I am stressed. I need to write about it just to get it out.
I know I’m intelligent, and people expect me to be able to handle 18 hours of course work. Also, because I’m intelligent, people do not understand that I have brain damage!
Despite my having explained myself to my friends a million times, they still don’t seem to understand that cognitive functioning involves a lot more than intelligence. I think my friends think I’m making excuses for not having a “real job”, or I’m being a whiner, or I’m lazy, but my ability to handle the stress associated with multi-tasking does not work as well as other people’s, and this is beyond my control! And it sucks that people can’t empathize!
Like I said, my intelligence is not damaged–or at least, it’s not that damaged–but the part of my brain that is designed to handle the stress of multi-tasking got scratched against my skull when my Blazer flipped over in 2003. Other parts of it got scratched too, but I would definitely say that my ability to handle stress in multi-tasking is the most serious challenge I face when I compare myself now to the way I was before the accident.
Before 2003, I juggled a million things: honors classes, the speech team, piano lessons, saxophone, choir, drama (wow, how were my parents surprised when I came out of the closet?!), writing for the school newspaper, and a bunch of other less salient but nonetheless time-consuming activities, and it was easy and I still got good grades! Now, juggling significantly fewer responsibilities causes significantly more stress.
Having 18 hours of course work creates a lot of tasks and a lot of stress for anybody. A lot of people who I know can handle it, and even work outside jobs. They expect me to be able to be like them. I can’t. Today I feel like I’m on the verge of shutting down as I’ve done a few times in the past.
When I say “shutting down,” I mean if I can’t manage the stress of my tasks, I wind up refusing to get out of bed in the mornings, leave the house, shower, the whole nine yards for weeks or maybe even months, and I lose control of the ability to care about the consequences of those decisions.
The first time this happened was in 2003, right after the accident. I went to a couple shrinks whose beloved DSM betrayed them and me, and they ended up treating me for something I didn’t have. The following spring, 2004, it happened again. I was able to hide it from my parents for awhile, but eventually they figured it out and I was sent to a bunch more shrinks. The next year, 2005, it happened again. I quit showing up to class and failed them all. I quit showing up to work and got fired. I was shut down though, and I didn’t care until reality kicked back in several months later.
Last spring, compounded by depression over a loss in my life, it almost happened again, but I prevented it by being aware of the danger and reducing my involvement in speech. Some people started treating me differently, presumably because of my lack of involvement, but I think it was the best decision I could have made because I managed to stay at least partially functioning and get through the semester without any severe consequences, and I’m actually proud of myself, despite the way spring 2009 may have ended up looking on paper.
The past few days, I have been feeling the urge to stop caring. I’ve been resisting it successfully, but–and I know this sounds strange–actively resisting the urge to shut down creates even more stress. I need a break to feel relaxed, but there isn’t time for it.
I’m hoping that taking a few minutes to bitch about it on my blog will help reduce the stress just by getting it out. Also, having the empathy of my friends would help, but I can tell that some of them don’t even understand why I’m that stressed in the first place, and I really don’t feel like explaining my brain damage to people over and over again. If they don’t get it by now, they obviously don’t care to, or can’t, and I don’t need them to. It’d be nice if they did, though.