There is crazy and there are cognitive disruptions. Fruit-loopy, nuts, crazy, mad, ditz, blonde, air-head, slow, the short bus – – you get the idea. Chronic pain makes us all a bit loony. Others join in name-calling and we even do it to ourselves, calling ourselves stupid or idiots when we miss a beat. Maybe it is time to accept that our illness affects our brains and minds. I don’t like having a disease that creates cognitive disruptions but I do like having an excuse when I blunder. Might as well laugh at ourselves. A lot better than giving in to the funny farm.
Let people say what they will. At this point I have been called everything under the sun. I choose to see it as ignorance in others. It has taken decades to get to that realization.
If you have the patience to follow my train of thought on this one, you too will see the humor in it.
The truth of the matter is that people with chronic illness, which affect the brain, will most likely have cognitive disruptions. It can make us appear as if their name-calling has truth. There is some truth to it. Wow, did I say that out loud?
Yes, along with chronic illness may come cognitive disruptions. I have already tried to over analyze this and made my brain hurt. There is a whole science behind it, coming at it from several aspects. Whether it is a traumatic brain injury or a disease like Lyme that greatly affects the brain, the brain does not connect exactly as it should under normal circumstances.
Let’s keep this simple so we can get to the funny part. The more we laugh at ourselves, the better off we will be.
Cognitive1. of or relating to cognition; concerned with the act or process of knowing, perceiving, etc.: cognitive development; cognitive functioning.2. of or relating to the mental processes of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning, as contrasted with emotional and volitional processes. ~ Dictionary.com
Cognitive Disruptions – Use me as an example
- CONVERSATION: Tracking a conversation can be difficult, sometimes worse than others. Incredibly hard to concentrate when I am feel particularly bad.
- INSTRUCTIONS: I have a very hard time remembering instructions the way someone else has described it. Paying attention to verbal details is difficult sometimes.
- NAMES: Peoples names are a very hard one for me and it has to do with cognitive disruptions, not getting older or laziness.
- PERCEPTION: My brain is so busy, on overload ALL of the time, that I know I am adding information (perception) that might not be full reality.
- FLEXIBILITY: A lack of flexibility because my brain cannot keep up with sudden change, it simply does not track it well.
The “Normal” Brain – Other people
Let’s compare the above with “sane” and “normal” people. Excuse me for having fun with this but there truly can be humor in this.
- CONVERSATION: When I say “NO” to a “sane” person, which part of that do they not understand, the N or the O? Are the “normal” people not able to track the word?
- INSTRUCTIONS: When I say “I need help” and their response is, “Your sweet attitude blesses me” exactly who is not processing information?
- NAMES: Why can’t “sane” people remember MY name? If I have been in a “normal” person’s presence for months, on a weekly basis for hours at a time, and used their name, why don’t they have a clue what my name is? Why when a “sane” person calls me “Mary” and I politely correct them with “Maribeth” do they continue using “Mary?”
- PERCEPTION: Have the “normal” people slowed down enough around me to get the correct perception of anything about me or our relationship? Or are they so distracted that they add their own perception of reality?
- FLEXIBILITY: If others who are “sane” and “normal” cannot be flexible to accommodate the slightest inconvenience of a chronically ill person, then who is “INflexible.”
Exactly who is having trouble with what? You are most likely tracking this story better than I am. My cognitive disruptions have created so many of my own giggles that I forget where I am in the story….
Solutions for the Crazy and the Sane
I have an excuse that I have a “Lyme Brain.” Instead of using it as an excuse, I find ways to overcome this shortcoming.
- CONVERSATION: I clearly know that I sometimes get lost in even simple conversations. I stop, ask others to repeat what they have said or to clarify it so that it sticks. As I am healing I can more clearly distinquish when my brain has more inflammation which makes it harder to converse. The earlier in the day it is, the clearer my mind for having important conversations.
- INSTRUCTIONS: I ask for written instructions instead of verbal because I know I will have to refer to them to follow instructions correctly. I accept that I need to carry pencil and paper with me wherever I go.
- I admit I do not remember others names and ask for them again.
- I write down people’s names so it will jog my memory for the next meeting where I know I will struggle.
- I try to help others with the name challenge. I repeat my name repeatedly to others. I spell it, and repeat the “I” for others because I know they will forget. I even make reference to Meredith Baxter–Birney when others refer to me as Meredith instead of Maribeth. I do everything in my power to help others with my difficult name.
- PERCEPTION: When I think another has been rude to me I will ask them to say it again.
- Usually I am right and they refuse to repeat it.
- Sometimes I am wrong and delighted to have the situation clarified.
- And when it really does not matter, I just keep smiling and move on.
- FLEXIBILITY: My test results for brain disorientation were off the charts at one time through my illness. When I had that information I realized that I did not have the capacity to be as flexible as I want. To overcome it, I started to be more flexible but moved through it VERY slowly so that my brain could try to catch up with my actions. Or maybe the other way around. I am confused!!!!
I am having way too much fun at the expense the “normal” and “sane” people. Please laugh with me on this one. We are ALL a bit nuts. We are all humans. Give each other a break.
Our ability to use our minds are different from a healthy persons mind. That does not make us crazy, that makes us a bit more challenged and a ton more creative. When one lives with a brain in this condition for years, we adapt and learn how to get around it. Have it long enough and we can even learn how it benefits us instead of feeling like a freak.
And….exactly who is the crazy one? Well…who says who is crazy? Who gets the right to make that determination on another person?
You should see the world from my perspective! You should see the world from the perspective of other chronically ill people who are rising above the pain and suffering to find healing and make a life out of the most insane nonsense called disease.
Just try to convince me that others are the “sane” and “normal” people and drive down the Interstate at rush hour. I might not be able to put all of my thoughts and sentences together correctly but watching road-rage is disturbing!!
Try managing the struggles of a chronically ill person with pain and trauma in their lives. Bet we don’t look as silly as our perception of the normal people in this world.
We are all human beings sharing the same planet Earth. Get along. Be nice to one another. Others are never going to understand our struggles with illness, pain and trauma. It will NEVER happen. We don’t want them to understand because we would never wish this on another human. We all have our nuts and fruit loops every day.
Find the Funny
Find the funny and do whatever it takes to get rid of so much of the stress around all of this. Plenty of seriousness already comes with it. Chances are we will all be called crazy by someone in our lives. Chances are we will perceive others as being crazy. Reign in our name-calling and be kind toward others. Be kind toward yourself. I am amazed at how far a little kindness can go.
How are you finding the funny in life?
Maribeth Baxter, HHC
Donations are accepted to serve others in their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, HHC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.