Occasionally, my mind goes back to when my brain allowed me to multi-task, when I was completely independent and very, very rarely asked for assistance with anything. Living life after a brain injury can be tough, draining, depressing, and filled with anxiety. Especially, when you were once able to function highly while completing tasks on your own, in the time frame in which you desired, while oftentimes taking on the tasks and needs of others as well.
My NeuroPsycologist once told me that prior to my brain injury, I functioned at a very high level. High functioning in the sense that my brain was once able to house lots of information, compartmentalize, and able to mult-task on a level that to some, would appear almost superhuman.
Prior to the injury, I spoke, and/or comprehended four languages, including English, and owned a small publishing company. Additionally, I also sang in various capacities, for weddings, churches, and sporting events. If that was not enough, I held a full-time position at a university, while raising an active, athletic, and musically inclined, teenage boy; which meant, a large portion of our time was spent either inside of a car driving to piano or saxophone lessons, on a football or baseball field, or on a basketball court.
While at practices, I would often watch practice with one eye and both ears, while my other eye was on my laptop or a book, either completing work or getting ahead on work. Once home in the evenings, if we had not picked up dinner, then dinner needed to be prepared or served, and then all other household tasks completed, reading with my son, reviewing and/or assisting with homework, then preparing him for bed. After my son would be nestled into bed, my next round of work would begin with my publishing company, and everything in between that needed to be completed. If that was not enough… at some point within those years, I was working towards earning a dual graduate degree in English Literature. Exhausted yet? For most, that would have been extremely exhausting, to say the least. At times, it was exhausting, but somehow, I managed and managed well without complaint. With the exception of the graduate degree. The brain injury brought that to an immediate hault or an abrupt end.
Organization was indeed a strength for me and something I thrived on. Those who had close contact with me, often remarked about my organizational skills. Fast forward to today, organization is the task I likely struggle with most. It becomes quite frustrating, especially when you are accustomed to being a multi-tasker. Through the lenses of my exceptional neurological team, I have learned that the brain was not designed for such things as performing multiple tasks at once; we, as humans have forced our brains to handle such tasks.
Following the brain injury, creative ideas would come to mind, I would be excited to begin, then boom, I would become extremely frustrated and all out of sorts because I could not seem to figure out what should come next, or how to execute those ideas. Quite often, I would begin numerous tasks and not complete them. Not completing what I started was frustrating enough, and very uncharacteristic of my prior self. At least, not completing in the manner and time in which I thought they should be completed. These are things I never had issues with.
This is where Mindfulness helps, even for those who have not suffered a brain injury or traumatic stress of some sort. Mindfulness teaches us to focus on one task or thing at a time, how to breathe, while also teaching self-compassion. If we focus on only one task, we are then able to give attention to that task and complete it well, without feeling the need to rush to complete the next task on our list. You are better able to pace yourself and feel good about the outcome.
“Take one day at a time, one task at a time.”-JustTaamico
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