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Topsy Turvy

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Check out the Arclight Magazine article about my first book project


Life is quite topsy-turvy for me. I am always feeling insecure with myself. It has actually come to the point where I expect things to be wacky. When they are not, I really feel out of sorts. Give me some good old wackiness, then I'll feel good.

Today was no different, I had an interview at a Movie Theatre. Interviews bring up feelings of stress for me. But that is good, right. Don't people say that a little stress is good for you. But, this is a feeling of awkwardness, out of place. It's kind of like I am irregular, or a reject (I guess you guessed it's not a good feeling).

This has been since my head injury. Especially since my head injury. What do I mean, "since my injury"? I have never had an interview before my injury. I was only sixteen years old (even though sometimes it feels like it has been forever), when I had this injury. Nobody knows what it is like. I guess that goes for everyone. No one knows what it is like for anyone. But I am not a cry baby, I just want to live without this feeling that I am not right. It is not me; I am not a bad person.

Since I got hooked up with this data base on the web, I have seen that I am not alone. Many of the members have expressed similar feelings which I have been living with for the last twenty years. I am not alone, we are a group. We need to end this feeling of despair, though. How best do we go about doing it?

I am very upset with the lack of attention I get when I voice concerns to others. Is this caused by my condition, or is it just the way people are (not attending to responsibilities)? I am talking about the way (so called) professionals handle people's requests. Should it matter that my speech is slow and slurred, and don't forget, monotoned. This is over phone, not even in person. In person I often get paid even less attention, or at least as little.

I have described my physical condition, and people seem to equate my intelligence with my damaged physical qualities. I really don't know if I can blame people for their treatment of me. I think it may be one of the inabilities of people in general. People are not exposed to differences during their day to day lives. They live in one basic area, surrounded by people of similar color, financial status, and living styles. When they are faced with something alien, they stare, run, or even revolt. Pretty grim, but understandable. But not accepted, at least not by me.

I try to get out in society. Last night I got hit in the face (not literally), with something so striking to me. I was at a restaurant with my father eating dinner, and he pointed something out that was terribly embarrassing. I ordered chicken with mushrooms and broccoli, and to my surprise it came with linguini. I never order spaghetti or linguini because of the difficulty I have eating it. I order easy to eat foods; things I can eat in easy bites, such as meat, tortolini, or ziti. I do not order soup, jello, or ice cream cones. These require one to have fine dexterity ability, which I do not have. To eat linguini properly, you are supposed to use a spoon to twirl the fork into, this way you are not left with it dangling from your mouth. When this happens, you are forced to slurp up the danglings, making a sucking sound. There I was slurping up my danglings, with, I am sure, two or three spectators. My father pointed out my gosh behavior which I quickly corrected.

I must constantly be on top of my actions, adjusting my ways to be appropriate. I like to live my life in a way where I just live for the moment, without the pressures of how I come across, or how I perform. I don't feel that I can be that way since my injury. For the first few years following my injury I was not aware of my situation, and just behaved without thinking about it. But for the last ten years, I am constantly focusing on my actions, and how I come across.

My friend, Amy, taught me how to live in a way where I can live just for the moment, without getting wrapped up in the bull shit. I think she is leaving that state though. She is now in college, and is much more focused on what is going on with her life. Maybe that is it, immediately following an accident an individual is so traumatized that they are just surviving life. But as one gets more involved with life, they get sucked into a whirlwind, bills, car trouble, appointments, meetings, homework, real life; filled with headaches and pressures.

The only difference though is that other people are able to handle stress because they have the tools to do so. After a head injury you have lost the cognitive ability to deal with the normal stresses that come with living. As a result, we are left feeling out of place.

I was to talk about "MAGICAL THINKING." This is my term, I made it up, and yes it is related to head injury. I have experienced this phenomenon, and friends of mine who are head injured have also expressed similar occurences. I will give a few examples:

There is this girl I like, and she has a boyfriend, or actually a fiance'. She is a very nice person, and is friendly toward me. BIG MISTAKE (not really, but in my mind she wants me). She wants to be mine. This is despite that she has a fiance'. CRAZY! What is wrong with me? HELLO? This might be a good time for a reality check.

Another example would be the times that people are angry, or don't like me, just because they say no, or can't do something with me. This is my head injury talking. They might not like me, but there is a good chance that they just aren't in a position to accommodate me.

I should follow the advice of the HI program I attended: STOP playing that old record, "Poor Dan, poor poor Dan." I need to get all the facts, question and monitor myself always, this way I will avoid coming to the wrong idea. I have had a brain injury; my brain has gaps now, the neurons are not connecting as they once did, I must compensate for this.

"Life is so unfair." This is how I feel many times. Like I say, "life is so topsy turvy now." I don't know which way is up. When I am feeling good, I look at my life as an adventure, I don't know what is around each corner. This is exciting, but many times frustrating. I need to just let it go, and not take life too seriously.

When I am feeling badly, I can't let it go. I hold onto it, and take it for a spin. It is not until "after the fact," that I realize that I have held it too long. Too late now. So be it.

Check out the Arclight Magazine article about my first book project

Dan Windheim

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