Monday, July 8, 2013

Keeping the balls in the air and the ducks in a row

Today the balls were flying about everywhere and the ducks were running in many directions. My little broken brain just could not keep all the balls in the air while I was rounding up the ducks. I am everyone to my family.Whatever they need,I make it happen.I am shopper,nurse,laundress,therapist,maid,yardman,car detailer, and Mom. Multi-tasking is enough to make anyone tired.Simple truth is....I was exhausted.So,I temporarily let some balls fall.Brain injury people find it difficult to disengage from things they feel passionate about. They seem to repeat the same mantra,I think I can, I think I can,I think I can. I am a perfectionist. I want everything in order. As a TBI survivor, I have trouble keeping everything in order.

Today, two added pieces of my life's puzzle were thrown into my day. It was too much for me to handle. I had a family concern that caused me to be sad. The situation required my brain to address those feelings.And, a former co-worker contacted me by e-mail. She is a part of my past that is very painful to remember.

I lost my job due to my brain injury.In my job as a department head in a nursing home,I felt pressured because I couldn't work at my prior level. My TBI hindered my ability to run my office and keep up with all my responsibilities.I tried to keep up with everything. I was accused of not listening,not being interested, not being friendly. The truth is that my brain injury made it hard for me to concentrate and focus. And, I was working so hard to keep up and stay ahead of my staff that I forgot to remind myself to smile.All the interruptions and demands that disturbed my efforts to get my work done were very harmful to me. It wasn't that I was unfriendly, I was just overworked and stressed.

I was trying to manage conversations and responsibilities in a tiny office with at least three other people who were trying to carry on their jobs and details of their private lives.I was held to a standard of perfection that I had set before I was injured. Co-workers expected to see the old Sylvia and her creativity and level of expertise. That Sylvia died in a four car collision. Her life was gone. I, a broken replica, was left to gather the shattered and forgotten pieces of her life and create something useful out of them.

Today,I felt unraveled by the added stress of the day. I had to take some time to allow my brain to slow down and become calm. I drove to the park and sat in my car reading an inspirational book while the caregiver took care of my family member allowing me the gift of a small respite.

I have a TBI, an injury that would require special understanding in the workplace-as a blind or deaf person's injury would. A person with no legs would be given the help needed to accommodate his workplace needs.I suffered unmercifully in my workplace because of lack of knowledge of TBI and lack of empathy for my injury.In the middle of a million dollar renovation my office was untouched. The renovations stopped at my door. A baby grand piano was permanently moved to within one foot of my door. Loud programs were held right outside while I was trying to work and concentrate.Nothing was done during this renovation to make my workplace more accommodating.I have hear the stories of other survivors and how they have been able to remain in their chosen fields. Accommodations were made and coworkers were educated about TBI. This is as it should be.

No survivor should be forced to sit in a meeting with another co-worker who formally accuses that they have no brain injury-that they are lying and that they are pretending to be sick. This happened to me. Over and over, I have heard stories of mainstream society refusing to validate the existence of a person's brain injury. Survivors are often accused of pretending. Because our injuries sometimes can't be seen,TBI is often referred to as an invisible disability.

Why would anyone want to falsely imply that they have a brain injury? That information certainly wouldn't serve to advance you to your goals. The only reason would be to get disability payments. That is not a goal, it is a compensation for what you have lost. It doesn't make up for what you might have been able to accomplish if you were allowed to pursue your dreams.This ignorance and lack of information causes much suffering to brain injury survivors who already are dealing with such tremendous pain and loss.

I was accused of being rude when I shooed co-workers away with a hand when they interrupted while I was trying to carry on business phone conversations. I heard their blended office conversations, overhead speaker announcements, conversations from the next room,radio sounds,computer sounds and more. All this stimuli was coming at me while I was trying to process the business conversation that I was engaged in on the phone. I waved them away as a coping mechanism to be able to do my job. They could have educated themselves about traumatic brain injury and the difficulties of processing information with the hindrance of not being able to properly filter sounds.

By creating this site I hope to educate the public and doctors about Traumatic Brain Injury survivors. That will be my legacy-to keep others from enduring the pain that I have encountered. We must educate,educate,educate and then hopefully,we will be supported by the medical profession, our employers and peers.

Please be kind to yourself. Don't be so down on yourself about what you are no longer able to do. Parts of you don't work so well anymore-but,parts of you are exquisite and you still deserve to be loved. Check out my other blog it features my Etsy shop and my newest design, a shabby rose necklace that is shattered on the inside but is (normal) perfectly intact on the outside. It was created as a reminder that even though we are broken,we are beautiful and worthy of love.