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Brain Injury and mental health, my problems...

Updated on May 18, 2016

My Latest Work Situation

Read my blog (moving on up) to get some background

After being offered a part time teaching job of 8hrs per week, I thought this was the gentle start back into a timetabled working schedule that I needed. However after just 2 days work I was asked if I could up my hours to double. At first I said no, I need to try this first then see. 'I don't want to compromise my health' The boss then said try 16 hours and if it compromises your health then we can change things. I hesitated then he said I could do 14 hours and that I didn't have anything to lose.

So I took on 14 hours and things seemed okay, for the first few weeks. By the third week, I was struggling. On my days off I wasn't worth anything. I could think, my vision was blurry, I would drop things, my mood noticeably lower. At the end of this week I spoke to the boss, I then said I could do another week of 14 hours then drop my hours. He said that we would discuss my hours the following week.

I reached the Thursday(day before a day off) of the 4th week and I was spent. I couldn't function, there was no way I was taking a class, never mind several. So I called in sick. Then the next day I met the boss, where he told me he didn't think they could accommodate a teacher to work only 8 hours per week. Despite only ever being offered 8 hours to begin with because that is what they needed.

Brain Injury is complex

Brain Injury is a very complex, for each person it is different. Given the brain is so complex.

What then comes with this is a difficulty in explaining to people what are your problems. Especially when I leave the house I am having a 'good day' My wife being the only one who sees my bad days at the moment.

When people see me they don't think I have any problems. When I teach, usually I am a good teacher. None of my students have ever thought anything different.

So when I was offered 8 hours I felt good about it. I was going to the gym, I was in a good place. I had a some doubts about my ability to do 3 straight hours of work. However after my first 3 hour shift I felt good, then slept well. Following that having quickly moved up to 14 hours I felt good, I managed it! But shortly my energy started depleting, I had to cut back on my gym routine so I could save my energy for work.

For me my biggest problems are ability to concentrate at this level for continuous days/weeks, anxiety and PTSD(post traumatic stress disorder)

So here I am, not managing to do 14 hours spread over 5 days each week, anxiously over thinking everything that has happened since I started i.e. how the boss has put his revenue stream's importance above my health(which I had tried to explain to him) also occasionally resulting in a violent outburst where I end up breaking things at home, something that is a result of PTSD

The Fall

After starting to write this after my 4th week at work I just crashed.The overall result was that I had to leave the job. Now as I write this today, a month later, I am still getting myself back on track.

The biggest effect (at first) for me was the mental fatigue.(read about my experience with mental fatigue here) I struggled to do even basic tasks which at the time would cause me to have accidents like falling over, dropping things and even accidentally breaking things.

Following this what came next was the feelings involved with these things happening such as feeling stupid, disappointed in myself and the likes. This is then like a downward spiral.

Next is feeling worthless and depressed that comes with the thoughts of 'why can't I do these simple things that I took for granted?' ' what is the point?' Which ends up with thoughts of self harm, however this is something that I have worked through and have good coping strategies for (now)

The result in dealing with my inner torment comes out in violent outbursts, not towards people, but towards things. Usually in my house.

With time this passes however, but it is certainly not a fun place to be.


How do I deal with Mental Health problems?

The first go to for me is distraction, the more senses involved the better.

Video games are a good distraction for me, often played with headphones on to help me 'escape' Spending time playing with my dogs, it is amazing how they can instantly lift your mood.
Spending time learning songs and funny phrases in Portuguese.

- The dogs are a good start for me then after that, video games are good as when I am mentally exhausted as I can adjust the difficulty accordingly. As I begin to get my mental energy back I can start to use more more cognitively engaging distractions.

The gym is also great, however I did not manage this at my lowest point during this.This comes after I am feeling a bit better physically, along with doing things like shopping or cooking or cleaning (usually all done while listening to the radio)

My other coping strategy is Meditation, I have been doing Meditation for years. At first meditation is somewhat difficult. but with time and patience it starts to make big changes. To put it simply meditation is simply just the act of clearing your head of thoughts. For me it works best with calming music (listened to with headphones) and If needs be to focus on my slow breathing.

-With meditation, its not so much about what it gives you but more what it takes away. It relieves anxiety, impatience, stress, depression. With time practicing meditation this big changes I have noticed.

-Personally I try to meditate for 30 minutes every day, though I do sometimes miss days. The more I miss the more agitated I become and the harder it becomes to perform meditation.

- The brain is very powerful but to do so efficiently it needs its rest, meditation is a good way to consciously give your brain this rest. I first started with 10 minutes per day as I felt 30 was too long but with time I built up to 30, It is amazing how spending longer doing this makes helps you efficiently carry out every day and complicated tasks alike.


Understanding Brain Injury and Mental Health

Do you feel you understand how it is to live with a brain Injury or Mental Health problems?

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So what is next for me now?

For me, I'm still not in a great place. What has happened with work recently has put me in a bad state of mind. I'm trying my best to get out of this state of mind, however this doesn't happen overnight.

So right now I am re-establishing my gym routine, which is important. When I feel particularly low I use distraction to keep myself occupied.

I also find it important to not look at this as a negative experience that I have been through. For this I need to look at what I have learned. This would be:
-I need to be strong willed about the fact that it is important to pace myself (this is certainly not the first time something like this has happened)
-More than 2 hours work without a short break is still too much
-Despite this 'negative' outcome, I now know that I can teach a class.
-Teaching is something for the not too distant future, possibly online. Where I will have more control over my working hours.

Understanding is important

I feel that for me, many people take me at face value. Which is many situations is fine, however in situations where understanding is needed I need people to take what I say seriously. Even though I look fine and come across 'normal' every day is a bit tougher than it used to be. Some days more so than others.

Now, for me, everything I do takes a little more energy than it used to.(read about my experiences with fatigue here) This is not as simple as it sounds as I need to think more about everything that I do and the possible consequences. e.g. I want to take my wife away for two nights one weekend. Even just travelling does tire me out and I may have an early appointment on the Tuesday following getting home on the Sunday night. However I may need to consider the fact that I might not be able to make the appointment if I go away due to the 'hangover' caused by days of spending lots of energy.

I have looked into Mental Health problems in another blog. (Read about my experiences and insights to mental health here)
I hope you have enjoyed reading and I hope you have gained some more insight in doing so!


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    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Traumatic brain injury, though a physical issue, has many mental health implications and you have outlined them well here. Probably one of the most difficult aspects of mental health problems is that we "look normal" but in reality, we cannot do the things that many people expect of us. You are wise to help others understand what you are going through.

    • profile image

      Helen 2 years ago

      Aye,trying to "live a life of quality"

      is very difficult, often made more difficult by others who have a lack of understanding & knowledge.

      BUT..... they'll judge me/us as being lazy, selfish etc.

      This just adds to the insecurities, and fears I (we?) deal with daily,

      So many basic things I used to take 4 granted I now appreciate,

      Anyway I could go on but I won't.