Category Archives: Mental Health

Fickle Memory for a Fickle Brain

My mind is a slippery slope. It has always been this way. The more emotional my memory, the slippier it is. Growing up in a dysfunctional family where emotions ran high and negative feelings were the norm has had a serious impact on my ability to remember just how bad things were back then. My brain has done a wonderfully effective job of blocking the negativity. I know things were bad; I know things weren’t right. But I’ll be damned if I know who, what, where, and why. I grasp onto to the stories family members have told me like a drowning women hangs onto a life preserver. I cling to the memories others have because without them I am at a loss. My childhood resembles the Dark Ages of Europe – empty space where we know life was lived but not how. On the one hand, I am blessed to only remember the happy times growing up. However, I can feel those empty spaces sucking away at me like a black hole. Just because I cannot remember first hand what happened doesn’t make the damage any less severe. I live with the repercussions of events I can’t remember. Is this healthier for me? Is it best to keep those things buried in my subconscious? Every time I try to pull those fragments of my childhood to the surface, my mental state suffers. My hold on sanity quivers until it threatens to snap. My new family, the one I married into, does not like it when this happens. And who can blame them? It is not a fun experience to watch a loved one grapple with deep-seeded pain, with their always fragile hold on normalcy.

On the flip side, my brain has compensated for this memory loss by sharpening my capacity to remember the non-emotional side of life – a.k.a., data. Raw data gleamed from books and lectures and seminars. It made school easier for me since I had all that extra space in my consciousness. I excelled at the acquisition of data. It was my thing. It made research (a passionate hobby of mine) that much easier to pursue. But now that chapter of my life is over. My illnesses have stolen yet another piece of my life from me. My memory has disintegrated before my very eyes. Brain fog (yes, it is a real, biological event) has stolen my ability to move data with ease from short-term storage to long-term storage. My ability to retrieve data from long-term storage has failed me too. It makes remembering appointments and to do’s difficult. If I don’t leave written reminders around me everywhere, I lose track of them. They slip into the gaping holes that exist in my brain. And just forget about my formerly large vocabulary and eerily precise ability to spell the most difficult of words. Those are climbing out the window one megabyte at a time. That tip-of-the-tongue feeling we all get occasionally is a daily experience for me. I know I know something, yet I can’t recall it. It isn’t dementia; it is the tortuous reality of brain fog.

Today’s rant was inspired by a missed lunch date an hour’s drive away from home with a sister I only see once per year because she lives in the south and I live in the north. It was a lunch date with my Babcie (grandmother in Polish) to celebrate her 95th birthday. I really don’t think normal people forget important dates like this one. It is no wonder that I feel like I am losing my mind…

Disappointed in America

As an American citizen, I am disappointed in our federal government. There are no words descriptive enough to tell you just how disappointed I am. Congress was on the verge of greatness in December, but they wasted it. Instead of becoming legends in American politics, they took the cowards way out. They had the power, and still do, to make significant changes in this country for everyone – particularly those of us who depend on government “handouts” (and let’s face it, we all do in some form or other). Whether it be Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, vital research done by the National Institute for Health or National Institute for Mental Health, all of us with chronic illnesses rely on the government to lead the way for making our lives better. Our elected leaders have the power to improve our lives through the bills they pass in Congress. They have the power to stimulate the economy and lighten the burden on those less fortunate. They have the power to improve healthcare for the disabled, the elderly, and children. They could do so much for this country, but they don’t. They refuse to work together. They cater to the lobbyists and big businesses. They lose sight of what their true purpose is in Washington, DC. I read somewhere that certain members of Congress have said they will oppose any bill that could make the President look good. The number of bills that have been passed (or even voted on) in the past 2 years is about half the normal number of bills Congress votes on. This is a disgrace! Our political culture is a reflection of the declining care we provide one another. It is a reflection of our society’s focus on the bottom line instead of helping people. Shame on you, Congress, for choosing a short-term bandaid solution over REAL change in our country. Shame on you for forgetting the real reason you were elected. Shame on you for letting America down. This type of politics can only lead to America’s ruin…

The World We Live In

This is the New Normal: a world where going Christmas shopping can get you shot, a world where you need to wear a bulletproof vest just to see a movie at the theater, a world where we drop our children off at school and never know if it will be the last time we see them alive, a world where teachers are the first line of defense against a killer barging into the classroom. We no longer need to worry about the world being annihilated on a given date (12/21/12 is coming up soon) or a virus wiping us out or WWIII nuking all living creatures off the planet. No. We have seen the future. The death of humanity, of civilization, of life as we know it will be a slow Decay. Our humanity will be stripped away one piece at a time. It will be the slow rot from the inside out, similar to a tree that has its insides gradually eaten away by termites. We will not notice the extent of the decay until the whole thing comes crashing down. By then, it will be too late.

Our society is dying right before our eyes but people are so caught up in the politics of debate that nothing gets done. With each new step towards anarchy, we huddle in groups and point fingers at each other. This is not progress. This is the antithesis of progress. How young, how helpless must the victims be before we actually do something? The latest tragedy is not about school safety. It is not about gun control. It is not about mental health. It is about our Values as a society. We are raising generation after generation of disenfranchised individuals. We have lost our sense of community in so many ways. We no longer are taught about how we fit into our community, our state, our country, our planet. We all have a role to play in each of the microcosms. We have family responsibilities, as well as civil responsibilities. We should all feel empowered to be involved in the world around us. Life is not merely about getting by, taking care of our basic needs, living inside our own little world, irrelevant to others. If we live our lives in an insulated world with tunnel vision the norm in order to avoid being pulled into the larger debates, then why bother at all? If we, as sentient beings, turn our backs on each other and on our greater responsibilities, what will happen to this world we inherited? We did not claw our way out of the Stone Age to watch it fall to pieces now. Throughout history, humanity has moved closer and closer to more civilized living. Granted, we make one step back for every two steps forward. We are not perfect; we are human.

We have reached a critical time in history. We, as a species, have made giant leaps forward. We have the tools and capabilities to do so much. All of history has driven us to this point. What will we do with it? Will we meet the challenge of looking beyond ourselves? Will we be able to make a difference in the lives of others? Will we accept our civic responsibilities with enthusiasm? Or will we go gentle into that good night…