Getting through my head injury requires sacrificing everything forever….forever ever?…forever ever?
Anonymous addict: “Hello, my name is Dana, and I am a recovering addict.”
Group: Hello Dane
Less anonymous Dana: No, it’s Dana
Group: Hello Danae
Less anonymous, slightly confused Dana: Dana
Group: Oh, Dan?
Less anonymous, mildly frustrated Dana: Like, Dana White. DAY-NUH
Group: We don’t see color Dawn
Less anonymous Dana: Think “ultimate fighter guy” (air quotes)
Group: We are lovers not fighters Diane. You can relax with us. No violence.
Now, most definitely anonymous yet indignant Dana: Now I can’t even remember what I was saying.
Group: “Heroine? Alcohol? Meth? Sex?“
Apparently obtuse Dana: What?
Group: Your drug of choice.
Less anonymous Dana: “Oh, of course. No, no, no, and yes.”
Group: “Really? So sex?”
Witty Dana: “No.”
Group: “Well, how about gambling? Religion? Power? Money? Greed?”
Dana: Uhmmm, I guess not. No, not really.”
Group: “Fess up! What’s the issue, girl (or guy, after all the name is Dana)?
Gender neutral Dana: “I am hopelessly addicted to chewing gum”
Group: “Seriously? What’s wrong with you? We are all serious addicts.”
Less anonymous Dana: “Well no I only chew gum. I can’t eat real food anymore.”
Group: “Food addiction then, eh?”
Dana: “No, I’m just afraid to eat sugar since it causes inflammation, which is not good for my brain.”
Group: “Dude, (or dudett), you are skin, bones, and organs, you could use some sugar.”
Dana: “Yeah, true…..but….
Group: “But what?”
Dana loses their balance and falls to their nonbinary knees.
Group: “You okay Dana? You look like you’re going to die.”
My name is Michael, and I am a chewoholic. Seriously. I’ve been sober 13 months. As cool as it would be, this post is not to discuss overcoming serious addictions like heroine or alcohol, but how Michael Jensen needed “discipline” and “sacrifice” to feel good about who Michael Jensen is.
At the rustic age of 22 I feel compelled to be honest about where I am at in my life. I have recently finished college, a four years in which I pushed myself to the brink of sanity by studying, volunteering, trying to start a podcast, trying to start communities of brain injured people (local and global), and more. These were four years of listening to podcasts, meal prepping, folding clothes, making my bed, with the very occasionally drunken night of college partying. Because of this regiment I achieved all of my academic goals.
What did I not have? Deep, fruitful friendships. I had a few, but not as many as I could have, especially after freshman year. I also stifled my creativity in many ways. Prior to hard schooling, I enjoyed writing music, telling jokes that made everyone uncomfortable, and a few times was even considered the life of the party. But no more. Not if I wanted that perfect med school application. I also sacrificed having a girlfriend. I mean girls physically occupied the space around me, but the relationships did not exist.
I say all of this because I believe the same characteristics that drove me into the heights of academic achievement, potential future fulfillment, and an excellent recovery from my TBI, dried me out of a lot of fulfillment and peace in other areas of my life.
You might say, well Michael, you can’t have everything in life, you’ve got to make sacrifices to get to where you want to be. I agree, but if I had taken an occasional break to be honest with myself, I could have avoided falling into the trap of putting off present joy, for being crazy successful in the future.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe deep enjoyment only comes alongside honest discipline. But I wish I had stopped to detach once a month, once a year, or even once an undergrad to ask “what are my current habits profiting?” (For me these were good grades, respect from peers, family, and teachers) “And what are my current habits degenerating?” (Relationships, inner peace, a drink with my buddies).
To be honest with you all, even when I did do this, I would see the lack of margin and spontaneity in my life, and realize that having fun, simply “wasn’t fun”. But it wasn’t until I carried this state of being “successful yet miserable” 20, 30, and even 40 years into the future that I realized a change needed to be made. How long could I maintain this asceticism and what was I missing because of it?
If you have read this far, thank you. Do me a huge favor and be honest with yourself for 120 seconds after reading this. Think of where your current habits will lead you 50 years from now. Just be genuine and honest. The next step is dialogue about this with people you are close with. But don’t worry about this yet. That post is coming soon. For now, just be real with yourself. Be real.
Recovering from brain injury requires hard work and discipline, but it also requires relaxation and rest. While you all are recovering, or helping others recover, please take the occasional night off and introduce yourself to a man named balance.