Wednesday, March 21, 2012

new metaphor for living with a brain injury

I recently came up with a new metaphor for living with a brain injury. I belong to a BI support group that is not all that supportive because there are too many people. Our coordinator told us that she would soon be dividing us into 2 groups that will meet on different days. Folks wondered how the split would work and our leader said she was not sure yet. Why don't you make a positive group and a negative group? I quipped. The "negative" people all laughed. Although I place myself in the negatives, I think of us more as realists and the others as dreamers.

I do not find it helpful when members of the group talk about regaining skills they lost or accessing their pre-injury brain which is still there somewhere.

So here is my metaphor:

Imagine, if you will, that you used to live in a beautiful town, maybe Santa Barbara. You drove on coastal highways in a convertible and you had a year-round tan. Sure, you worked hard and had problems like the next guy, but life was good. Then one day you woke up and found yourself living in Times Square in New York City. The sights, the sounds, the smells were overwhelming. Little by little, you began to realize how far you were from Santa Barbara and that reality was devastating. Nobody was holding your job for you in case you came back.

All the people with brain injuries are in this predicament (in my metaphor). The dreamers focus on walking back to Santa Barbara. They know it is still there somewhere to the west and they are sure they can make it back. They congratulate themselves on each step closer. "Hey, look! I can see the Hudson River! California, here I come."

The realists adapt to life in this overwhelming, crazy new urban environment. Maybe they use ear plugs or sunglasses. Maybe they hire a guide to help them get around. They struggle to learn how to use the subway system. Adaptation is the goal.

It is like they say in A.A. It's fine to glance at the rear view mirror but if you stare at it, you are not looking where you are going. We all know what happens when you do not look where you are going.

Monday, March 12, 2012

TBI friends and communication issues

Mercury is in retrograde right now. It does not concern me that I don't know exactly what that means. It's something about Mercury's position relative to the sun and earth. Apparently, when this occurs, communication errors abound. Add in a TBI and prepare to enter an unprecedented state of confusion.

I sometimes feel like I am getting used to misunderstanding and being misunderstood. It feels like it happens in about 50% of my verbal interactions, both written and spoken. Most of the time, the results are mildly inconvenient or hardly noticed but when it is bad, it is really bad. What makes it worse is the TBI tendency to perseverate.

I start out feeling offended by what someone says. To the other person, I look angry, combative, sad or hostile. Sometimes, I lash out. Then, I begin to realize that my perceptions are not accurate. I struggle to set straight my initial reaction, while at the same time trying to understand the reality. I also want clarity. I want the other person to know what I thought. If that is not what was said, then I need it repeated or explained or justified. If I have not already shut down further attempts at discourse, I certainly will begin the process now.

A cacophony of thoughts battle for articulation. 

What did you say? Why did you say... I thought you said... 
Maybe, this time I am right. 
Why are you angry at me? What did I do? What did I say? 
I can fix this. 
I need to show you how what you said made me feel defensive. 
Why don't you want to hear it? 
I thought you cared. Maybe, I didn't misunderstand. 
Please explain it again. 
But if you said ... 

NO! Explain! I need to understand! 

Come back! 

Why are you running away?

There are a couple more weeks of until Mercury stops wreaking havoc. Until then, I will take a vow of silence. Starting now! Not another word.

Oh, shit. Forget that. I mean starting now. Wish me luck.

Argh! Starting NOW!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pictures of food are boring

Why do bloggers post pictures of food?

I follow several design/home decorating/style blogs and inevitable there will be a photo of some dish or meal. It maybe something they made or bought or just what they are about to eat, but who cares? I know what food looks like. Are we imbeciles? Just eat it.

I unsubscribe from any blog that posts pictures of food. BORING!