Over-stimulation



It’s happened again and I hate it. Prior to my TBI I could do things all the time. Now too much stimulation and I get tired. Even though I know this and am careful to avoid too much activity, sometimes I can’t help it. When I say “activity” I mean paying attention to everything. I didn’t realize how much one concentrates and pays attention to their environment every day until I became a TBI survivor. Simply driving or walking down the street means one is hit with all sorts of stimuli. We may not know it but lights, sound, speaking and everything else we do causes our brains to work.

For example, my day yesterday was too much for me and I didn’t even do that much! Shoot, I used to have meetings, appointments and writing assignment all day and night long. Yesterday I worked in Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church’s community garden in the morning. The garden is right in the front yard by a busy street with lots of traffic noise. After that, I delivered some vegetables to someone before driving home. All that in itself was a lot of stimulation.

I then cleaned up, ate lunch and visited someone in the afternoon. I really enjoy visiting folks for my church but when I concentrate on a conversation for a length of time, it wears me out. I then had to pick up my dog from day care. I know! I know! Day care for a dog sounds crazy but I have a dog that thrives on stimulation and he gets it there. But it meant picking him up before going downtown for a rally sponsored by the organization Move-On. I really wanted to go even though I knew it was a lot, so I went.

Even though downtown Asheville is not far, I didn’t want to find a parking place and then remember where I parked the car (spatial orientation) so I decided to take the bus. I used to take the bus in Atlanta when I couldn’t drive at all and I had tons of little pieces of paper with my bus numbers and times on them. I always had to write everything down including what subway station to take. (memory) It took a long time to get anywhere but it worked. The Asheville Transit isn’t as good but taking a bus from my home downtown is pretty easy.

I brought my umbrella to shield me from the sun and I prepared to wait at the stop. A woman joined me and we shared my umbrella. The experience reminded me what I like about the bus. I always meet interesting people and I’m more aware of the difficult lives many people must face. I had a choice to take the bus but some folks don’t have the choice at all. I had written my directions down on a little piece of paper but somehow in the commotion with buying my ticket and putting my umbrella down, I lost it. I remembered the first part of my directions from the bus station and began walking.

The problem was I thought I needed to go to Pritchard Park when I really needed to go to Pack Square Park. At least I got the “P” right! I asked directions to Pritchard Park but when I arrived there was no rally there. People gave me directions to go to City Square Park so I headed there. On the way, I found the rally at Pack Square. The picture posted above is one from that rally. Michael met me there at the rally and we drove home together. I was beat for it was a long rally but I’m glad I went. It felt good to be around folks who are as angry as I am about the budget cuts and high unemployment.

I usually take a high intensity water aerobics class on Thursday mornings but I didn’t want to have to concentrate on a teacher’s directions or worry about colliding into someone. Instead I swam laps. I didn’t have to think and I could swim as hard as I liked. It’s just what I needed. When I returned home, I realized I had left my swimsuit at the Y. This meant going back for it instead of resting my brain which I really needed to do. When I finally returned home, I put in my ear plugs and rested my brain for a half hour.

I had some other things I wanted to do this afternoon but when I push it this hard, I usually need to take it easy for a while. So I wrote in my journal, meditated and am planning to do things that won’t stress me out. It is a challenge to try to be involved in one’s community when one has a TBI but I am trying to find ways to do this.

If you are a TBI survivor do you get over-stimulated easily? How do you work with it? Some folks simply cannot do as much as I do and I must admit that sometimes I push it too hard. Every TBI is different and we all have to do what works for us. See top right for commenting instructions or contact me directly at puffer61@gmail.com. I still can’t respond to your comment here but I read all of them.

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