yada, yada, yada – my disclaimer attempt that keeps me from going over the edge legally)

    “Pills don’t teach skills” as they say – but I agree with your therapist that having them on board sure makes a difference in one’s availability and ability to learn those skills!! Also, you sound unusually intelligent (gifted range, perhaps?) and cognitive deficits are especially difficult for us. (Yale’s Thom Brown is your source for “gifted and ADD” content, btw – if your reading skills are up to him – his writing is more “scholarly” than. “self-help,” so many with ADD and/or TBI simply can’t stay tracked on the info. If you can, it’s well worth the time spent, IMHO – titles in my Brain-based Books post and a link to his site in my Brain-Based Blogs & Websites).

    Keep telling yourself that “dumbing down” and “making friends with the reality that you simply cannot do ‘it all'” are NOT the same thing, even though “underfunctioning” is distressing in a manor that those who don’t experience cognitive deficits will NEVER get.

    It is a HUGE task to get beyond the “twice as hard/half as much” hurdles, but it IS possible to do it, even if you continue to have more than your share of “those days” (I still do).

    I also encourage you to allow yourself to try some of the mindfulness approaches (in addition, not in place of). They do seem to help. My theory is that they enroll white matter support to compensate for grey matter deficits, but nobody has a clue, really – we simply don’t have technology advanced enough to allow us to know much of anything for sure at this time – new research on the importance of glial cells looks promising, however).

    I’m sending White Light your way, will backlink this page on part 2 of the TBI posts in draft – to post shortly — I’ll ping you when it’s up. I can’t do everything either (and BOY do I hate that) – but “shortly.”

    Thanks again for your link — Courage Camille!

    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC
    – cofounder of the ADD Coaching field –
    (blogging at ADDandSoMuchMore and ADDerWorld – dot com!)
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    • Hi, Madelyn.

      Thanks for your reply! Boy that’s a lot to dissolve. I am smart, but I’ve lost that ability to sit down and read things and comprehend them, so this will take me a long time to dissolve.
      It’s funny how that works because after a point (sometimes that can be just a few sentences) I really only distinguish words.

      I was on track to become a doctor with the hopes and dream that I could change people’s lives, but that’s now so off in the future that it’s likely to never happen. 😦
      I don’t understand why things happen, but it seems that there’s always a positive turn of events when they don’t go my way. I just have to wait and that has never been my character.

      Anyway, the main points that I think I gathered from your post is: the medication can be beneficial, and you think I should try it. And you think that I’m right in the aspect that life does suck at points, and you agree that people should stop feeling that they have to maintain that, Cheerio, it’s all good, attitude when they’ve just been slammed with a devastating blow. I agree.

      I appreciate the information that you’ve left, and I will try to go back through reply a few more times to try to capture all of your terrific advice. I’m interested in the Yale guy, and some of the other things you targeted, so I appreciate your taking the time to read my post and respond 🙂
      Truly, sometimes, I wonder if I am helping people when I do this or if I am just sending stuff into the cyber world to never be seen again 🙂


  2. I absolutely know where you are coming from, how on earth do you decide where to draw the line? Which part of your life do you choose to hold back on, to give yourself time to heal? I too have had to learn, but as you say we cannot stop everything because who would look after the kids, the family things, looking after yourself?
    The only way I could start to find just a small way, was to give myself a little more thought. I guess we forget to care for ourselves when trying to look after all the day to day things in life.
    So take a bubble bath instead of a quick shower, sit down to eat rather than on the run. Take half an hour each day for yourself, to read a magazine or watch a short programme.
    When you start doing these small things, remembering to give time to yourself as well as everyone else. Then you can start to heal, very slowly bit by bit.
    Then try to build your “self time” up just a little more, until you have enough to fit in around the rest of what you feel you HAVE. to do.
    Because of course we still HAVE things to do, we cannot stop our lives.
    I say all this but believe me, I know it’s hard. That’s because I am still learning myself, but I don’t have the bubble baths every now and then. I do make myself sit down and watch a programme, or read a short while.
    It is going to take time, but one day at a time, one change at a time hun.
    I hope I have helped just a little, take care of yourself hun x

    • Thank you for your support and feedback. I tell you what, sometimes it feels like you’re the only one who feels this way in the world, and when you find out from other people that they share some of the same issues, it really helps.

      I think one of the hardest things for me to do, is to know where to draw the line. I don’t know which of these things in my life can be cut out or be reduced, so the way I handle it is to not do anything. I try to still juggle all of the balls without changing anything.

      I don’t know how to change what I’m doing. I don’t know how to figure out which is not as important as the other, so then the task of trying to eliminate something becomes just as difficult and frustrating.
      I think you have fantastic ideas. It is important for me to make time for myself each day. It’s especially more necessary as I recover from this injury, and I think that is also part of the problem. I don’t get as much done as I used to, and I give myself a lot of grief over that.

      I really don’t have a lot of answers for what I need to do, but I think I need to apply some of the earlier pearls of wisdom from my therapists, I need to be kinder to myself.

      I think I will start by having a slice of cheesecake 😉 Thank you for your response and advice!

      • I know, I give myself grief too. Trouble is we have to try to find just a few minutes each day just for ourselves, even if it is only ten minutes to start with.
        Otherwise we will begin to forget who we were, that’s when we actually DO become our condition. We disappear behind our illness, and that’s all people begin to see us as. Just another sufferer with a problem.
        Take that ten minutes to start with hun, then aim for another ten minutes later in the day.
        You can do it, because you have to. Because it is for you!
        Take care hun x

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