focus, spaciness, spatial orientation

I’ve always had a reputation for getting lost. Oh I managed to get to where I was supposed to be for people depended on me. After all, when I was in my twenties I worked as a freelance violinist/violist in Kansas City. I played at wedding receptions, churches, restaurants, and other places all over the city and I was paid to play and be on time. I knew how to focus because I had to in order to perform even if I had driven all over the city to get there.

I’m reminded of this now especially since I have no spacial orientation. This means I have no sense of direction which is a direct result of my TBI. Being lost isn’t new to me but this “spaciness” is. I don’t know exactly how to describe it. This afternoon I went to the Blue Ridge Polymer Clay Guild of which I’m a member. We meet once a month to share ideas and tips on making various things out of polymer clay. The guild is full of very gifted folks who make incredible pieces. There are also folks like me who simply work in clay because it’s fun.

I keep a notebook with the directions to every place I go. Whenever I go somewhere, I pull out the directions and follow them. I’ve attended the guild for the past five or six years with the last five driving there from my current home. I haven’t attended since October because I had hand surgery. Even though I’m still not ready to use my hand, I wanted to attend today because it was a special day with many gifted artists attending and I wanted to be among them. Although I don’t consider myself a polymer clay artist – just someone who messes around with clay – I become energized when I’m around such creative energy.

I didn’t take my directions because I figured I knew where I was going. This was a mistake. I took the wrong highway going the wrong direction! I ended up driving several miles the wrong way before I could turn around. When I did turn around, I felt really spacey. I still wasn’t sure I was going the right way. I’m a safe driver when I’m “spacey” but if someone tries to talk to me then, I may seem drunk. I know folks who are brain injury survivors who’ve been walking down the road and have been stopped by the police because it appeared they were drunk. In fact they make necklaces with a label saying the wearer has a brain injury and may seem unfocused because of it.

When I managed to find the right road and realized I was heading the correct way, I took a few deep breaths to center myself. When I get “spacey” I focus on my breathing which helps me become more present in my body. I often take a few minutes before I do something to center myself. It seems I’m having to do this a lot lately but it really helps.

Do you have spatial orientation issues? This could be apparent in other ways besides driving. I always lose my way in a new building (I don’t go to large malls or even small ones for this reason) and it usually takes me many visits to a new place before I can find my way around. Feel free to comment here by clicking on “comment” or email me directly at

2 thoughts on “Spaciness

  1. What a strange and wonderful thing to read your blog today about spatial abilities. When Michael and I were “carpooling” today, I insisted on going the Brevard Road/ I-40 route. I can do Brevard Road fine, but something about that interstate area always gets me.

    I scored extremely low on spatial ability tests even when I was younger. And I never left home without a map when I was old enough to drive. My family and friends thought it was funny, but it adds to my feelings of security to have the map in the car.

    Some people have to really concentrate to get places. You and I are two of those people. I just have to get to know an area, especially a mountainous area. I drove in Savannah and the southern flat lands. You drove in Kansas… which is also flat land. I like your blog. Nancy K.


  2. Nancy, thanks for your comment. Prior to my TBI, I had no sense of direction. Like you, I got lost everywhere. Now it's even worse. I'm used to getting lost everywhere but what I'm not used to, is what happens now.

    I don't know the exact terminology but I think it's cognitive overload. I become completely disorientated and then become confused. Maps don't work because I'm now unable to read them. (I've spent hours in rehab years ago trying to learn how to read them. It didn't work.) I have to have directions written down in words. I think it's the spatial orientation thing. When I get lost, I become upset and have to take several deep breaths to focus. Taking my ear plugs out of my purse and putting them in for 10 minutes helps me block out all stimulation. Of course, I pull off the road when I put them in!

    Thanks again for your comments.


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