Archives for posts with tag: loss of executive function

Yeah…this is not about ‘management’ as in ‘leadership’, and it’s not about improving one’s resume for a better paying job with keys to the executive washroom. Nope. It’s another sort of ‘executive’ ‘management’ altogether. The ‘executive functions‘ of the brain manage cognitive processes, such as (and likely not limited to) working memory, reasoning, task flexibility, problem solving, planning, impulse control, and in specific areas like the ‘orbitofrontal cortex’, things like evaluating subjective emotional experiences (and so much more). All very interesting, no doubt, but for me it’s a little more personal, and relevant…my TBI is a frontal lobe injury. The lingering impairments are mostly executive function sorts of things, and as with so many other people, and other TBIs, very interestingly individual – the brain is fancy, and the outcome of any given injury is equally individual. A whole new world of potential to heal and move on opened up when I started learning more about how these injuries work (don’t work?), and why, and how it changes my experience… and in so many moments, the experience of those who make their lives (or work) with me.

It is what it is, at least the piece where I look in the mirror every morning and I am… me. It’s not all bad. It’s better, actually, than it once was. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown. I’ve become more skillful at caring for this broken vessel, and at sorting out some of the chaos and damage that lingers.  It is, sometimes, a shit experience and I struggle. Very human.

How about this one for a great practical joke on one human primate by the universe… one of my ‘favorites’… my PTSD causes serious sleep disturbances, nightmares, sometimes insomnia, and diminishes the hours of restful deep sleep I can get; I’m easily awakened by the littlest noises, or novelty, in my nighttime surroundings… (waaaait for it…) and my executive function impairments are much more pronounced – to the point of being quite obvious – if I don’t get good rest, reliably, pretty nearly every night. So… yeah. A night or two of poor sleep, for whatever reason, and I start… declining. My temper is often the first obvious sign that ‘things are not right’ – I become irritable, and easily angered, and feel less positive, generally, when my sleep is of poor quality. Next up, I start struggling with emotional balance, and lose ’emotional regulation’ characteristics in my day-to-day experience most adults don’t even realize they have going on in the background; I feel them most particularly when they slip away unexpectedly.  The more tired I become, the more fatigued over time, the more prone to real tantrums, crying jags, and irrational mood swings I become – and (waaaait for it…) less able to sleep; my brain won’t shut down. When I do find sleep, I sometimes dream that I’m awake in such detail I wake exhausted to the point of tears. Yep. Pretty god damned funny. (Not)

Most of the time, these days, I still manage decently well overall…enough to pass as a grown up most of the time. There’s no real way to share what the subjective experience is like (you sort of have to be there). Every one of the many calming practices I’ve learned matters a great deal. Every choice counts. Every effort is meaningful. Every success – however fleeting, however limited the benefit, however difficult it is to recognize in the moment – every success builds the foundation for successes to come. My hope is that over time, that foundation grows substantial enough to bear the burden of the entirety of the chaos and damage…strong enough to hoist me above the pain, long enough to really see the view from a radically different perspective somehow ‘above it’… I would very much like to keep working at life and love to find that I have transcended what has hurt me most and become that woman – or more – that I might have been without the chaos and damage.

Please don’t tell me that’s wishful thinking. Tonight I couldn’t bear to lose the crutch of some shred of positivity to lean on. I’m tired. I know I am. My brain is buzzing like it’s noon on a sunny summer day; I’m not sleepy…but if I can practice good practices (meditation, and yoga are both very calming), and avoid becoming negative, or caught up in some random moment of weirdness, or a sneak attack by my own brain, I might sleep – or at least rest. Rest is okay. Rest is enough.

Enough is okay with me. Hell, I’m not even having to ‘do it alone’, really; my traveling partner checks in now and again. I welcome the closeness, the touches, the tenderness. The reassurance that love is, helps me find my way in the darkest darkness.

Wrapping this one up on a positive note; perspective matters, too.

Wrapping this one up on a positive note; perspective matters, too.

This week has been peculiarly difficult in spots, amazing in others; the challenges seem to outweigh the benefits just at the moment, but that may be a byproduct of whatever new Hormone Hell I am enduring, or simple lack of sleep. My sleep has been disturbed for a couple of days now, and last night I was wakeful until after 3:00 am, the last time I checked the clock, and I needed every moment; the alarm at 5:00 am sounded actually annoyed with me for not being able to wake to shut it off sooner than a dozen or so beeps into the morning. I’m tired. I’m emotional. I’m saying good-bye to my traveling partner, and feeling my own feelings, having my own experience, facing my own challenges; this time around it’s too much, I guess. I am alone, for the moment, weeping quietly as I write.

What’s with the emotional intensity? Why is my emotional experience so uncomfortable for others? Why is theirs so uncomfortable for me? My brain and my heart and the things that I feel don’t ‘feel age’…but my body is sure taking a beating with the whole ‘aging process’ and I find myself resenting the hell out of it, wondering where it leads, struggling to find balance and meet needs. Struggling to feel valued, desirable, meaningful. This morning is an emotionally difficult one. I’m fucking exhausted, and the last shreds of functional intelligence know it, but I’m so tired I also have obviously impaired executive function, and my emotional volatility is through the roof. Hell, I don’t want to be around me right now, why would my good-hearted loves want to endure it if they can walk on?


Looking up as a positive metaphor, although beauty needs no justification.

I’m doing my best. Pausing for cleansing breaths, meditating, doing my best to be compassionate with myself…but fuck, all this hurts so much right at the moment.  This week has been too much for me…and not the too much of terrible experiences or trauma, most of the week has been filled with amazing highs, achievements, connected conversation, delightful moments… The number of minutes in any given day is the same. This week has been crammed with experiences and emotions, from my amazing solo weekend – that I’ve yet to have a few minutes to really process – to the joy of the travelers coming home, changed by their own experiences. There has barely been time to share any of that, because it is also one of the busiest professional weeks I’ve ever had, filled with long hours, new software, and new knowledge.  I’d be in better shape this morning if I’d been able to sleep last night, I’m sure.


Practices require practicing

So now what? My coffee has gone cold. My heart feels heavy. Tears just keep streaming down my cheeks… I have to go to work soon. I am alone when I want so much to be in the arms of my traveling partner. My feeling of connection and intimacy and warmth feels sheared off, as if too much happiness just won’t do, and must be cut away before I get too comfortable with it. My experience of self, itself, feels painful. I just don’t know why.  I have trouble accepting that ‘too tired’ could be reason enough, and that ‘too tired’ plus ‘hormones’ is more than reason enough, and that ‘enough’ is a good place to find balance, and stillness, and accept that this what it is, and just be. I want to feel loved, but even in my own heart I feel myself recoil from me, even as I see that desire to recoil from me reflected in my partner’s eyes. This shit sucks.


There are choices, changing those changes everything…how to choose the better choice is a question.

Our mortal lives are so finite, so brief…it is pure raw unfairness that even one moment would ever feel like this; love exists, I still know that. I wish I didn’t feel so completely cut off from feeling that experience. Like it or not, eventually we all face the evening light.


Feeling very mortal indeed, this morning.

Today is just one day. Today will teach me something about being the woman I most want to be. Today will be one of many in the rear view mirror all too soon, and it’s part of a bigger picture of precious minutes that cannot be repeated. Today is most especially a good day to change the world.