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But after she was diagnosed with brain cancer in and began taking medications to deal with the illness, she became someone else—and not someone she liked. She was angry, cranky, demanding, insistent, unreasonable, intolerant, and sometimes a danger to herself and others. She made bad decisions. One day, she tried to walk home alone from a supermarket.
She was mean to her beloved grandkids, and rude to medical personnel who tried to help her. But she can point to the region in the brain that was affected. When her frontal cortex was malfunctioning, she could no longer control herself—all the rules about where and when to do certain things, and how to communicate, became irrelevant to her.
They were inaccessible, for all practical purposes nonexistent. The experience has changed her work. So when she recovered from cancer and the pressure was off her brain, literally, she applied her scientific knowledge to the terrifying personal experience and wrote her book. In one passage, she writes:.
Despite all my years of studying brain disorders, for the first time in my life I realize how profoundly unsettling it is to have a brain that does not function. And the more I remember from the days and weeks of my madness, the more frightened I become that I will lose my mind again.
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Perhaps madness is not the proper term to describe my condition at the time. After all, it is not an official diagnosis, but it is often used informally to mean instability, insanity, and and angry and disorganized behavior.https://twormicolrou.cf
Feel like I'm losing my mind
So instead I think of myself as having experienced a number of symptoms connected with a range of mental disorders. In other words, I had a brush with insanity.
And I have come back. The book is also an effort to help alleviate the stigma around mental illness. She went out on a limb, exposing the most unpleasant aspects of her otherwise highly accomplished and admirable existence so that society might realize everyone, anyone, can lose their mind, forever or for a time. Lipska was surprised to discover after the book was released just how many people needed to hear what she had to say.
She has been flooded with appreciative messages from people who say she inspired them. The neuroscientist can no longer completely trust herself or rely on the brain that made her into a world-renowned researcher. For a time, her mind failed her, and now she is cautious. There was just a way I behaved in illness.
I wish I could say that I have no idea what Lipska is talking about. But I do. It could have been a cumulative process, the result of a lifetime of use. But it could have been a million things. This, I can tell you. My head hurt. It all became one nonsensical story that I tried to sort through but could not. I searched for meaning everywhere.
I saw strange things happen—characters from different points in my life all driving by in a caravan in the forest, for example, all with dogs by their sides. Everything was intertwining. Perhaps I was a criminal. At home, I rearranged all the artwork on the walls after staring at it long and hard. When my husband asked what happened to the images, I told him I was trying to rewrite the story so it would have another ending. But then, the next day, when the art was all off the walls, he got beyond worried, especially when I told him I would be locked up and that it all had something to do with Donald Trump.
I saw a doctor. She had no idea what was wrong except that I seemed pale and thin. Next I saw a psychiatrist. Yet his response resembled the one I got from a nurse when I served in Peace Corps more than a decade before. And because the brain and its behavioral manifestations are so mysterious, and because we are so ignorant of it, we are afraid and ashamed of its power to destroy us.
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The brain is a different story, however. You could be shunned. In my case, a brain MRI showed nothing out of the ordinary. That was something of a relief, but also slightly disappointing. Some physical thing to point to would have explained the experience at least. The worst of it lasted only a few days. After two weeks, I was more or less fine. I spoke to friends.
I read again, without confusion. I returned to me. Everything went back to normal, sort of. But nothing will ever be the same again.