Now in my late 50s, my head injury (at age 12) is deemed to be the source of my prospective and verbal memory problems, attentional deficits and occasional bouts of jamais vu. I compensate to some degree through having a relatively intact visual memory and good reasoning, which allowed me to gain a science degree, employment as a military engineering officer and as a civilian systems engineer. Doesn't sound that bad, does it, and, in general, it isn't. However, ...
Pre-accident, I was one of those annoying, natural, slightly extrovert, optimistic over-achievers; good academically and at sports, happy reading a science book, encyclopaedia, etc, exploring the countryside or charging around playing games with my friends. Afterwards, things were different. The effects of the brain injury are difficult for me to express succinctly. I am poorly motivated and feel as if I've just continued on the 'inertia' of my pre-accident self. Not "switched on" most of the time. I tick every box in the ADD check-list except their presence during early childhood. Great difficulty with social situations; although introverted, I'm not 'antisocial', I'm just poor at real-time bringing up detail about the people I'm talking to or the subjects under discussion, plus I tend to be fairly flat in speech and expression, making hard for people to converse with me at a social level. Apart from my wife, I don't have any friends; people I speak to at work but no "Friends" that I socialize with or keep in touch with (I am neither Aspergic nor schizophrenic, so they are ruled out as co-morbidities; depression is often suggested but no actual diagnosis has ever been made). Can't remember poetry or music lyrics or even tunes and have tried for over 40 years to learn the piano (I just somehow can't keep any continuity when playing pieces and still can't read music adequately (ie, no more than a couple of bars at a time)) and can't dance because I can't remember the sequences (dyspraxia isn't an explanation; I had reactions that would have put a cat to shame and am well co-ordinated). I've tried to learn Russian, but ... hey, ho, and am hopeless at computer games (shoot-em-up because I can't work out what's going on quickly enough and strategy because I lose track of things). Good at understanding systems conceptually; I tend to visualize them but often can't remember the names of the individual elements (rather like being able to recognize someone's face but being unable to recall who they are). A good example of the contrast between my modes of thinking is from when I tried to learn to fly a few years ago - aced the navigation exam, which required virtually no recall of facts but instead relied upon visualization and logical reasoning, but scraped through the law exam, even though it was multiple choice and most of the ones I got right were just best guesses (I think I had one of Shakespeare's better monkeys with me that day).
Adequate but poor 'O' and 'A' level results. I scraped through my degree, failed my 2nd year exams first time round and almost failed the 3rd year viva (couldn't remember the detail) - put down to "exam nerves" as I demonstrated ability in coursework & labs. Got married. Surprisingly, got good job offers from my interviews because of my flexible thinking, adaptability and innovation. After 18 months, applied to join up, breezed through selection process and started on next available officer training course. Re-coursed (ie, sent back to start of course) during military training for poor administration (eg, would have won war studies prize with essay if I'd remembered to type it up fully in time). Failed engineering exam during specialist training (to astonishment of staff) but passed a special viva. During my first few tours, got into hot water on several occasions due to poor administration (ie, forgetting to do things). I complained about memory problems during my first tour, saw the psychiatrists who put it down to long-term stress ('interesting' childhood experiences). Got divorced - a major reason being my wife couldn't take my disorganization any more. On third tour, problems really stood out due to nature of job, saw psychiatrists again who noticed excess left temporal slow wave activity and psychomets showed my verbal memory and attentional problems - review of my previous results showed these problems were present earlier but significance had been missed. Retained in service but promotion prospects reduced to zero (I couldn't have handled the necessary staff work). Left service after 16 years, got work as a systems engineer. Remarried ... fortunately, my wife is more tolerant of my problems but still gets frequently frustrated by them and I get even more frustrated by inability to do the things I would like for both her and our children (eg, "must do X with the children" ... several months afterwards "Argghh! I forgot about X! Ah, a brick wall, just what I need to rest my head against." - bang! bang! bang!). Ability to solve problems valued at work but disorganization, forgetfulness and general poor concentration have created endless problems and I am stuck at a low pay grade. Paradoxically, I gradually realized that I perform best and feel more integrated in what others tend to regard as high stress situations, as long as they don't involve too much recall of detail. I thought this seemed similar to the improvements that people with ADD have through drug intervention, tried pursuing it with my GP but that didn't get anywhere. I have never found a way to habitualize any memory / organization strategies into my life and my analysis implies I won't be able to without significant external help ... which won't happen. Recent long-term illness (eg diabetes, sleep problems), plus detrimental effects of ageing vision on my visual strategies, have exacerbated my difficulties to the point where I am even more concerned than usual for my employment.
Most of the time I am fairly phlegmatic about my condition and can treat it with humour; I'm also well aware of how much worse it could have been and generally regard complaining about it as pathetic whining on my part. However, there are occasions when I feel utter despair and this is one of them. I don't see myself as a "survivor", more like the slowly-fading ghost of the person who was destroyed 45 years ago and I'm angered at the waste of my remaining abilities (both on behalf of myself and the people I interact with) due to the negative impact of my dysfunctions. I don't see any hope for improving my situation, so I guess I'm just venting. OTOH, the optimist that lurks somewhere in the depths is probably thinking "don't ask, don't get and if the old routes don't work, try a new one" and I suspect that it's more that creature that's making me put words to electron - you'd have thought it would have learned by now