Thinking about my progress, I am wondering a lot about the key ingredients for getting this far. The encouraging results on my most recent neuropsych test, the good progress with my work and my dramatically improved ability to function without collapsing into a meltdown over every little thing… there are myriad ways that I have improved over the past four years, and I can’t help but wonder what the pieces of the puzzle have been.
There is nutrition – keeping clear of junk food whenever possible.
There is exercise – I’m not getting as much as I should, these days, but when I was working out regularly, it made a noticeable difference in my energy and attitude.
There is having someone to talk to regularly, who doesn’t ridicule or judge me – that would be my neuropsych.
There is the conscious breathing and relaxation and stress training that has helped me not only feel better about my situation, but also helps me do better in it.
And of course there is the daily work I do, paying attention to what’s going on with me, and managing my emotions and responses as a matter of course. It’s been very much about starting small and then working my way up, breaking out my daily life into little bite-size pieces which I can take on and manage, a bit at a time. I know I’ve done things in a much more rudimentary way than my neuropsych thinks I should have, but the results are clear, that the way I’ve gone about things, not taking anything for granted and approaching the world with what some call “beginner’s mind” has had some pretty excellent results.
All these things have made a huge difference. And I have treated them like key parts of a training / re-training program for my brain and my life. Because I believe that we don’t come into the world “naturally able” to do things — we have to learn them. And to learn to do them and do them well, we need to train. Daily. Regularly. With rest in between. And with dedication that doesn’t shift with the wind.
It’s like anything you need to learn from scratch — and the thing with TBI is that there actually are things you need to learn from scratch, you just don’t realize it until you’re in the thick of it, or you’re looking back and asking yourself why things turned out the way they did. Looking back, when you see that things didn’t go the way you had intended or hoped, you’ve got to come up with new and inventive ways to do it so that it works better next time. Things might not be perfect, but what is? The main thing is to keep going, keep learning, keep training, and keep observing and improving, even if it is just a little bit at a time.
And most of all, the burning desire to improve, to learn, to adapt, to deal… and get on with living my life for the sake of something bigger than myself… that’s been a key ingredient. Perhaps the most key one of all. ‘Cause all this training takes it out of me, and it would be easy to give up or settle for less. Except that I have this nagging, burning desire to keep getting better, to keep finding out what’s next, to keep moving on past my limits and to find out what else I can learn/do/accomplish from day to day. Some people become more pessimistic from a TBI, while others become more optimistic. Could be, I’m in the latter group — most of the time, anyway …
Well… Speaking of something bigger than myself, it’s time to get ready for work. TGIF!