The brain. What a strange and fascinating organ. Functional, and yet full of mystery as well as neurons. The neurons can also be quite fascinating.
Especially when they refuse to do what you would like them to do.
Take my brain and my neurons, for example. All over the shop, like Spaghetti Junction. In my brain the neurons are like lost drivers without a map, driving aimlessly and endlessly down blind alleys, through roundabouts without looking, jumping red lights and generally having severe – sometimes fatal – accidents on a more-or-less daily basis. Little tiny cells in my brain are killed every single day just through the simple act of living, except that – unlike people – new ones are not created. What’s dead stays dead. As a result, pieces of my past go missing, never to be found. Memories become confused and jumbled. I’m clumsy. I’m forgetful. I can’t be out in public alone in case I wander out in front of a car without noticing.
You see, my brain isn’t well. It isn’t well at all. It was born with two neurological disorders – Autism and Epilepsy.
It’s very important for you, dear reader, to remember this very valid point. My body, aside from a very common problem that gives me lots of allergies, was born perfectly healthy; I have two eyes, two ears and ten of everything that I’m supposed to have ten of. I used to swim, cycle, dance and enjoy gymnastics. My body is not the problem; it is my brain that is unwell.
I also seem to use the word “Very”, rather a lot. Sorry about that.
For me, it’s a struggle to make sense of anything much during a day. I cannot understand why “neurotypical” people behave the way they do. I don’t often realise that I have said something offensive, or have made an inappropriate joke. I can not understand the very basic things that “neurotypicals” understand – because I am not one of them. My brain is wired differently and it cannot fathom how to work in any other way than the way it already does. I am not a stupid person – in fact, I am of above-average intelligence in the same way that many high-functioning autists/aspies are. On the other hand, when I don’t “get” something that’s been said, or I word something in such a way that it somehow angers people or makes them believe that I only care about myself (not true at all!) you might be forgiven for thinking that I was Very Stupid Indeed. Possibly even more stupid than Bloody Stupid Johnson from Discworld.
Certainly I can feel that way at times. It’s something that will generally happen to me when a “neurotypical” is belittling me or slating me for being a thoughtless, horrible person. That’s why I also suffer from shyness and anxiety, and really don’t like to leave the house or speak to anybody other than my husband if I don’t have to. It doesn’t matter if I’m unintentionally inappropriate with Tribble, because he gets me. He understands that I can’t help it. He knows.
And he loves me regardless. Because he is a good and kind man who doesn’t judge others on face value.
The Epilepsy is somewhat more debilitating, but fortunately it’s a lot less confusing than daily life is for me – as in, I may not be able to see what’s going on in my neural pathways, but I can feel it. I can tell when a seizure is about to strike and, if I have enough warning time, I can take protective measures against it – lie down in the recovery position or simply sit down as quickly as possible. Something anyway. It’s during these seizures that I lose parts of my almost thirty-eight years on this planet, and that is what makes me sad. The rest of it – the clumsiness, the poor balance and co-ordination – I can live with. Nothing too precious has been torn from my memory so far, thankfully.
I opened this account so that I could write openly about what it’s like to be inside my head, to be “different”. People gossip, judge and cast aspersions before ever trying to get to know the person trapped inside this messed-up brain. I wanted somewhere safely away from my main blog, that nobody can find unless I want them to.
I am hoping that, by typing out my thoughts and feelings about my condition, I may be able to look at myself more objectively and understand which of my behaviours are upsetting to others. I also hope to teach others not to fear those of us with brain disorders. We are still people. Very confused, sometimes frightened and often downright screwy people, but still people just like you.