Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cars Like Brains

How many times have I had to explain to people that I am tired? More accurately, how many times have I had to explain why I'm tired or why I can't do something because it makes me too tired? For me this inveriably occurrs not after an episode of physical exertion, people get that, but at other times when it is mental or cognitive exertion that has worn me out.

For me, cognitively taxing activities are those that require my focused concentration, either requiring my mental attention on a specific task, or more commonly, requiring fine motor skills. Sometimes it is a combination, with results not unlike playing a video game at a really challenging level for a long time, leaving one dazed and confused, even disoriented.

The simplest way for me to explain this to somebody is to liken it to a car's engine. When it is in tune it is efficient. As the engine gets out of tune it loses that efficiency. It is hard to start. Moreover, it uses much more fuel to go the same speed as other cars. Eventually, if it is not tuned up it completely quits and it will not run anymore

My brain is the same way. It is very out of tune. If I try and do the same work as other people, my brain uses many more resources to accomplish similar tasks and the result is less. If I don't listen to it, it gets more tired, fatigues at a higher rate, and even shuts down.

One key difference is that a car can just get a tune up, a brain cannot. My brain can heal and recover, but it will never run. Actualkly, it is a lot like the vehicle I was driving when I was t-boned by a semi-truck. They totalled it. It could never be fixed to run like it did before the accident. I lived, but like my truck's engine, my brain will never run like it used to. It runs differently and less efficiently.

I don't dwell on that fact, but I do acknowledge it. I have to acknowledge it because that is the only way I can make my peace with it. Until I acknowledged that my brain was damaged and it would never run like it ran before I could not begin the monumental effort of trying to achieve my new personal best.

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