Competence Rising

We all want to be competent, right?  I once prided myself on my competence and efficiency at work, at my ability to manage my life.  An adult is expected to be competent.

After my brain injury, I was not competent for a long while.  My pieces of self were broken asunder, scattered like marbles on a floor.  I couldn’t figure out how to get my life to fit together again. I couldn’t find “me” in the wants and needs of the individual who always needed help.

Lost Marbles - Photography by Alexander Taylor

Nine and a half months later, I can say with moderate confidence that I am competent, most of the time.  What still trips me up is the effect that strong emotions have on my ability to think.  If I ever doubted that there is an energetic connection between thinking and feeling, I have no doubt now.

Take yesterday, for example.

It started as a good day – I got enough sleep and didn’t wake up with a headache.  A wonderful thing.

I went downstairs and noticed Otis, my boy cat, was drooling and moving his mouth in a funny way.  Periodically, his ears and head would shake in a unnatural twitching motion.  He wouldn’t eat anything, and went to hide in a box.  In short, Otis was not okay.

Enter emotions.  I love Otis, my daily companion of 14 years.  His pain and illness upset me in a deep, fundamental way.

A small being under my care was not okay.  Decisions needed to be made.  Actions needed to be taken.

And I was lost.  I felt foggy, barely able to remember what decision it was that needed to be made.  My ability to articulate fell apart; losing words, stuttering.  The idea of calling the vet felt like a herculean task.  I couldn’t wrap my head around exactly what I would need to say.  In sort, strong emotion had rendered me incompetent.

Thankfully, enter Mary.  She made the phone call.  She went with me to the vet and helped me communicate my concerns.  She talked me through making a decision.  She helped me, because I needed help.  I could, truly, not take care of such a simple task on my own.

A minor incident, you might say.  One of a dozen choices and issues that enters a normal person’s life on a daily basis.  True.  Yet, I was not up for the task.

I wonder when my competence will return.  Will it return slowly as my energy and mental function improve?  Was it destroyed and will it need to be rebuilt from the ground up?  Will it never return?  Will I always be weak and vulnerable in this way?  That last is my fear.

Logic, reason, says there is a good chance my competence will return.  Experience with the cycles of healing says things will not always be the same.  I am blessed with a continued trajectory of improvement.  So, time will heal me, so I am told.



About csequoia

I am the writer of The Foggy Shore blog, with a professional background in Environmental Science. Right now, I'm working on a book about living and healing from post concussion syndrome.
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2 Responses to Competence Rising

  1. velvetpuzzle says:

    Strong emotions still wipe me out this way too sometimes. Having your long time companion be sick like that is a pretty big emotional punch.

    I’m glad you have a partner that is willing and able to step in and help. What a godsend! My partner is not a great decision maker even normally, so for me it is often parental assistance that is needed, and I feel bad interrupting others’ lives like that.

    One woman I know who got a very bad concussion in a car accident close to twenty years ago said it took her close to two years to feel mostly normal again. Things take time.

    I hope the boy cat is ok. That is very, very important.


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