Brain, where for art thou?


My brain was amazing, it could remember finite details, find any page in a multi-folder litigation file, and had a cataloguing system that allowed total recall of all sorts of information. It was both analytical and creative, it could do amazing things super fast, faster than most other brains I had met. It wasn’t perfect – numbers were never its friends and the sciences (except geology and Biology) were not in the inner circle.

I thought my brain and I would be together forever. I knew the odd university drinking binge would kill off a few brain cells, but I was healthy, mentally active, and not doing drugs or anything else that would substantially interfere with the way my brain functioned.

That is, until it stressed itself into oblivion.

I thought I was coping with my life but a horrible job, a grey working environment, loneliness and damp weather (London during the GFC – fun times) took its toll.

It crept up so slowly I didn’t notice my brain function deteriorating, until one day I looked at a legal file and realised I had no idea what was in it (and it wasn’t even that big).

Chronic stress is a disease. Our bodies are so good at developing coping mechanisms, even just telling ourselves we are okay, that we don’t realise what stress is doing to us until too late. Whether it’s obvious like a skin condition, a hidden disease that creeps up slowly or the complete loss of memory and the ability to hold a thought without it scattering in the wind.

We take for granted that as we age our capacity for memory will reduce. We accept that to be the case. I was 28 when this happened, far to young to lose my brain.

I refuse to accept that its gone forever. So what am I doing to pull it back from the abyss?

For starters, understanding what was causing the stress and making positive lifestyle changes. Second, recognising that stress is a product of my mind and trying to live more mindfully and in the moment, letting go of emotions as they do not control me.

I have been studying and exercising parts of my brain that possibly contributed to the stress overload. (Not to mention writing daily and on this blog).

Finally, using Lumosity and BrainHQ to exercise my brain cells, firing the neurons and making them remember.

Its been 5 years and it is still a work in progress. I won’t give up but I do accept that my brain has changed and I with it.

Have you lost your brain? What steps have you taken to get it back?


3 thoughts on “Brain, where for art thou?

  1. As I understand it, most of the brains developmental process involves pairing down neurons and strengthening connections that it perceives a need for. (myelinating glial cells strengthen pathways) Emotion plays a large part in this memory formation and retention process. In fact, this is why people with a Broca’s aphasia (speech production difficulty due to brain damage in a specific area) may be unable to produce coherent words except for highly emotional ones such as the basic numbers (which they learned from contact with their primary caregivers during childhood) and curses (emotionally charged words). What you are describing in terms of performance, if I may be so bold, sounds like the effects of what you are perceiving as a drab life and the associated memory loss may be a result of that lack of stimulation.

    Find something that energizes you even if it means a new career or getting involved in something that feeds your passion. It would not be a good idea to spend your life climbing a ladder that is leaned against an unsatisfying wall just because you invested so much setting it up and beginning the climb. I hope this helps..

    • I think “Extreme Boredom” is a fair assessment of the situation I was in at the time and where the choices in my life had led me. I have definitely made many changes since thing, but find something that energises me and feeds me passion os always good advice. It was also so much easier to identify my passions before the brain eclipse…slowly returning…thanks!

  2. Fear & anxiety drove my stress levels to the point where I could justify any behavour. I didn’t lose my brain but I did doubt myself enough that what my brain was telling me, I ignored. When the dust cleared I was left with the desire to express myself in different ways to what I depended on before. Rather than hiding from things I want to confront them. I now seek clarity rather than bathing in clouded ignorance. Life isn’t so pretty or easy but at least I’m getting a clue about it. The path I was following was not mine.

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