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Friday, June 10, 2011

The Brain is the Most Fragile Organ

One, two, three, four times and I caught myself .

"What are you doing?," I asked. "Don't let yourself go down this path again," I scolded. And then a small nagging voice in the corner of my mind said "See, you knew that you'd never be better."

But at least this time I noticed the signs and it didn't take me so long to see them. I tried to cling to that small ray of hope - now I know where I don't want to be and the small signs that I might go down that path again. And where did I discover all this? On a gray late January day as I lay in bed still in my pajamas at 3 p.m. And what did I discover? I realized that I was again sleeping all day and evading life. If I had something to do I would dress and get out of bed and happily migrate into the world, but if the day wasn't filled with an adventure I stayed in bed and slept and slept and slept.

The first day that I didn't get out of bed I figured I just wasn't feeling well.  I think I used the same excuse the second instance as well. I wasn't really fooling myself that time. And after a period of insomnia I didn't dwell on the indiscretion too much, until I realized that it didn't change the fact that sleeping all day was no better than never sleeping either.

So, on the fourth day, I gave myself a mental slap - "Wake up!," I said. "Don't slide down this path again."

And so I drug myself from my bed, forced myself to put on some clothes and I sat my weary body on the sofa and I forced myself to write out what was distressing me. There were so many things that streamed out of my mind as my fingers tapped out the words on the keyboard. Seeing them made a difference. They helped me sort out the mess that was stirring around in my mind. The clutter took order as my thoughts crept out of my brain, through my fingertips and onto the screen of my laptop. And as it had so many times in my life, the writing made me feel better. And as I had marveled in the past, the brain really is so complicated and so fragile and so adaptable and so strong all at the same time; and in it is all the answers when we look for them.

So now staring back at me were a mass of words and run-on sentences. Clearly reasoned statements stared back at me from among a rubble fragments. All of it reflective of what was keeping me in bed. All of it the remnants of my overly cluttered mind. And what I knew was that no amount of thinking or talking or musing would ever replace the writing process for me - nothing organized the thoughts that I didn't know I had in the same way as writing them down did. Nowhere else did my brain seem to make the same connections with the past, present and future as it did when it was composing my thoughts.

And simple as that - my reasons for staying in bed and sleeping away my life again - were staring back at me.

So much had happened to me in such a relatively short amount of time, this regression should not have been unexpected really. In six months I had had a major breakdown brought about from the bottom finally falling out of major depressive disorder that I'd suffered for more than a year. I finally faced head-on that I was more than an emotional eater - I had a full-blown eating disorder. I had finally given up all my trepidations and stereotypes about people that went through therapy and visited one myself. I'd met, lost and then restored a friendship with someone that had somehow accepted me for me. I had separated myself from an abusive relationship - my job. I had contemplated life's most difficult questions. I had started a jewelry business. I had decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had started to slowly let people in my life see the real me. I had publicly declared a year of me which had pressure all of it's own with which to live up. I was learning how to react productively when people said horrible things to me that in the past I would have internalized. I was looking at the beginning of a new freelancing venture which frightened me. I was financially unstable since I hadn't been working much. I had committed that I would move to a new city by the end of the summer. I had expected that I would have, even in this tough economy, to have found my dream career already. I was even sure that there was more, but looking at all I'd faced and encountered in the recent past, I realized that I had to give myself a break - I was doing the best that I could during a period of great transition in my life.

But from all of that one thing stood out most in all that I had typed. I looked back at it and thought about how the mind is really a miraculous mystery that hides sometimes from us so much and yet reveals it when we are ready to see it.

"I finally like myself enough to care that there was a small sign that I might be slipping back into depression."

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