We survived Halloween Trick or Treating (or giving out candy) during a pandemic (see my pictures in my “Selby Sweetie Conclusion” this week). Then we survived a presidential election here in the United States during a time when everyone has an opinion (or kinda survived because they’re still counting). I try not to be overtly political on this blog. My reasoning in that is that I have a message (writing my brain injury story) that I want the most people to hear and by not being overtly political I hope to not alienate any of my potential readers. This blog doesn’t just have the self-serving goal of telling only my story. I hope by telling my brain injury story I can help shed a light on brain injury and what it’s like to live with a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
For this week’s #TBIthursday essay I am writing about a foible that I have noticed myself exhibiting after my TBI. I talked to my psychologist about this and he called it “superstitious thoughts.” That aptly describes what happens and I will explain what it is and how I am managing it.
In this week’s monthly feature (which is a book review) I discuss the young adult novel “Black Kids.”
A few months ago I discussed this mental foible with my psychologist and he coined the phrase “superstitious thoughts” to describe it. Basically I tell myself I have to do certain things to ward off something bad from happening. For example, if I want to pick up an object I will tell myself that if I pick up and set down and pick up the object several times in a row the thing that I’m worrying about (my family getting COVID-19, etc.) won’t happen. When this first started happening a few months ago I thought I was turning into Jack Nicholson’s character from “As Good As It Gets” (the character has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder [OCD]). Honestly I didn’t really think I had OCD but my TBI brain was behaving more superstitiously than my non-TBI-brain had in the past. And that concerned me. After talking to my psychologist he called what I was experiencing “superstitious thoughts“ and said my brain was probably doing it to warn me of when I was worried about something that I probably needed to address. A logical answer and explanation to an action that doesn’t feel logical.
Since the TBI my brain is definitely different. This “superstitious thoughts” foible is definitely a result of a malfunctioning and overactive brain. It’s similar to what is happening with my hearing in that my brain is overactive and trying to fill in the silences by having me always hear white noise (and distorting the sound I do hear). I often feel like my post-TBI brain is like an old jalopy that you have to do certain things to in order to get it to do basic things like running or going forward). The hand-me-down station wagon I drove when I was 16 was kinda like that (you had to brake a full block before you wanted to stop… and the thing was 💩 brown too 😎). Now instead of driving an old jalopy my brain is basically one! And this new foible caught me off guard until I got advice from my psychologist. He recommended recognizing when a behavior is done for superstitious reasons and telling myself that behavior isn’t necessary and don’t perform the superstitious action. And then ask myself why I thought that. Usually the thing I’m worried about is right upfront in the superstitious action (do x and y won’t happen). Once I started to be honest and address these things with myself the less frequent the superstitious thoughts got. For a while anyway. Then 💩 hit the fan globally (COVID-19, etc.) and I have more moments of superstitious thoughts. However, I’m not deeply concerned that I’m losing my marbles because I know what my brain is doing and why.
I really can’t speak highly enough of therapy. There is a reason it was a part of my TBI recovery program. Because understanding a changed brain takes work and help.
Monthly Feature: A Book Review of “Black Kids”
This is the second young adult novel I have read recently about race. The first was “The Hate U Give.”
This is another book review of a book that I am not done reading. However, I can confidently recommend it even though I am still reading it. The story is about a teenage black girl living in suburban Los Angeles when the verdict in the Rodney King trial causes riots in LA with people upset by the verdict. It is very reminiscent of the protests that happened following George Floyd’s unjust killing by a police officer in May of this year. I saw this book talked about then and when I saw it available to check electronically from my library I decided it would be a perfect read.
Don’t let the fact that this is technically a young adult novel fool you into thinking it’s lighter fare. It’s a heavy subject matter that benefits from the protagonist being a teen. She is being raised in the suburbs alongside white kids but a situation like the Rodney King riots puts emphasis on her race in a way nothing in her life has before.