What My Illness Does to Me

It’s like I’m brain damaged.  No, it really is that I’m dealing with a damaged brain.

J takes issue with me when I say this.  I don’t say it in a derogatory sense, I say it for the truth that it is.

Each of my psychotic episodes have caused decompensation to my brain to some degree or other.  The early 2010 episode is one from which I am still recovering.  An example:  tonight in a Bible study, I had very little to contribute to the conversation.  I’d read through most of the material yet I had very little (okay, no) original thought to contribute to the discussion.  This happens on a consistent basis.

I used to think my lack of participation in group discussions was due to my self-esteem issues.  However, I am re-thinking that theory now.  It’s not that I don’t want to participate in discussions.  The thoughts just are not there these days.  Comprehension of the question is there, but I don’t follow through with analytic thought from the question.  It’s like there’s a gap or something.

I can really only contribute to conversations in which I feel very safe and very knowledgeable, with first-hand experience of a subject.  What happened to the Caroline that could stand in front of groups and answer questions on the spot at work a few years ago?  She’s gone, that’s for sure.

My writing may not reflect it all the time, but notice that I only ever write about things I know about first-hand.

It’s frustrating.  Analytical thought used to be one of my strong suits; it was what I was trained to do in college.  I didn’t always speak up (because of the noted self-esteem issues), but the thoughts were there.  For Heaven’s sake, I graduated with departmental honors…you don’t do that from a philosophy department unless you can analyze pretty well.

I’m not counting on ever being like I used to be.  I don’t want to be that person again because I wasn’t very nice to those I was closest to most of the time.  My values have changed but I cannot stand the thought that I’ve become a simpleton in some ways.

And then there are the hermit tendencies.  I’ve fought it hard this week, my tendency to stay in my house, in my bed.  I’ve succeeded this week because I had plans every day.  The holiday season makes it easy to keep up the charade of a life outside the house.  But what happens in January, when Christmas is over?  I don’t have a good answer to that question.  I’ve got my routine that I revised since Rock Steady has gone back to school, but that routine only is a baseline…I don’t think it will keep me happy long-term because I need to be around people more than is possible with that schedule I’ve set forth for myself.

Forgive me the pity party, this post.  The events of the last week have caused some serious introspection and I’m just not pleased at my current level of functionality.

One of my assignments while I was in Outpatient at the Local Friendly Mental Ward was to identify three thoughts that made it difficult to accept my illness.  I don’t remember now what I said at the time, but I know for sure that I’d say number one today is accepting that my talent for analytical thought is diminished by my illness.  That’s a hard one to accept for sure.


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