Cognitive problems, and treating yourself decently
I’m working on a couple of other posts, but here’s something that’s actually very relevant to a lot of things lately, which I just posted elsewhere. (Not least, why I haven’t been able to write very much lately.)
Reblogging two things just now having to do with seizures reminded me again that a lot of the “Cannot brain today” fog I’ve been experiencing is most likely an aftereffect of when I was regularly having multiple seizures a day, several years ago. (I thought it might be temporal lobe epilepsy, but it seems to have been coming totally from fucked-up electrolytes from celiac deficiencies.) I hadn’t even thought of this in a while, probably because of the damned brain fog and frustration! *facepalm*
From the brain fog link, I ended up trying the Online Cognitive Screening Test from University of Florida, out of curiosity, the other night. The results were both encouraging and, erm, really not. On one hand, yeah, I’m not just imagining that the brain fog is a significant problem; OTOH, scoring 1st-3rd percentile “very low” on an assessment intended for people with Alzheimer’s when you’re tired is more than a little demoralizing. 😦 Not that verbal memory and task switching are my strong points at the best of times; I’ve been hesitant to retry it when just “normally” fatigued. But, again on the brighter side, maybe I’m not coping so badly (and/or Not Trying Hard Enough) after all. *wry smile*
Not surprisingly, that also helped bring to my attention just how much crap I’d internalized about the value so often placed on being able to demonstrate certain kinds of “intelligence”. Erm, yeah, not so important—and not at all to your basic worth as a person. That even applies to me. Usually I don’t feel like I have that much extra to prove because of the “but you’re so smart!” expectations and autistic unevenness in abilities anymore, but sometimes it still sneaks up to bite.
The fog has improved some since then, but it’s still a major problem, with pain making it worse.
That hasn’t happened at all for (I think) at least a year and a half now—with no bitten insides of the mouth or other signs of night seizures either—but every seizure does damage.
And kicking yourself over the Cannot Brain really doesn’t help. I’ve been in a similar place before from intracranial swelling, and it probably will improve to some extent with time and patience. Even if it doesn’t, getting impatient with yourself over things you cannot control doesn’t help at all. Perfectionism sucks, even when you have only learned to apply it to yourself.
As the “intracranial swelling” link above suggests, I ran into enough “there’s nothing wrong, and you should just feel lucky to be alive!” denialism before that I only found out more about this stuff as an adult, and still haven’t been able to talk about it much because I was made to feel so ashamed of even admitting that I might possibly have some cognitive problems from it. If you know someone who has experienced some kind of injury–even if it wasn’t the spectacularly obvious skull-cracking kind, and even if you can’t see many of the problems they’re experiencing with their own brain (which nobody else can)–PLEASE do not act that way toward them. It’s about the least helpful thing you could possibly do, it can make people feel horrible about themselves, and it’s likely to reduce their ability to cope when they’re already having a rough time. And they might end up needing to write stuff like this a couple of decades later, yeah.
If you think they should feel terrible about having cognitive problems and other symptoms from a brain injury, you should just stay the hell away from them, and pretty much everyone else who is not that awful–until or unless you fix your own problems there.