Conquer motivation after brain injury

Why it’s so difficult to conquer motivation after brain injury?

One of the most commonly reported symptoms of brain injury is fatigue. And I don’t mean tiredness.  Fatigue is something much worse. For me I can be willing, but my brain has other ideas. Sometimes I think my conscious mind and sub-conscious don’t like each other and are always having an argument.  The result might make me appear lazy to the casual observer, but that isn’t the whole story. The ongoing battle is within me, as I try to conquer motivation.

When I tried to return to work (and failed) my bosses tried to tell me I needed to take some responsibility for my recovery. My left leg and arm were very weak, and they were surprised that I hadn’t joined a gym to rebuild my strength. At that stage I had never been a gym goer. But the idea of trying to do something like that without being ordered to was unfathomable.  When I was suffering with so much fatigue, how was I supposed to find the motivation?

Even things like tidying the house took so much building up to. But over time I have noticed something about myself. I knew it before, but I hadn’t appreciated it’s power over me previously.

i-am-strong-because-i-have-been-weak

The impact on others gives me more motivation than the impact on me.

9 months after my accident I adopted my Dads cat Murphy, who he was struggling to care for. I knew Murphy was ill, and it turned out to be mouth cancer. I had known Murphy his whole life as I lived at my parents when Murphy first arrived. We were best mates, and so I moved him to the other side of the country with me so I could look after him.

He was skinny and very underweight. As he had no appetite so I spent all day, everyday chasing him with food, trying to make him eat. Murphy became one of my priorities. I knew he didn’t have time on his side, but I needed to make him as comfortable as possible. And it worked, I soon got him back to a healthy weight. He found new energy and found the motivation to explore outside several times a day. That made me so happy. He was my reason to get out of bed in the mornings, because he needed me more now than he had ever in his life. Earlier this year he lost his battle, but he knew he was loved.

Others well-being is my motivation

How I motivate myself now.

So if I need to tidy the house, I tell myself how it’s not fair on my partner James if I don’t. He works long hard days, so I can’t expect him to do it after work. Nor should I expect him to have to live in a pig sty. So I tell myself off and get on with it. (Followed by a impromptu nap.)

I did eventually join a gym and was doing really well. But that has fallen by the wayside, as it only helps  me. I don’t think this is about confidence or self esteem, just having a purpose. I was always a dedicated worker, but now I don’t work I’ve had to explore other ways  to motivate myself.

When I started this blog, it wasn’t as therapy for myself, it was to raise awareness. I felt people needed to better understand brain injury. Now I know there are other survivors who read this and in some small way find it helpful. So my responsibility is to you, and therefore you are my motivation to continue my ramblings. So my advice is if you struggling to get going think who really needs you to complete that task. It could be as simple as the birds in your garden need you to put some food out for them to ensure their survival. We make a difference to somebodies life every day, that is a most profound motivation for me.

If you need more ideas on motivation I found this article which is suitable for most people.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/friendship-20/201605/5-ways-stop-sabotaging-yourself

Other related articles:

What tips do you have about finding the motivation when you’re struggling with fatigue?

How to muster the motivation when you have a brain injury, despite fatigue...

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11 Replies to “Conquer motivation after brain injury”

  1. I thought this was a marvelous description! I read parts of it aloud to my husband (who is also a ‘James”, to help him understand me 🙂 I feel this lack of motivation every day of my life and I fight it as best as I can — I am 20 years out this year. Thank you for the article, it was very helpful <3

    1. You’re welcome, I’m glad it was helpful. As I said you guys are my motivation for continuing with my blog, so each time someone tells me how it helped them it eggs me on 🍳 🙂

  2. I do the one day on, one day off, until the weekend. Then it’s 2 days off. Like, off-grid off! The days I’m on, I’m very motivated to keep doing things. I know pain & fatigue it’s often how we survive and I’m not suggesting it’s a perfect plan however it kinda works for me? Ironically, mine is also right side brain, left side body. My left arm doesn’t work at all and my left leg works only because I make it. I miss the gym as I used to go before my radiation treatment. Good on you!😄

    1. Helen I love that despite things are clearly different for you now you are positive and pushing yourself when and where you can.

  3. I had the worst time with neuro-fatigue–I call it bone fatigue. For 2 years after my TBI, just taking a shower I would exhaust me. It’s been over 4 years now and I still have days when I’m overwhelmed with fatigue, but I’m much better. It’s too early to tell but I believe I may have found the answer to this problem.

    Shortly after my accident, I read that the military was finding a high incidence of hypothalamus/pitutary dysfunction in soldiers with TBI. These master glands in the brain control the entire endocrine system and can be damaged due to a TBI. It can cause problems with cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, human growth hormone–all of the hormones produced by the endocrine system.

    In my case it caused my hypothyroidism to get much worse and my regular medication no longer worked. My temperature had dropped as low as 96.2 degrees and was rarely higher than 97.0. I had also lost some hair and was tired and cold all of the time.

    Three different doctors tested me and I did have this problem but they didn’t know how to treat it so they did nothing. It took me over 3 yrs. to find a doctor who would treat me for a problem called Reverse T3.

    It’s a relatively new discovery and my endocrinologist said treatment is all experimental and at this time she wouldn’t treat me until there are years of scientific studies to develop a treatment.

    I did my own research and found what was working for most people and I finally found a doctor who is helping me experiment with the right natural medication.

    The first month, I had 6 or7 days when I felt almost like my old self. In the past 3 months I’ve had at least 1/3 of the days that I’ve felt very close to normal. Not just fatigue, brain fog, short term memory, etc., but my headaches and myofascial pain are also better.

    Those days have given me hope. If I’m right, this could help so many people with TBI. It truly feels like a miracle!

    The testing and treatment are very inexpensive and covered by most insurance companies. It seems a little complex at first, as it’s not the traditional tests used for thyroid problems. It’s not really complex at all, but it’s not yet understood by many doctors. If anyone is interested I will be happy to share what I’ve learned.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I also had hypothyroidism after my accident, but as I have been board line for almost 2 decades I hadn’t thought it might have been affected by my injury. I for one would love to hear more about it.

      1. I’ve had hypothyroidism since my early 20’s, but with each TBI all of my symptoms got worse. I didn’t suspect that it had anything to do with my TBI’s until I read the article about the soldiers.

        This link explains how the endocrine system can be affected by TBI. There are many other scholarly articles that address this problem, but this one is easier to understand.

        https://www.nahypothyroidism.org/traumatic-brain-injury-a-cause-of-hypothyroidism/

        There are 2 good sites that give info on Reverse T3–Stop the Thyroid Madness (STTM) and Hypothyroid Mom. Many doctors refer their patients to these sites to give them a better understanding of hypothyroidism.

      1. Hi Marilyn,

        Did you read the information I gave Michelle regarding hypothalamus/pituitary dysfunction? Also, the hypothyroid and reverse T3 information? I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much all at once. There are many possibilities after a TBI. Reverse T3 just happens to be the problem I have. If you’ve read all of the information and think you may have this problem I will be happy to share with you what I’ve learned. There are specific tests that most doctors don’t know about. So, let me know if I can help.

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