It wasn’t just that I had paid my 1984 taxes, and IRS maintained I had not, it was that I could not get the truth to be acknowledged. I felt that if the truth, the facts, were acknowledged by the government that everything would be all right, that the abuse would stop, and I would once again feel good. IRS Stress ~ Read more.
I think that if what was happening had not mirrored something deep in my past that it might not have mattered so much, perhaps I could have behaved as if I were to blame, knowing within myself that I was not, paid how ever many times I was asked (if I had the money), and slept soundly. But ~ As Shakespeare (or Bacon) wrote, “Sleep knits up the raveled sleave of care.” I used to think the “sleave” was the arm of a garment, but it’s a skein of thread when it’s spelled this way and really that’s a perfect image: events of our lives are strung together on the thread of cause and effect, “If I hadn’t moved to Monterey, I wouldn’t have met John, and if I hadn’t met John I wouldn’t have moved to London.”
Similarly there are the events of the day, “If there hadn’t been a rush on this project I wouldn’t have stayed late at work, and if I hadn’t stayed late I wouldn’t have missed that important call.”
It’s all fine when things are chugging along in a relatively normal way, but when something goes so monumentally wrong that it defies being happily threaded together with other things, then there is little that can be knit and sleep is hard come by. At least that’s how it was for me.
Now that I’m living with the damage to my brain I’ve noticed that once my mind fills up, which sometimes doesn’t take very long, my efficiency is diminished. What seems to happen is that once my mind is “full” things no longer stay clearly defined, it’s as if they top their borders and become intermixed.
If you have ever tried water paints, you have some idea of how the most beautiful colors and effects can be created by just the right mixing, but all too easily too many brush strokes muddies it. You can throw away a muddy painting, it’s not so easy with your mind.
If, for example, your mind has memories from a worrying childhood, remnants of conflicting feelings, remnants of unresolved anxiety, then your mind space is not entirely free to begin with. If your childhood was primarily happy, then likely you don’t question that reality and you have more space, as it were, available.
Past worries, repeatedly drawn to the present, take up a lot of space. Once things become crowded in my mind they become mixed up and confusing. I begin to make exponentially more errors, the worst part is that I don’t recognize many as errors because they are perfectly in keeping with my mind.
That sense of anxiety that accompanies confusion, sometimes draws a halt to whatever it is I was doing. In the past I could not go back to the task or do any other task until I had slept. After sleep my mind was fresh and I could use it again, being careful to fill it economically so as to be able to use it for longer. Now I am able to relax more easily with the same restorative effect.
Before I had brain damage, I could look at books that were in no particular order on a shelf and know how to rearrange them into alphabetical order with about the same ease as knowing where the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle goes. My mind showed me things in a very clear way, very quickly.
Now, it’s as if I have to take each book and physically compare its title, letter by letter, to the alphabet: let’s see, this looks like this letter, and this letter appears to come before…
In other words, so much of the framework we rely on disappears when we have brain damage. The sense of continuity that we take for granted in the course of our days, disappears: when I leave the kitchen I can’t remember where I was; if I put down a book, I can’t remember what I was doing, much less the people I’d been reading about.
When I say, “filling my mind economically,” I mean that when I make things sequential they seem to take less space in my mind and become easier to remember. Knowing this, I approach things more methodically than before, and I understand why people with mental disabilities often get upset when things are changed from the way that had been familiar.
What I now understand is that with a mental disability, like brain damage, it can be disorienting just to have things moved around because that removes the last vestiges of familiarity, creating the feeling of being absolutely lost.