It's easier to write about this now that it's much less of an issue for me personally, but I'll write it anyway in the hopes that it will help someone down the line understand something about brain injury.
It's an analogy I came up with that I hope can help those who think anything in life can be just "powered through."
If my brain was a car, before the accident it got 45 mpg, cruised at 75 mph with no problem and often, could go all day and only needed oil changes at 3500 mile intervals. Maybe with age I needed to keep some extra oil around just in case, or brake fluid, and somedays it could only do 8 hours driving, or was more like 40 mpg some days, or needed some extra sleep or time in the garage, but otherwise, it was in good shape. Normal fluctuations. Maybe some years ago my A-game would have been 55mpg, 90mph, and oil changes every 4500 miles.
In the months right after the accident, I was lucky if it got 5 mpg, went 20 mph at best on a good day, could hardly run more than an hour at a time, and needed an oil change every 50 miles.
To the outside observer, that car can still go, and at any given moment might appear to be running just fine. And maybe it is, well enough & kinda sorta sometimes, for quick errands and short trips. But if you want it to run around town 2-3 days in a row when it hasn't refueled or got that oil change to recover from the first? It's gonna be a problem. Or if you want that car to drive a cross-country road-trip, you're in BIG trouble at worst, rolling some seriously dicey dice at best.
Here the around-town-driving is like every day expectations. The cross-country road trip would be a full time job, plus staying on top of housework, and maintaining a halfway decent social life.
It's just fucking impossible in a car running that badly. You push that car with the oil that low, and you're going to blow the engine. It's going to just plain stop when there's no more gas. There's no telling how much sleep it needs to refuel, or how long it takes to cool the car down and actually rest after you've turned it off.
These days I think I get about 25-30mpg, and can get up to 55 mph on a good day, and keep it going for 6 hours. I think it's about 2/3 of those "cross country drive" requirements. That's more or less my current "A-game." So loads of improvement, but still a ways away from normal.
If you've ever thought of telling someone to "just push through it," whether their obstacle is TBI, depression, anxiety, chronic illness, something else, or some combination of two or more, think about that car, and the repercussions if you push that too far. Do you know what it feels like to be stranded on the highway with a blown engine? I do, both as a driver and as a brain like that car, and I wouldn't wish either on my worst enemy.
author / artist rambles on about painting, writing, cats, punk rock, vampires, ska-core, mTBI, comics, and life in general.