Looped Conversations

Do you ever find yourself having the same conversation, over and over again? Whether it’s with others- or inside your own head. It could be about your goals, the latest thing to happen to you, where you plan to go next, what so and so did last weekend and how hilarious that thing was. Or maybe it’s that you have to work harder, things are happening and you can’t slow down otherwise they’ll stop. Anyone been there? How about  the classic “nobody will respect me if I don’t do this, or achieve this”. Along with this conversations, inwards and outwards, might be arguments. Differences of opinion, causing a ongoing discussion- many times within our own minds.

I’m not the only one to do this.. right?

It’s a good thing most of the time. Allowing us to push past the barriers we set for ourselves, break our own standards, and get closer to our goals. It’s what keeps determined people determined. It’s what helps us break bad habits. Whether it is people in our lives telling us that we can do something, even when our head is saying “no, I can’t”. It’s the opposite of that, the “yes, you can” voice when everyone else is saying “that’s impossible, you’re crazy”. I believe it’s important to have a balance between those two. They generally keep things in a good perspective, when utilized properly. Often it’s that inner voice that helps us to do what’s right for us, when that is the most important thing.

What about those conversations, those stories we end up telling day after day, to different people (or sometimes the same people again and again)? Are those words, those events we keep retelling, what make up who we are? I read somewhere once that our memories are reconstructed every time we think of them. I know from personal experience that memories I have seem to become different over time. Usually becoming more positive as I realize how I’ve grown and learnt from the original events. Things that once seemed like it was the worst thing ever turn into a good story and something to laugh at. Life is always changing, and so are we- therefore it’s pretty hard to let something like words describing an event, or a continuing debate or conversation define us. Who we are today is not necessarily who we were yesterday (coming from someone who is recovering from  concussion, I can vouch for the truth in that statement #moodswings).

Where am I going with this? I’m not really sure, I lost that train of thought 400 words ago.

I was having trouble thinking of what to write about this week, because my life has drastically slowed down as I’ve been doing my best to recover from this concussion. I would usually write about how crazy my life was, and what I did in the past week to work towards goals, or what new goals I’d set, or what crazy obstacle the universe had thrown at me. I’ve already covered the concussion issue a few times, so I didn’t want to focus on that for yet another week. Truthfully, I’m tired of thinking about concussions, and symptoms. As much fun as they are.

I have lots of those “looped conversations” in my life (you’ve probably noticed a few in my posts.. I natter about the same things over and over sometimes (sorry)). Whether it’s about school (which courses am I taking, what order, with who, planning the final years of my degree, etc), riding, working (you’re doing how many jobs?!), time management, diet, and it goes on. I often refer to my life as being 3 separate lives, my time being split between studies, riding, and work- with some time left over for my own fitness and friends and family. All those things kind of tie into each other though, and more and more I am finding ways to integrate all those different parts of me into one big me. The things I study not only have drastically improved my riding and fitness, but also changed the way I think about things. Work not only pays for riding, but more than one of my jobs also lets me use skills I’ve developed through both sport, school, and past experience. My friends and family are a big part of the reason I can handle all those different things at once. With all these things going on and feeding into each other, how could I not have lots to talk about to those around me- but also within myself. Those conversations didn’t necessarily stop when all the other things got put on hold. You may have picked up from the earlier posts regarding this injury (and other for that matter), that I wasn’t in the best state of mind.. necessarily.. when it came to accepting the whole rest and recovery idea. I looked for every excuse I could find- going as far as asking many of the people in my life for advice, somewhat hoping they would say something that I could interpret towards not slowing down and just pushing through. Luckily for me, I was only met with the answer I needed to hear (over and over again). So while those ongoing conversations inside my head are something that keep me moving and determined so much of the time, this week I had to work towards using them to do the exact opposite.

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Nothing.

Surprisingly, I actually was able to also quiet all those conversations in the process. Which was actually really nice. I spent a couple days just laying in the sun, on a dock, on the river. Listening to the birds, instagraming the crap out of the scenery, sprouting more freckles, and just doing and thinking nothing. Absolutely nothing. How’s that for brain rest? To steal a quote from a friend, being a “human being, not a human doing”.

When I wasn’t doing nothing, I was doing passive activities like making paleo cheesecake, napping, instagraming pictures of my food, testing my concentration levels, and visiting my horse (while being watched like a hawk by M- I swear, he thinks I’m going to somehow spontaneously melt). Speaking of the horse- A HUGE thank you to everyone at the barn who as gotten him out of the stall for me every once in a while (looking at you Lauren, Laura, Megg, and Marilyn). So comforting to know that he is in good hands.

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So now we’re entering Week 3 of recovery. Here is where I attempt a slow progression back into my regular lifestyle (don’t worry I have permission this time). Slow being key. I started by a short, easy 3 mile ride on the stationary bike while at work. Exercise progression starts with aerobic, once I am back to a higher intensity on that front I can move back into resistance training and riding. I worked a full day yesterday, and felt great.

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The absolute mountain of paperwork I was greeted with Monday morning. Just screams “welcome back” doesn’t it?

After work I made the mistake of trying to work on my case study- and had to stop after 20 minutes because of dizziness. I was only able to work half a day at my full time job this morning, as the dizzy spells were aggravated by my tasks at work. Should have seen that coming as when I woke up in the morning and was getting my stuff ready, I tried to pack my phone charger which I was convinced was my water bottle. Can’t explain that one. Tomorrow I’ll try a full day again. The only on-going symptom left over is fatigue. I just can’t seem to get my energy back. The doctor said that was likely, and that with time it would return. It’s still very much one day at a time. Definitely hit my head a lot harder then I originally thought.

How was that for writing about a week of nothing? I tell you I could make an essay out of just about anything. Mad talent.

Below you’ll find many snap shots of food, and random photography from the week. Just for fun.

Wish me luck with getting back to normal, or whatever you call my life!

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I’m not me

Okay, so last week was one thing. I described it as topsy turvy. This week was just hard to handle.

I’ll start off by reiterating that concussions suck. Also that I am the worst at taking time off. Like, officially the worst.

When I wrote last week it was pretty close to when I started noticing initial symptoms of a concussion. Loss of concentration, sleeping more than usual, fatigue, headaches, etc etc. I had been to a doctor, who gave me not much instruction or useful advice. He suggested I maybe take some time off and then re-assess. Standard procedure for a concussive event is to take at least 7 days off (no work, no school, no exercise, nothing. Off off.). I know this. So my brilliant self decided to sort of take the weekend off (I saw the doctor on Thursday night) and then try and do half-work days throughout the week, as well as classes and practical exams. I managed to keep myself away from the barn, though, so high five for me? No. No high fives. Throughout the week, I noticed many new symptoms. The most predominant being going from sleeping WAY more than usual to not sleeping at all. 18hrs down to 3hrs. Not okay. Mood swings. Oh my goodness mood swings. Losing my patience with everything much more quickly then regular me would. Feeling sad. Feeling anxious. Feeling great. Feeling awful- in a time frame of under an hour. My concentration and focus has yet to return.

Trying to work was the worst idea, as my job is all computer focused and requires a high-degree of concentration. I can’t read for more than 5 minutes without getting distracted, dizzy, or having to look away. Class is the other thing that was an awful idea this week. Tuesday was the worst, coming back after missing the previous lecture. I absorbed approximately nothing from Tuesday’s class. I sat there in a fog for the entire time, and skipped the lab because I just couldn’t handle being there any longer. Physically and emotionally. Thursday’s class was better. My focus still wasn’t good, but the class was a little more engaging and less reading focused. Thursday I was also required to do two practical exams (one make-up and one new), both which required me to understand, teach, and guide a “client” through two different types of workouts while being video-taped. Anyone want to wager a guess at how well those went? Understanding what I was teaching wasn’t there, and I couldn’t concentrate long enough to really remember what I was doing through the tests. So not expecting good things on those reviews. Friday I saw another doctor. A much better doctor this time. One who has a concussion specialization, not one who was working a walk-in. I knew she was good, because she gave me news I didn’t want to hear- even if I knew it was coming. At least another 7 days off of my life. Serves me right, I guess, didn’t reeeeaaaaally take the first 7 days off.

I know, guys, it’ll end up being 14 days. Why am I getting all weird about it? Who wouldn’t want a break?

If you’ve had a concussion, or know someone who has- you know how important it is to rest. You’ll also know how hard that can be sometimes. With other injuries there is usually a physical, visible disability that comes a long with it. It’s quite obvious why you are taking time off. To you, and to those around you. This is a very invisible and mysterious injury. You can’t see it. You can’t predict it’s healing process. You can’t push it.

The perspective of taking time off now, so you don’t have lingering symptoms for months down the line that interfere with your life further, makes a lot of sense. So what is it that makes it so hard?

Part of it, I think, is that this sort of injury tricks you into viewing yourself as fine, and thinking others will view you as fine too- and by taking time off when you’re “fine” people might think you’re just being lazy. This isn’t true, of course, but it’s really hard not to see it that way. Concussions come with messed up self-perceptions. Those who know me know that I would never just take time off unless it was well-deserved. I like to be busy. I take on as much as I can because I love to. When time off is necessary, I try every trick in the book to convince myself that I don’t need time off. I know, ridiculous. I know other athletes to this too. That attitude towards life is what makes what we do possible. Never stop. But when it comes to flipping that determination around to successful recovery.. sometimes we get a little mixed up.

I’m blessed with being surrounded by people that constantly remind me to slow down when I’m doing too much. Rather then support my irrational decisions to push myself harder when I need to be taking pressure off the gas they constantly put things into perspective for me, or attempt to anyway. Do I listen all the time? No. Should I? Probably, yes. Do I try to? Yes. Always. There is no way that I would be as far and as successful in my endeavours if I hadn’t listened to the advice and wisdom coming from these people at least most of the time. When I have thoughts like “people will think less of me if I don’t do this…” or “my life is falling apart because I can’t do all this at once..” (that one was an exaggeration.. I don’t ever think that… do I??)- I am only met with acceptance of who I am, and reassurance that I am doing just fine. Usually I am given exactly what I need for that moment. What more could you as for in friends and family? 

Another difficult side to this, that I’m noticing, is that I don’t feel like myself. Partially because I’m not able to do many of the things that make up who I am. My normal motivation for everything is feeling a little tired (that is probably a good thing- a little easier to take a break with this mentality) and my frustration levels are much higher then they normally are (probably not a good thing). Also because the symptoms of this concussion like to play around with my emotions, making it hard to handle things I would normally not even blink at. It’s comforting to know that these are just symptoms, and they will pass. However, it’s also scary to not have control over my own head- and not knowing what is coming next a lot of the time. This feeds into the challenge of being able to perceive how those around me are viewing me. It’s a little confidence shaking.

On the plus side, I have a fantastic excuse for pretty much any stupid thing I say– Nobody can argue “concussion” as reason for not knowing something or those everyday face-palm moments!

What are your concussion experiences (personal, or someone you know)? How did you handle them?

I am hoping that next time I write I’ll be a little more “me” and a little less “concussion”! Until then, wish me luck at not concentrating (hopefully the only time I’ll be asking for luck in this) and “staying zen”.