Figuring it out:
I feel like I have been failing at keeping up with the blog. There have been many changes happening over the past few months that have made it difficult for me to work on this.
One of the greatest challenges has been in job. There has been a mandatory transfer to a new department that has left me mentally drained.
It’s harder than my previous position. It deals with problem solving, and you have to be able to think through situations that can be unique, and I have lost that.
Prior to the injury, I was able to multi task without issue, and I was able to process information and come up with solutions. Now, it can take several other people’s assistance for me to stay focused and on topic.
For instance, I am trying to write this post, and my significant other feels it necessary to play the Inaugural speech. I explained that I didn’t want to listen to it (I’m working on this), so I he moved his laptop into the kitchen so he could listen to it while he cooks. Our place isn’t that big, and so even though it’s not as loud, I can still hear it as if I was playing it myself.
So, my attention drifts, and I’m becoming more irritated as I know that he knows that I have a hard time staying focused in the best of situations.
Frankly, it’s stressful, and I know that if you are dealing with a brain injury or CPM/EPM, that you know exactly to what I am referring.
It’s not an intentional deficit, but it’s a frustrating one.
There are days that I just want to put in ear plugs and bury myself in an underground bunker, so that I can get away from the external crap that bombards me. The dog barking, the neighbors walking, the smell that I can’t figure out where it is coming from, a light, a noise, a sigh, a cramp, a door shutting, my son playing video games, all of these stimuli crash down on me constantly!!! It pulls at my focus. I simply can’t shut the freaking things out all the time, especially if I’m tired or stressed.
It’s absolutely exhausting. It takes so much time for me to pull myself back to what I was doing, and that’s what makes doing my job so hard.
There are days when everything seems normal, like I seem normal, but then there are days when it feels like I’m going to explode or implode from stimulation overload.
(Like just now, I remembered I wanted to contact someone new that I know has a brain injury. I want to get back to several friends that are currently suffering from CPM to find out how they are doing, but by the end of this post, I will probably not remember again. You never know.)
This is where my cognitive and occupational therapist come into play. I am extremely blessed to have two of the best therapists in the world. When I work with them, it is exhausting and stressful, but they can direct me and ground me back to what I need to do.
Ironically, they currently believe that the best thing for me to do is nothing. They have suggested on numerous occasions in the past nine months that I stop working. However, if you are like me, that is probably not possible.
I am writing this post to pass along some of the insights that they have given me.
Initially, they felt that if I came to a point where I was getting stuck, that I should keep pushing forward.
If I couldn’t figure out a word, then I should keep pushing myself to try to figure out the word that I wanted to use. If I couldn’t remember exactly what I wanted to say (lost my train of thought), then I should keep working through the words and trying to explain what it was that I wanted to say.
They felt that this would help develop new neural paths, retrain my brain.
They recently discovered through conferences that this just creates additional stress on the person, and it might have a more negative impact on recovery.
It just goes to show you, nothing is set in stone. There may not be an universal answer. I think you have to use a combination that’s best for you.
They have also come to the conclusion (and this has been one that they have been saying for a while), less is more.
You have to try to eliminate stress. You have to downsize your responsibilities. I guess it goes back to the idea that you have to learn to crawl before you learn to walk.
So, if you have a hard time keeping up with your daily responsibilities, you should try to transfer those responsibilities to the person(s) in charge of your care.
For instance, today, I’ve had a very full plate. For me, post injury, I consider this a full plate, but if you’re a caregiver you might be like, that’s nothing. Keep in mind, after having a brain injury, it is difficult to get much of anything done.
My to do list for Today:
1.) Take my medications
2.) Have breakfast
3.) Go to the gym
4.) Pick up prescriptions
5.) Make fajita marinade and season chicken
6.) Go to the grocery store and buy additional chicken
7.) Write a letter my supervisor
8.) Write a letter to our human resource department
9.) Call the mortgage company (not sure if mailed payment)
10.) Mail Thank You card
11.) Mail invitations
12.) Clean out car
13.) Write to Cedar Fair
14.) Check for Shoes
15.) Pay bills
16.) Write blog post
17.) Check on status of portrait (order placed in November)
What I actually did:
1.) Made fajita marinade
2.) Went to the grocery store and bought chicken
3.) Wrote a letter to my supervisor
4.) Wrote a letter to my human resource department
5.) Wrote a letter to my lawyer
6.) Worked on my blog post
7.) Called the mortgage company
This was a full day for me. I’m exhausted now. I’m ready for a break, and that was the point of my therapists. Prior to this, I would feel guilty for not getting everything done or I would chastise myself.
You can’t do that. You do have to simplify. You also have to prioritize. Were the things that I did today necessary? For the most part, yes.
You need to put you first, and make rational decisions on what is WORTH your physical and mental energy, and you have to be accepting of your decisions with the knowledge that they are, for the most part, not set in stone.
The Building blocks to rebuilding you:
1.) Let go of what stresses you.
2.) Simplify your responsibilities where you can.
3.) Accept that you have new limits.
4.) Be happy with your decisions.
5.) Understand that you, for the most part, can change your mind.
6.) Prioritize your responsibilities based on what is worth your physical and mental energy.
I hope this foundation helps you in moving forward in your brain injury recovery.