As I progressed though school, I realised that some teachers gave you a bit more breathing space than others about producing your homework on time. So I liked to think I was learning to prioritise which pieces I needed to deal with when I hadn’t even started some by the completion date. But really I was just avoiding certain ones. It might be because it was more challenging, or just that frankly it was boring to me. Occasionally I found myself in hot water, but not very often. I might be more consistent for a while, but it wouldn’t last and I’d slip back into my old ways. I think I got away with it because otherwise I was a good student. Good attendance, not lippy and good grades. And maybe I did learn how to prioritise, but now I must stop avoiding things. I must take responsibility for my actions, or I’ll continue to add to my worries.
Avoiding thinking about it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
The last 2.5 years since the car accident that caused my brain injury have passed me by in a blur. And yet many major things have happened during that time. I became the Power of Attorney for my Dad and am responsible for all his finances. I can tell you that still feels weird, but I think I did quite well at most things for him. Even though I adapted well to running his day to day finances, there was still lots to learn. I applied to the Government for the support he was entitled to, and would make sure he was paying the right income taxes.
But with all the will in the world, it turned out I had missed out something which was worth a lot of money. In the UK when a person is diagnosed with Dementia they become exempt from paying their council tax. I only read this by chance somewhere. I can’t even remember where. But whilst the fact lodged itself in my brain, I took no further action, even though I knew that Dad had continued to pay his council tax ever since his diagnosis over a year ago. Why? Because I didn’t want to have to explain to someone that I was useless and hadn’t informed the council earlier.
If you keep avoiding it, the stress just keeps building.
I compounded this by keeping it to myself, I didn’t even ask someone to help. It was my problem, no one elses. So it made itself at home, and started festering inside me. My brain injury means I have limited attention and concentration, making it even easier to ignore something. But then when it would pop into my mind it would be bigger and uglier than the last time we met. It felt like having the debt collector knocking at your door and telling you, that with the interest added, the debt had just doubled.
In my mind I would imagine how badly the conversation with the council would go, and how impossibly complicated it would be. I kept trying to tell myself that even if I tried I would get it wrong and it would be denied – resulting in a lot of frustration and a waste of effort.
It’s not always as difficult as you think.
But finally I grew a back bone, and decided to put and end to this stupid situation. It was totally of my own making so now I was calling time on it. I called the council! And I wasn’t even sat on hold for the next decade. Instead a pleasant lady quickly looked up Dad’s file and explained what I needed to do next. She would send me a form for me to sign authorising Dads doctor to confirm his diagnosis with the council. In total, this took no more than 10 minutes. And whilst the form is still on it’s way to me, I’m no longer terrified of what it needs me to answer.
Don’t get me wrong, having a brain injury means this is so much harder. But whilst many things in my life are being suffocated by the pause button, some things go on. Life is full of choices, and if I have chosen to deal with this straight away, I could have saved myself a lot of stress as well as dads money.
You can read more about how despite my brain injury, when I put my mind to it, I can do things in Achieving new things doesn’t end after brain injury.
Do you find yourself avoiding things instead of dealing with them? Have you found you do this more or less often since your brain injury?