Panic- sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior. Anxiety-a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks. Frustration-the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.
I used to go to the doctor for my ADHD. He had a survey I had to take each time went and there was a question on it I never really understood. I figured that if I didn’t know exactly what it was talking about I must not be doing it, so I would answer no each time. The question was, “Do you find yourself avoiding activities that require sustained attention?” At the time, I wasn’t avoiding anything. However, now, I understand the question because now, I do avoid things which require me to sustain my attention. Let me explain.
My internal list of things I have to do is long. Having a business requires so many small things. They are monumental in getting to where I want to be, but I am finding that when I think of all that needs to be done, fear comes up. I think there are several reasons for that. It is not just a cut and dry separation of fear, apart from the rest of my life. Everything overlaps with everything else, but I have an idea of how this fear is manifesting itself more openly.
One time, I went to work on some music for a performance coming up. I understood what I needed to practice. I had the material to do it. I had the desire to do it, but when I started, I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t enjoying it and I gave up and stopped. I have been a pianist for most of my life, but I couldn’t find the capacity to play. It was a dramatic conflict in my head. It was like I lost my ability for a moment. This hasn’t happened to me before in this way, and because of this I am afraid of trying again. What if I continue to have trouble when I challenge myself in music or just mentally have difficulty processing? What if my brain will not work to do what I need it to do? Since then, I find I am avoiding things which require my mental attention.
When this happens, the fear rises up every time I need to start something new. This is a problem in my business, because a business requires sustained attention. But it would be a problem even if I was still working for someone else because every day there are new things that come up in life in different areas. But I have a barrier of fear, internally, whenever there is something new that requires my brain to behave in a certain way. Because this is an internal struggle for me, no one sees the fear. On the outside I look normal, like a regular person, but in my mind, I cannot function sometimes. It is like a huge mountain I am trying to climb, and some days I just can’t do it.
When this panic happens, it causes me to struggle to accomplish anything. I have become more sensitive to distractions which also plays into avoiding things that require my attention. I feel hungry to learn new things and be constantly growing and developing, but when a new idea comes along, I find myself nervous about it. What if I discover more limitations of myself when I delve into this new thing? What if the new topic can’t flow into other topics I am using in my business? Say, for example, I find a new technique to help tune a piano, but as I learn the new technique either, I don’t have what it takes to do it, or I cannot integrate the new technique into my old way of doing things. What if the new thing doesn’t fit? There is so much in my head that I am excited about working on that relates to the goals I want to achieve, but I cannot manage the desire and interest because of the fear of not getting it right. It overwhelms me because I am thinking about too many things at once. Fear takes over. I give in to it and I avoid doing anything. It is like I am paralyzed by the panic which rises up in my throat whenever something new comes along. How long will I be able to do this new thing, if I can even get it started at all? How long before by ability to sustain it long term will fade away into nothing?
I have anxiety and stress over this. There are so many small things I can’t seem to do. I don’t talk to anyone about this because I am kind of disconnected from my feelings. I have a tightness in my chest, but I don’t associate it with feeling stress, I just think it is a physical sensation. (It is not heart related; I had that checked.) When I try to break it down, I realize I am afraid of finding out more about myself and the trouble my brain is having. It is like I need to find a resolution for my concerns and thoughts about things, but I can’t find it. I just spend my time searching for solutions and feeling incomplete. I think I might need a therapist to listen from the outside, though I repeatedly tell my wife I do not. I realize as I am writing this, that I am trying to work it through in my brain on my own, but it doesn’t get me anywhere.
When I tell Michelle about the fear, I find that speaking it out helps me to see it better. I know I am a verbal processor and so I know this will help, but I never think to discuss it with anyone. When I do, I feel the need to be defensive, and stick up for myself, more than to analyze it. This is because I attack myself in my own head, so I think others are attacking or at least judging me like I judge myself. But talking about it with my wife gives me hope, even though it doesn’t release the anxiety I feel of needing a resolution. When I don’t try to express these observations to anyone else, I am locked inside myself. The anxiety of being misunderstood is still big, yet when I do speak it out I feel it helps.
I am intelligent, but there is no way for me to show it or do anything with it. This causes huge frustration, which I bottle up inside. I am not even aware that I am all bottled up, because it is internal turmoil and I am often disconnected from it. Then when I lash out and say things that hurt my wife or others in my family it seems cruel and intentional, but it really comes out of the tension and anxiety. They might not even know I have it, in fact, I might not even know I have it, but it overflows in really negative ways all over them. I don’t recognize how it hurts them. Most of the time I feel polished on the outside, but I live in chaos on the inside. It all feels fake and then when I realize it, makes me feel bad and supports my negative self-talk, “I am a loser. I can’t do anything right.” All the things I tell myself which creates a spiral into negativity. I feel so helpless.
Sometimes I am surrounded in a bubble of inactivity, and the skin of the bubble is fear. Huge fear. Fear, even panic is the root. I have obsessive thoughts of not doing something right. I have an imaginary standard I can’t live up to within myself. I am so aware of what I am not good at, that I can’t see what I am good at. For example, I am losing things all the time. So much so that it is exhausting. I am always afraid I am going to lose something. I lose everything; thoughts possessions, ideas, to-dos. I can’t see past this deficit to see my strengths because I am dealing with the deficit all the time.
There was a time, I couldn’t find my sunglasses, which created anxiety and stress for me. I could not stop looking until I found them. I was obsessive about it and I know that, but to relieve the anxiety, I had to find them. It’s painful because it seems I am always looking for my stuff. I tried to get things together and I have a system to always put them back where they go. The glasses should have been in my bag, but fear had me doubting if I had put them there. I had to stop the car on the side of the road to look again. I have this dread of things not being where they are supposed to be. It is like obsessive tendencies of forgetting if I did something, or having to check multiple times for something. It is fear that I can’t trust myself, so I am second guessing myself many times every day which makes getting anything accomplished slow, if at all.
When there is extra situational stress in my life these troubles are magnified. My symptoms get out of control. When I think of the highest stress I have ever had in my life, I was over the top with my symptoms. I thought I lost my phone and I found it in my bag which produced relief for a few minutes, which then turned into self-loathing. I panicked about something that I didn’t even lose. I was embarrassed. More and more often, this kind of thing happens every day, multiple times. I can’t tell you the fear this causes in my heart.
One thought on “Bill Chapter 10”
Ranging from frustration and fear to panic. Though experiencing different injuries/different circumstances, many people might see some of self in your descriptions. Thank you, Bill and Michelle for reaching out with enlightening information that can help others – help in understanding TBI victims and help in understanding ourselves!