Saturday, 27 June 2020

Brain Training

One of the other classic ways that depression has of wrong-footing you is through brain-fog.

Use it or lose it!

When I was ill, I found that the fog of depression quite literally entered my brain. What had previously been a perfectly adequate (and in some ways high-functioning) organ suddenly became indistinct, muddled and befuddled. I suddenly became confused by the simplest thing - like how to open a car door with an electronic key or how to tie my shoe laces. I also became chronically indecisive. If somebody in a shop asked me if I wanted a receipt - I would be glued to the spot in an agony of choice.  Furthermore, I didn't always know what day of the week it was and I couldn't remember the birthdays of my nearest and dearest. As for the geography of Norfolk - that had all become a blur.

Many people simply don't understand how much impact clinical depression can have on cognitive ability. At one stage I was so worried I went to my GP who peformed an Alzheimer's test on me. I managed to pass but struggled. I only knew the date because it was on my appoitment card. I was OK on the current Prime Minister and telling the time on a clock face but I couldn't remember the three names that were given to me at the start of the test. I passed but I was far from being an A grade student. 

But brain-fog is another of depression's little tricks - so don't panic. The brain fog just makes you feel even more desperate and plunges you further into the depression.

So, what I tried to do in the early days was to try and use the brain for brain-type things. I couldn't solve my depression but I could try to recite the alphabet backwards. I learnt our car registration numbers (and still know them); I tried to remember Led Zeppelin albums; I tried to remember churches I had visited in Norfolk. At work I tried to remember plant names. Gradually the fog began to clear. I was still struggling with depression but the purely admin function of the brain started to come back.

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