Yes, I have rules

Don’t we all?

Friends tell me I’m always overwhelmed like a cat running round in circles chasing its tail. They say I should stop feeling responsible for everything and let go of all the “shoulds” I live with. All except one, that is. I should spend more time just living my life.

Guilty as charged. They’re right—I am overwhelmed, I do feel a responsibility towards others, and I am compelled to go off in ten directions at once. But they’re wrong about the “shoulds” I live with. Those are my rules. They have become so familiar, help me stay cool when my emotions take over, and ground me when I’m feeling out of control. 


I push back when family or friends tell me what I should be doing because I am doing what feels right. I’ve learned and practiced these strategies until I’m blue in the face. And when I get overwhelmed, I’m reassured knowing that I have the tools I need at hand. They are like scaffolding, giving me structure I don’t get elsewhere. What can I say? I like them. They live in the back of my mind, and remind me that I can help myself.

My Brain Injury Rules

  1. When in doubt, don’t
  2. Check my calendar and TO DO list; set alarms for appointments
  3. Do one thing at a time
  4. Don’t even look at the computer before I finish my morning routine:
    • Shower
    • Dress
    • Take meds
    • Eat Breakfast
  5. Build in a delay—think before I talk
  6. Everything should have a home. Don’t put things down, put them back
  7. Stay in the kitchen while cooking or set an alarm to check in
  8. Take breaks
  9. The “Rule of 4”: Don’t walk out the door without:
    • Wallet
    • Keys
    • MetroCard
    • Phone
    • addendum: check oven & stove are off!
  10. Focus. Focus. Focus