Working With Muted Results

Please respond to the following statements by choosing the answer that best reflects how you feel:

1) Strongly Disagree

2) Disagree

3) Somewhat Agree

4) Agree

5) Strongly Agree

This format seems to be the only way to assess psychological makeup because I was inundated with these types of questionnaires early on in my recovery. In order to understand what level I was functioning at, nothing could be taken for granted and a baseline had to be established. For this reason, I found the first questionnaire to be somewhat amusing, if not a little creepy, when faced with statements like these:

“Sometimes I feel like those around me are trying to steal my thoughts.”

“I know people are out to get me.”

“I spend a lot of time thinking of ways to kill myself.”

Rest assured I responded with 1) Strongly Disagree to all of the above. Aside from the occasional statement that seemed to come from way out in left field, these tests were useful for identifying issues and tracking changes. In addition to psychological and cognitive assessments, this style of testing was later used to help me find suitable employment.

I remember meeting with a specialist whose job it was to help me identify employment options that might mesh with my newly emerging cognitive status while providing some sense of fulfillment and success. After a bit of chit-chat, I was left alone to “respond to the following statements by choosing the answer that best reflected how I felt.” As you might expect, the statements here did not involve confessions to alien encounters or conspiracy theories. It was established that I was capable of work, now it was a matter of finding what kind. For that reason, I was responding to statements like:

I enjoy working with my hands.  3) Somewhat Agree

I prioritize easily and get tasks done quickly. 1) Strongly Disagree

I really enjoy delegating and organizing group tasks. 1) Strongly Disagree

Now, I really do enjoy working with my hands, but at the time of this particular assessment, I was in such a place that “enjoying” anything was a dramatic overstatement. Furthermore, I found the idea of working regularly so intimidating that every option was summarily ruled out. Amidst the host of Strongly Disagree’s and Disagree’s, an optimistic Somewhat Agree would stand alone. There may have been a couple Agree’s, but I know there were no Strongly Agree’s. A few weeks later, when I met with the specialist to discuss the results of the assessment, he explained my responses were so uniformly low that there was no conclusion. The fear, insecurity, ignorance, and apathy I was experiencing at the time had muted the results of the test. In the end, I had no leads and little motivation to find answers to the employment question.

History, as they say, is doomed to repeat itself, and though I have successfully gained fulfilling employment (with or without that assessment’s help) I find myself in a similar position. I alluded to this in an earlier post, saying the very idea of fun and enjoyment seems frivolous and self-indulgent. Thanks to feedback from that post, I’m warming up to the concept of doing something “just for me,” but choosing a pursuit presents a similar conundrum as that job skill assessment. The slurry of fear, insecurity, ignorance, and apathy continue to dampen motivation and, to a greater degree, initiation and execution. I can think of a few options, but when I gauge my excitement about any of them, the results are muted.

The initial school of thought here is that maybe I’m just a very apathetic dude now, that this development is just one more less-than-ideal repercussion of my brain damage. And if that’s the case, maybe I’ll never be excited about recreational pursuits, and would that be such a bad thing? Heck, I could quite easily and convincingly play this up as a positive thing – that I’m even keeled and super laid back. But then I remember two things: 1) Recreation and hobbies are not meaningless pursuits, rather they are valuable pieces in building a balanced life, and 2) In time, and entirely on my own, I found a job that is endlessly fulfilling and very, very enjoyable.

So what does that tell me? It tells me that, in time, when I’m ready and able and capable, I’ll find extracurricular activities that won’t seem like a chore to engage in, while providing a level of enjoyment and a fuller sense of balance to my life.

As I said, I’ve been considering this for some time and a few creative options have Strongly Agree written all over them, the foremost of which involves paint and canvas


About jaybrandsma

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4 Responses to Working With Muted Results

  1. Gloria says:

    Jay, I STRONGLY AGREE that the creative side of you is alive and well. You are and always have been very creative. Would you consider a painting class of some sort? It may give you just the right amount of “structure” and incentive. The kind of class that isn’t for credits or a “mark”, just for fun. Blessings to you in your pursuit.

  2. cheryl says:

    Do a figure painting class and paint some nudes. It’s a blast…for real!

  3. Julia says:

    I’d love to see you painting again. (with no pressure of course)

  4. aureol says:

    Stamp collecting, anyone??

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