Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mind Change Day 13: Don't Push Through

So here's the dilemma--

This month-long blog project linked to my concussion series is beating the tar out of me. Re-reading, re-thinking, trying to remember what I decided to do at each step when my notes are squeezed in every direction on frayed notebook paper--this is all a huge drain.

Shouldn't I focus on doing something self-filling?

One of the things I learned early and often in both the Back in Control book and on Alan Gordon's cool, online, video-enhanced TMS Recovery Program was this:

  • Don't push aside anxiety to power through your day
If you do it will fuel resentment (and anger will later fuel MBS symptoms), and you will have to disconnect from the discomfort of feeling alarmed or overwhelmed in order to power through and this will also rear its ugly head later via worsened symptoms. 

Confusing my worth with what I produce leads to paralysis and burnout.

And I need to get enough sleep.

But I also, according to Dr. Schubiner, need to stand up to my symptoms to reprogram my brain. That means giving them less power, and less consideration. 

Dr. Sarno's original mandate was to write essays on a list of issues that could be contributing to symptoms, such as:
  • childhood issues
  • personality traits
  • current life pressures
  • aging & mortality
  • situations where I experienced hopelessness/unexpressed anger
Then, once I've made some connections, to stop all treatments, all physical therapy, all medications, and return to normal levels of activity. This proves to my brain that it's not fragile. 

I have tried this "all in" strategy and it's got its drawbacks. The essays were grueling, and though I have convinced my balky back to straighten when it wanted to bend, walk when it wanted to sit and act merely irritated when it wanted to scream, whenever I've sat in the middle of a noisy place and tried to work (to desensitize my brain to sound and challenge my auditory processing system) I've gotten nothing done, plus a headache. Even when I sit there and don't try to work, just try to absorb and appreciate, it hasn't made the next time I try easier. Not harder either, just a waste of energy. 

So the full-out Sarno method didn't work for me, but I do believe in parts of it, like in setting a goal a chunk above where I'm at and then going after it steadfastly and with confidence. Most of the time I'll get there. When I don't, I'll learn something.

That's where I started with this project, and since it's so hard for me to finish and persist, no matter how scattered or tired or struggling my day, I feel good about getting these posts done. Each time I review the DOCC program the process makes a little more sense, has a little more meaning. The repetition every day is part of what seems to make each step a "building block" on the next day. 

And yet...this is really stressing me out. 

I wake up thinking "where am I?" I review my notes when I'd planned on working on something else. I'm behind on every other little thing that's important to me. Some days I'm sure I made less sense than the day before. 

And yet, here I am, and this feels like what I should be doing. Giving a real-life demo of mind-body strategies as applied to PCS.  Concentrated effort. Trying to figure out a way toward self-healing when there's no consensus way to measure concussion severity or recovery length (though this is changing, as detailed in this Atlantic Monthly column). This is still the Wild West time for brain injury treatment. 

For me, that's enough to push through the doubts and struggle. Even if I'm anxious, or lose sleep. 

Just for this month, I promise ;). 

Love, Lisa

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