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.
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.
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.