A turning point in my life took place when I had a ski accident in 2006. I was wearing a helmet but I received such a neck throttle on impact, exactly like whip lash, that I was knocked unconscious for a few minutes. I thought my sympoms were temporary effects and simply rested at home for a few days before returning to work. After two months I realized I was not the same. Six months later I was alarmed. I could not describe it to others because they thought I “looked fine,” or I “was getting older” and I should expect some cognitive gaps. “This happens to everyone” they would tell me. I analyzed data in my corporate job and my ability to focus and analyze data had changed. I also did not feel comfortable in crowds or in noisy places. I was easily tired and distracted. My closest family members who knew me best noticed I was somehow different, not myself, and not as present.
More importantly, I noticed my confidence was shaken as I was making increasing mistakes at home and work. It became worse over time . After a long period of advocating for myself, I decided I needed to take a new look at how I functioned at home and work. I needed to redesign my work. I also needed to reassess the types of activities that make me happy. In addition, I needed to step back and rethink how I defined my identity.
After a longer period of time, I thought, at this stage in my recovey: I can accept defeat or I can reassess my skills, functions and happiness at work and at home. So here is what I did. I redesigned my work. I redesigned my home life and my free time. I kept working but cut back my hours significantly. I created a new support network and took my life by the reigns again, so to speak. We came up with a plan not only that I liked, but one I liked better than what I was doing before.not rted exercising regularly again.
The biggest thing for me? The redesign of my work to focus on the skills I enjoyed the most now and the ones I am now most strong in turned my life around another 180 degrees to where I wanted to be. At first I struggled with an identity impact because before this I saw myself as the professional role I held. I examined the limiting beliefs I held about how I defined my identity. I learned to let go and love the person I really am inside and outside.
It turns out I’m not the only one who has had this journey. I meet many others who were high functioning, in professional jobs, and who have suffered a life changing injury or event that meant they could not work or play exactly the same way they had been doing so before. They felt their identity changed or was taken away. The crazy part was that much of their injury or effect was not visible to others. They looked fine. No one could see it but them.
Well intended friends or coworkers say to them: “You’re doing fine. We all have memory lapses, we all lose our attention to detail when we get older…. You are being too hard on yourself.” I get it. You know something changed those years ago with your injury and it took all this while to finally get a clue about a portion of what is wrong. But you need answers, how do you define this fully, how you do get help? how do you get better, and how do you find a way to feel confident and good about who you are again?
It is now my mission in life to be that advocate for people like me, like you. We are not alone and there is hope, there is a way to redefine your happiness, your work, your life!