Complacent but not carefree after brain injury

When I entered my first full time job at 18, it was made clear to me how important attention to detail was. Whilst being human means we all make mistakes, I carried through that key basic with me throughout my career. But 2 years after my brain injury I can see something has changed. I can be complacent about things that previously I would have put extra time and effort into.

“That will do, they won’t mind.”

When wrapping presents for others, I always got comments on my skills. I was trained when I was 21 to be able to wrap perfectly and at speed for customers whilst they watched you, to the standard Chanel used to demand. Don’t worry, I’m not about to bore you to death by giving you a step by step guide on how to get a professional finish. So I made sure anyone who I cared about enough for me to buy a gift for got AT LEAST the same standard I used to give customers.

But as my coordination is lightly off, as is my vision, I now produce much less remarkable wrapped presents. I probably could create something as good as before with extra time and effort, but I’m more complacent about it now. I find I tell myself that they probably won’t care or notice, so that will do. And whilst it is true all the people on my gift list care more about the thought that is put into deciding on a present, I do think they enjoyed how special I made their gifts look before.

“Who am I trying to impress, it doesn’t matter what I look like.”

I would have said I was always well presented. Not over the top or especially glamorous, but I always would have looked smartly dressed. Now though, I care a lot less for my appearance. Only if I’m seeing someone I haven’t seen for a long time do I bother to put on even a flick of mascara. I realise part of that is growing up. Younger ladies worry too much about their appearance, but I really am complacent now. It doesn’t bother me to open the door when I have already changed into my PJ’s and have crazy messy hair piled on top of my head. Previously I would have made James do it, even if was only in his dressing gown after having a shower.

Focusing on what matters.

There are many ways in which my life has changed in the last 2 years. Mostly, but not all due to my brain injury. But as I still suffer from fatigue, short attention span and physical weakness, to name a few, I have to choose my battles. I feel like I aged 10 years over night and my priorities had to change. Now making things look pretty is something I still like the idea of, but I can’t execute any more. Is my complacent attitude just my way of trying to excuse myself? Perhaps.

Some days I am still terrified of the future. I still can’t plan more than a few days at a time. So any task I commit to doing I have to finish within an allotted period of time so I doesn’t drag on forever. That extra time and effort could turn into a massive disaster for me if I obsess too much about one thing, and then fail to complete the task altogether. So don’t think I have a carefree attitude, because actually it’s quite the opposite. I have to accept my limitations. So I can spend my time and energy wisely on things that matter, and I care dearly about. We only live once, so we have to prioritise.

You can read more about concentration issues in Distracted after brain injury. Feeling dejected.

Do you think you have become more complacent after brain injury? What’s your highest priority now?

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6 Replies to “Complacent but not carefree after brain injury”

  1. This blog really rings true with me, I am midst of wrapping some Christmas presents, my first Christmas since the brain surgery. I am finding the hand, eye co-ordination difficult, my judgement is way off when cutting paper, tape and ribbon. What was an enjoyable experience has become an exhausting task. I don’t want to be deafeated by such an easy task, but have fallen into the trap to keep going until am so ‘ brain strained’ that fatigue comes in minutes and floors me. Then I am frustrated that this brain injury has got the better of me again! Why do I keep pushing myself?
    So have had a stern word with myself today, that if I am doing a task that takes more brain power, then that is ALL I am doing today. I will try to set myself small tasks that I can complete and achieve that don’t drain me and leave me so fatigued. I have to keep reminding myself this is recovery, it’s not being defeated, it’s part of your life adjustment with a brain injury.
    If I don’t make my recovery the best, I am also affecting those around me that are to deal with me being unable to anything, because I’ve done it again. It’s ok to say no, after all we know ourselves better than anyone else, but don’t be too hard on yourselves if you get it wrong, your probably are doing much better than you think!

    1. Thanks Joanne that really helps! I used to enjoy how much people enjoyed how lovely I made their presents look. So I do think it is a shame that isn’t the case anymore but there are such bigger things to worry about.

  2. I hear you. I did Pre-wrap for a fathers Day one year at a department store and after being shown what I was doing was terrible I did better. And yes, customers saw us wrapping so they wanted their purchases of aftershave wrapped. While they watched. These days being one handed I outsource my gift wrapping. Life is short……..

    1. I think I’m still in mourning for the life I used to have. But I need to pick myself up and embrace life. Things might be different but we can still achieve so much.

  3. Michelle,

    I just read that your accident and resulting TBI was 2 years ago. Mine was 13. Life isn’t what it used to be but I’ve gone through a grieving process. I didn’t “get over it”, as life will never be the same, but I’ve learned to live with it. You can too. It takes time and hard work.

    Prior to the stroke (at age 34), my life was wrapped up in my career. I was a social worker and thrived on helping other people. After the stroke, I was the one who needed help. For even the most basic of tasks like eating.

    I’ve regained a lot of things I couldn’t do after the stroke, but not all of it. Driving again took 3 years and I still don’t work. I don’t know if that’ll change. I won’t be able to return to my career as a social worker though.

    One of the key lessons I learned was that my identity is more than just what I do for work. I’d been so wrapped up in my career that when it was gone, I’d essentially lost who I was. I got many insights from a book called “Recovering From the Losses of Life” by H. Norman Wright. There’s a book and a workbook. I worked through the latter and found it immensely insightful. It made me realize some things I was experiencing but hadn’t identified. I delved into those issues and have come out the other side. I recommend you look into it.

    Good insight that you’re in mourning for the life you used to have. Keep moving ahead. Even small steps will move us closer to our goals than where we are now.

    I wish you all the best. Feel free to contact me if you’d like.

    Ellen

    1. Thanks Ellen. I will look up that book, thanks for recommending it.
      I too was all about my career but now I have also lost my parents – my mum died 3 weeks after my accident and I’m losing my dad to Alzheimer’s. So finding a way to accept how my life has changed is important.

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