By Sara Joy

Here are a few things I’ve learned the hard way that may help you in managing YOUR TBI fatigue:

  • You are hardly going to be able to stand being around certain friends, for 5 minutes. Others, you will gravitate to like a balm. That’s OK, they’re just too overwhelming in their communication style. You are not using them or abandoning them. Your reaction is physiological. It’s self preservation. Keep doing it. You are not being a selfish person or bad Christian/Jew/other religion….
  • Some people are animated in the way they talk, their facial expressions. They don’t STOP talking and are one big run on sentence. Others need an emotional connection with you all the time you are hanging out with them. And they want to hang out for hours! I used to be that over animated friend. I used to find introverted people boring. Now all I want to do is hang out with introverts, and I get panicked around emotionally needy people -even if they are needy with good reason! After all, IM needy! If you MUST hang out with an animated person or emotionally open person who you can’t handle, add an “Introvert Chaperone” so you can excuse yourself frequently, for a break and “Check out” mentally. Then they can entertain themselves together.
  • Weird “Sleepiness” in the middle of the day can be “The beginning of the end”. Take a nap when you first feel it creeping in, and you may forstall a full-on fatigue or “overload” crash later. Which as you know, will take longer to dig yourself out of.
  • Cravings you feel for sugar and entertainment are about trying to get endorphins, serotonin or dopamine raised. You’ll get a fast fix, feel immediate relief, but your brain still needs to rest. It hasn’t changed the fact that your brain is tired. If you are stuck at work, for example, and you’re downing chocolate all day, you haven’t helped yourself. Because you never turned your brain “Off” and let it rest. Stop beating yourself up about screwing up. That’s not the point.
  • The truly beneficial things that raise your endorphins and help your brain rebound from fatigue, don’t work unless you do them regularly. These things are: Deep breathing, Meditation (You can settle for “Not thinking” while in a still room), Exercise and Sleeping. You will see a change from day to day, week to week, or month to month – not moment to moment.
  • I know this brings you no comfort, but remember it anyway: TBI fatigue is a protection mechanism of your brain.
  • If you don’t care about anything but surviving moment to moment, your judgment sucks. Give someone who loves you and cares about you the authority to tell you what to do, when it comes to “What To Do?”
  • Take someone who loves you in to the doctor’s office. Have them take notes during the appointment, and discuss what the doctor has said, on a less tiring day. The doctor should be grateful you are even in the room, you are so fatigued.
  • Be honest with your loved ones, even though it’s hard to be honest with yourself. They are going to react normally to do something about this situation, long before you have the strength to do so. My parents never stopped searching for a treatment, and never let up on me. It took months to drag me into a consultation with a doctor who really helped me make strides in recovery.
  • Don’t believe your depressed thoughts or feelings automatically. You may not be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, because your brain is too tired right now to see that far. Change your feelings from the OUTSIDE in, since you are too weak to do it from the inside out. Go to the pet store and pet a puppy. Hug someone whose hugs you prefer. If you still feel pleasure when you hear music, listen to your favorite song on repeat. Sit alone on a park bench while everyone else isn’t there. Drink your favorite beverage in an empty room. Take a nap immediately. Afterwards, see if your outlook is different.
  • Eat regular meals. Don’t make more problems for yourself than you need. If you’re like me, you focus, don’t eat, overexert your brain on top of it, and are mean to people who interrupt you as the pain set’s in. Eat a snack. It will make you nicer.