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?