focus, overstimulation, stress

The picture on the left doesn’t have anything to do with my speech but rather is a picture of my coffee grinder. This morning I ground some coffee beans and brewed up some fresh coffee in my super-duper coffee maker. I don’t drink coffee every day, only for a treat. When I drank it every day, I found I was addicted to caffeine and I didn’t like this. So now I brew it a couple of times a week but I make sure it is good coffee. No Folgers for me!

I’ve got a lot on my mind. It doesn’t take much now for me to get stressed out but I’ve learned how to deal with it. Prior to drinking my wonderful coffee, I went to the Y and swam laps. Normally I take an aerobics swim class but today I didn’t feel like following an instructor’s directions while making sure I didn’t run into other class members. I even worked on my speed something I rarely do. I felt wonderful afterwards.

This past Sunday I did a short stewardship moment at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church. I’m not one for speaking about stewardship but the theme I was asked to speak about was right up my alley. I am having some problems with double vision again. The doctor said it wasn’t bad enough for another surgery but he wanted to try something different. He blurred the vision in my left eye with the hope my brain would make up the difference allowing my right eye to do the work. Well, my double vision went away but everything was blurry. When I speak, I always enlarge the words but this time I needed to make them really big to make up for my blurred vision. I tolerate the double vision must better than the blurriness so I ordered new lenses yesterday.

On Sunday, I made a point to sit on the right side up front since I knew I was going to speak from the pulpit. Unfortunately a child sat in front of me. I like children but I don’t do well when a child fidgets and squirms. This is why I always sit in the front since I’m usually away from any distractions. I could feel myself getting overwhelmed and I looked to see if I could move somewhere less chaotic but there was no where to go.

I then remembered what I knew about over stimulation. One is stimulated in several ways: sounds, bright lights, touch and visual stimuli. The boy was getting up and down in his seat, playing with his cars on the pews and writing in his book. I decided to close my eyes to block out this visual stimulation. It worked! I could feel myself relaxing and when it was time to speak, I was fine. Of course, I worried what people would think when they saw me closing my eyes during the sermon but I figured it was a small price to pay.

I know I”m a good speaker. It stresses me out by I like to do it. When I was first injured, I repeated endless word lists trying to learn how to articulate again. I know plenty of folks who have a brain injury whose speech is not clear. This next Sunday, I’m going to preach my first-person Hagar sermon at Circle of Mercy. I’ve preached this one several times and it is a fun one to preach. I’m doing everything I know to deal with the stress (ie swimming hard laps this morning) and it will be fine. I probably don’t even need to enlarge the words much since I know it so well. I wish I could preach it without notes but I don’t trust my memory.

How do you deal with stress? If you have a brain injury, do you struggle with over stimulation? See above right for commenting instructions. I’m still not able to comment here (I think a friend is going to help me figure out why that is) so if you would like a response, email me directly puffer61@gmail.com I see this blog as a way for folks with a brain injury to be able to share their struggles but I’ve discovered commenting here is difficult. Would you comment if it was easier to do so? I can switch to another service but I don’t want to do this unless folks will use the commenting section. Email me your thoughts.

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