Mental Fatigue

I recently read an article http://www.brainline.org/content/print.php about fatigue and TBI.  It described the three different kinds of fatigue common after a brain injury.  The first is physical fatigue which comes from muscle weakness from having to work harder to do things.  The second is psychological fatigue which comes with depression, anxiety and other psychological issues.

While both of these are challenging for me, the third is most challenging.  It is mental fatigue which I have mentioned before.  When I concentrate on something, I get tired.  Research is going on about this sort of fatigue and what sort of drugs may be helpful. Back in the 90’s I tried various medications but they didn’t work for me.  To be honest, I’m not excited about taking any more medications.

When I’m not involved in things, it isn’t a problem.  However, I tried that route and got bored.  I can control it somewhat by organizing my schedule.  I don’t plan to do two things that cause a lot of mental energy back to back without allowing time to “rest my brain.”  Now that I’m involved in more things, problems come up and I must deal with them immediately which in turn cause mental fatigue.

Rohr quote

In the Great Themes of Scripture, Richard Rohr made a statement that helps me here. “God gives us meaning, not answers.”   There is no answer and it is a waste of time for me to look for one. I do have to admit I often waste time in this fashion!   On my better days, I try to find meaning.

Do you agree with Rohr’s comment?  If you disagree, why? If you agree, what sort of meaning do you find in your struggles? 

Hard on Myself


A friend of mine posted the above on Facebook today. They are words I need to hear. People are always telling me I’m too hard on myself and I know this is true. I think some of it comes from when I was a professional musician. I had to be hard on myself or I wouldn’t get jobs which meant I woudn’t get jobs. I sort of liked to eat so I was pretty hard on myself.

Since my TBI in 1996, I felt I had to push myself or I wouldn’t be able to do everything I can do now. Living with this is hard and I’ve always wanted to use what I have left, to serve God. However all my pushing means there is a war within myself. I’m clear God doesn’t want this for me or for anyone. I believe God understands when I scream and shake my fists at Her. There are certainly enough examples of this in the Psalms!

So I’m going to remember that it is okay for me not to be perfect. Just last week my mind blanked and I thought I had a meeting at 7 PM. When 6:30 rolled around, I remembered the meeting was at 6. I beat myself up inside for my mistake. The thing is, everyone makes mistakes. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect – just to love others and love the life God gave us.

So I took it easy today and enjoyed the life I have been given. I will do the same tomorrow.

Vocabulary Lessons

Feb 17
Mark Ramsey and Kristy Farber are doing a sermon series on the Psalms this Lent. Perhaps it’s where I am in my life now but I can really relate to the sermons. On Feb. 17, Mark preached about Psalm 137. I’ve always hated this Psalm especially verse 9 which reads “Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!”

In the sermon, Mark suggested that “we need help with our faith language. And into this pressing need, the Bible offers us …the Psalms.” I think at times, we don’t know anything about a faith language – I know I don’t. For example, lately I’ve been really angry. I’m sick of dealing with this TBI and all of its effects. I’m tired of becoming overstimulated during a conversation and having to leave the room to “rest-my-brain.” I’m sick of having to plan for everything since I don’t “think well on my feet.”

I don’t know what took me so long to discover that one way I can deal with my fury, is to swim sprints. When I swim laps as fast as I can, pounding the water as I go, I think about everything I’m mad about. It’s like having a temper tantrum in the pool. I love it because I always feel so much better afterwards. Now I have to figure out how to put a pool in our basement so I can swim sprints anytime! This is truly my faith language.

The Psalmist wrote about throwing “little ones” against a rock which was a temper tantrum of sorts as well. How do we express our anger? I know folks who express it in unhealthy ways that hurt themselves and others. An activist I know expresses it by demonstrating against the injustices in our world. Musicians and other artists use their art for this purpose. I used to fiercely play my violin which helped immensely. Now I’ve discovered I can also do this as I sing.

As Mark suggests, we can hear God’s voice of hope and promise only if we express ourselves fully. This is what I’m trying to do but it is hard. Too often, we’re required – or we think we are required- to “pretend” as we live in our world. We hide our true feelings because we’re afraid of what folks might think.

I love the way this Psalm begins: “By the rivers of Babylon- there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.” It is important for us to weep sometimes. Only then will we be free.

Examining my Garden

Here is a part of the reflection from the Hobo Honeymoon by Ed Hays for this past Sunday. Good words for me to remember.

“Jesus’ parable today answers the question, ‘What is the world’s oldest profession that is today’s most popular hobby?’ As you may have guessed, the correct answer is being a gardener! The profession of gardening goes all the way back to the beginning, when God the Gardener created the first garden in Eden. God, who loves cooperative ministry, shared that holy work by making Adam and Eve partners in gardening.”

“Heaven’s garden name is paradise, which comes from the Persian word for the enclosed royal gardens of their kings. Gardens and religions were early partners; Egyptian temples were surrounded by gardens, and the Chinese had their sacred grove-gardens. Even the mini-gardens of potted plants in ancients Greece became small shrines in honor of Adonis, the god of growing plants. In the northern hemisphere, since the Lenten season and the spring season accompany one another, the thoughts of many turn to their gardens and yards during Lent.”

“On other levels, gardening is one of the primary works of Lent; it’s at the heart of your hobo journey of return to the Garden of Eden. As we saw early in the book, the hobo may have originated with the hoe-boys, the sons of farmers who left the farm and were on the road in search of work. These hoe-boys were not bums or tramps and would work hard at any odd job, including digging up a spring garden plot.”

“Lenten hoe-girls and hoe-boys, how does your soul garden grow” In the garden of your souls, are the trees rich with fruit or are they barren? The tradition of Lenten ‘gardening” is centuries long, rich in its heritage as a springtime retreat. While recent reforms of the season have been very positive, even a causal look at the daily involvement many of us have given to Lent tells a pitiable story……Today’s garden of lent is overgrown with the weeds of overwork at our jobs, full social calendars and other secular activities, busy school events, demanding sport practices and games to attend, or even the endless round of evening TV.” (He wrote this before the internet)

“Examine your soul garden today for any weeds that need to be hoed out so that good plants can grow and bear a rich harvest. This Sunday, take time to lovingly examine your inner life, especially your prayer trees and alm trees. Make sure they aren’t barren and sickly from neglect.”

Having a TBI is a real challenge at times and I’m examining my soul garden today. Unlike many other TBI survivors it is invisible so I’m trying to figure out when to talk about it and when not. It’s a struggle because I see some of my “call” as educating folks about TBI. I’ve discovered that often folks underestimate my abilities when they know I have a disability. This is true for many of us who have a disability. I will spend a great deal of time in meditation and prayer this Lent as I examine my soul garden.

Do you have any special things you are doing this Lent? I would love to hear about them if you do.