The Single Life

There is this expectation that people of a certain age need to be in a relationship to be happy. I personally have found that I am happier being single.

From the time I was seventeen to now (24), I haven’t been single for more than a few months. After my first break up, I probably was searching for the next guy I dated but not too actively. I dated that person for about 2.5 years and dumped him, then found interest in another guy, and we dated for about 1.5 years.

The Journey

Now, I have now been single for about 9 months, and I love it. It turns out I was never actually searching for these men, except for the first one. So I spent a lot of years being in a relationship.

Finally settling into being single, allows me to revisit parts of me that were forgotten while in a relationship. I now have been able to figure out who I am as an adult.

As I grow into myself and figure out what I care about, I can find someone that actually supports my likes and accepts my dislikes without me having to change anything for them.

My routine

The life of being single has freed me to, as cheesy as it is, to focus on me. A routine has been created by me, for myself. I work, go to the gym, read, and write.

There are times, I have forgotten where I have put my phone many times. I am not waiting for another text to respond to. There is no technology in my hand when I go outside and enjoy it.

That need to be continuously connected was probably an issue coming from me and shows me that I haven’t found the right guy yet. I feel like I lost myself, and now I am starting to become myself again.

The Joy

My family has even noticed the change and welcomes it. If you are in a relationship with the correct person that is great. I am not trying to rag on relationships. I have just not found that person yet, and I am not enjoying the time I have with myself.

No matter where you are in your love life, it is vital to understand what you need and give your brain a break. The person you are with should be able to respect that and know that you and the health of your mind comes first.

First Full-time Job

After spending time in school all our lives, it is a shock to have a change in schedule. It takes time to get used to the change in schedule but it happens and in the end we will get used to it.

Whether or not you have a brain injury, once we get to a certain age we will have to find a full-time job.


This is surprisingly different from a school schedule. This takes some time to get used to. The need to work a full eight hours is different between having class and then a break.


My job is explicitly tiring. It is a very physically and mentally exhausting. The mental component probably holds true for every job. The other difference between school and jobs are that jobs have the same routine Monday thru Friday, whereas school is different every day.

Give your new job time


I have found that finally after six months, I have gotten into a new routine and am able to do what I want to do. It turns out that a full-time job doesn’t leave much time for much else.


I have had to readjust what I want to do during the week and what I need to get done during the weekends. Throughout college, we get used to going to maybe three classes a day and having the rest of the time to do other things. Turns out, adult life is not like that.

Be Okay with Change


My job also forced me to change my schedule. I have to be at work at 7 in the morning. This requires that I go to sleep earlier than others. I get to be home before others are off work. After six months, I have finally changed my schedule.


I have also had to schedule time for me to do what I love individually. My sport is time-consuming, so I have found that the weekends are the only real time I have to partake in it.

After I have figured this out, I am happier. This allows me to get less fun stuff done after work, and during the week.

Understand the Difference in Holidays


A rude awakening was when I was still going to work, and my brother was home relaxing because he was on winter break. I have found that even though it was annoying, it is how life will be for a while.


All in all, I am happy to have my job even though it has required some getting used to. It is a rough realization, but we will get used to it.

Picking a New Challenge

It can be daunting to take on a new challenge after a brain injury. I find that if it is something you are passionate about, it will feel less like work.

Learning something new with a brain injury can be daunting. The first step is deciding what you want to learn. Pick something you are interested in. For me, this was figure skating.

Of course, you never really know what you are going to be passionate about until you try it. Sometimes you will have to change because you decide the effort isn’t worth it.

I tried different sports and hobbies. I ended up choosing figure skating as the thing to learn and put the effort in.

What about the activity you are learning is strenuous depends on where the brain injury is. This may dictate what you decide is more enjoyable to learn.

The activity or task that you decide to learn will probably take a lot of work. Unless you are born with the talent you need for the thing you choose to do, it will take some push, and a brain injury will make it need more of a drive and more time.

It sucks. I said I was going to quit skating many times, but I am still here. It took a ton of work to get to where I am in my skating. I am never going to be an Olympic skater.

I think that the main reason I have been able to stick with it is that I am passionate about it. I have found something I love to do.

This is essential. If you do not wake up and think about practicing or want to go to practice, you may want to try to find something else. That is okay.

You will know you have found the right thing when it doesn’t feel like work most days.

Coming to Terms

At some point after a brain injury you will learn what happened. You will have to learn a different way of living or learn to adapt. It can be tough at first but it gets better.

Since I got my injury at a young age, my parents needed to explain to me what happened. Of course, they had to wait until I was old enough to understand.


Before that moment, I remember thinking to myself that something ‘wasn’t right with me.’ I had this feeling that there was something that made me different. When kids are growing up, being different can be a big deal.


When my parents decided it was time for me to know, my mind went blank. I don’t really remember what I thought or how I reacted. It was big news.


This news was tough to wrap my head around. I am sure it is no matter how old you are when you get your injury. There are a lot of questions going through your mind.


Fortunately for me, I was able to take time to process it. I was young enough when I initially heard the story that I kept adding details as I grew. This made for a much slower time to process.


My questions came with that and not all at once. The question that appeared a lot was why. Why did this happen to me?


I am still trying to answer that question, but I have to believe that there is some reason it happened. There is a reason for everything.


Accepting what has happened to you will take time. It requires time to fully process and understand what your life is going to look like now.


This takes time, and everyone will have their own timeline for it to happen. It is a huge change. Allow yourself to grieve and be mad.


After that step, you need to be willing to learn what your new life is going to look like.

Routines

Routines allow a busy life to feel more manageable. Sometimes, the unexpected happens when you have to learn how to cope with routines being messed with.

Routines are a considerable part of my life. I have my morning routine and my after work routine. When something happens to break them, it causes anxiety.


When I have quirks like this, it is difficult to differentiate if this is due to my environment or my brain injury. Either way, it causes me anxiety.


Coping


The ability to cope with broken routines are crucial. Life can be unpredictable, and this means that routines are going to be broken.


Routines allow me to get done what I need to get done. I am relatively busy in life. I am trying to balance a full-time job and getting my masters degree.


My routine doesn’t have an exact timeline, but I know that when I get home, I shower and then eat dinner. After that, I do school work, and if I have, I will read a chapter of my pleasure book.


On the days where I go to the gym, it is the same routine just pushed back a bit. I try hard not to freak out when something happens, and I can’t do as much school work as I wanted, or I go to bed a little later than planned.


I try hard to remind myself that it is one night. It won’t kill me or make me fail. I focus on relaxing and figuring out what I need to do for sure that night and what can slide for a day.


The ability to relax when a routine is broken is a critical part because if you just let anxiety get the best of you, life will be very miserable.


I am not perfect. I am still working on not getting all worked up when something unexpected takes priority. Taking steps toward being okay with broken routines are essential to living an overall happy life.


I have found that one thing that works for me is telling the people around me that if I can have notice as soon as possible, I am then able to plan. This allows me to readjust what I want to get done.


Routines are great, but life is full of unexpected events. Allowing them to come and go with ease is the key to a less stressful life.

Time Management in School

School is the first real experience of having a deadline to get stuff done. It is important for people with brain injuries to learn the best way for them to manage their time.

We have all heard the words time management. We know what it means. It means being able to be productive promptly.

This is an important concept when there is a lot on the to-do list and deadlines to meet. The first time we learn about time management is during school.

I don’t remember specifically, but I believe that when I had to start learning how to manage my time was in high school. That is when my readings got more time-consuming, and I had to write more papers.

I believe the big thing I needed to learn with my brain injury was how long it would take me to complete a task. After that, knowing what I needed to get done was more comfortable to plan for.

This allowed me to have an idea each night how long what I needed to get done would take me. This translated into college life as well.

The issue in high school and college was friends. I loved them to death, but they were always able to finish in a faster time than me. This allowed them to go have fun.

There were times when I had to decline because I would not have been able to finish what I needed too quickly.

Sometimes its difficult for them to understand. My friends wanted me to go with them and not ‘be lame’ and do homework.

The thing they didn’t understand was that I wasn’t trying to be lame, I was just trying to do my job. My job was school, and if I felt that it wasn’t finished, I was going to finish it.

It was vital for me to do what I needed to do and stick with it. I had a lot more fun doing stuff with friends when I didn’t have to worry about work.

Some people will never understand the importance of what you need to do, especially if it isn’t a fun choice. It is necessary to stick to what you believe is the correct choice.

If they are good friends, they will understand.

Neurofatigue

The brain becomes exhausted quickly when it is injured. Sometimes it becomes difficult to live a normal life with this fatigue

Everyone tends to talk about how people with brain injuries suffer from neurofatigue. Neurofatigue means that the brain can tire quickly. I think I have not experienced a lot of neurofatigue until I joined the workforce.

Throughout my schooling years, I was not mentally tired. There were times when I thought I was mentally exhausted but turns out it was nothing compared to what I have experienced in the past couple of months.

It turns out that what I used to think was me being an introvert during school was probably mental fatigue. I used to need time for myself and rest without people around me. This occurred after especially rough days.

Now I believe that I was fatigued. My need for breaks from others was a result of my fatigue, I didn’t know how to read it.

Even through college, I was able to take enough breaks throughout the day, my mental capacity was able to be sustained.

Now, I am in the ‘adult’ workforce as I like to call it. I am working eight hours a day. I am doing what I enjoy, and I am helping others live their best lives.

It’s a rewarding job, but it is physical. On top of being mentally exhausting, I am physically exhausted. This means I need to try to find time to do what I want to do. I love to write, but sometimes my brain cannot handle it at the end of the day.

I am trying to use exercise as mental relaxation. It allows me to let my mind wander for a bit and then when I get home I am more willing to do activities that require more mental energy than just watching TV.

That Subject in School

We all have that subject in school that was what we dreaded going to. It is no different with a brain injury.

Everyone has that one subject in school where they struggle and are in turn not a fan of it. That is okay.

Math is my subject. I have always been a slow learner, but the math seems to take a while to click in my head.

That is okay, but the frustrating part is my foundation isn’t stable. The foundation isn’t reliable because I was busy getting pulled out of math to work on my reading.

It was a vicious cycle. It’s essential for me to put in the extra time and effort to be able to do everything, but if it impedes my ability to perform another subject, that is difficult.

Math has very different subsections. Some of it clicks with my brain, and others don’t. I had a lot of sections of math that just cannot mesh with the way my mind works but other I am.

I can grasp the concepts of algebra and geometry, but calculus is not my thing. It is okay.

The goal is just to keep working and never give up. I made it through high school and college with hard work and never gave up. That is what has allowed me to push through and get to the point where I am today.

Depression

It is important to take care of yourself if yo think you are depressed and don’t be afraid to talk to someone.

Anyone can suffer from depression. It is not unique to an injury, but a brain injury can cause depression. It is essential to understand that right off the bat.

People who don’t have a TBI or ABI can have depression too. I can’t say for sure that I have depression because of what happened to me, but I can argue that its possible.

The important thing is that don’t ignore it if you think you have depression. You need to be able to know the signs and understand what to do about them.

Take a minute, notice how you feel right now. Was it tough to get out of bed this morning or do you have a lack of interest in doing something you used to love to do.

If you think you are depressed, it is essential to talk to someone about it. Don’t just keep it in. It doesn’t have to be a doctor, only a trusted adult.

The most important thing is to find help and take care of yourself.

Not just an injury

We are people first and injuries second

I never thought about the concept of being a person versus being an injury. I began to think about it when I volunteered with people who had disabilities.

An injury does not define me as a person. I am a person who happens to have an injured brain. That is okay, as long as others understand that.

This is the exact reason why I am not a fan of sharing information about my past with others until they are able to know who I am.

This allows me to be a person with an injury instead of an injured person.
When you meet a person with a brain injury, it will make all the difference in how the person feels with you.

I know a few people who treat me like an injured human. Let me tell you, I want to get away from them as fast as I can, but when people just treat me like a person, I will hang around for a lot longer.

That is really all I want and what most of us want, to be treated normally.