Author of Electro Girl - An inspiring journey into epilepsy awareness

I’m having a little vent today because I can actually remember what I want to say. Better that I write it down because it’s very likely I’ll forget it if I put it off to write it tomorrow. The fact is, these days my memory is many shades of fucked. I contemplated using other words in place of the F bomb but today, nothing better could take its place so I’m rolling with it.

Over the years that I’ve had epilepsy, which at the moment has been diagnosed as JME (Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy) I’ve had nearly 300 tonic clonic seizures. There has been no conclusive research into what the seizures actually do to your brain cells but I can tell you…it must do something because my memory has gradually become worse now than I ever remember it being. (Interesting choice of word seeing I don’t remember much so it may never have been good?!). My short term memory is actually doing fine, I do stand-up comedy so memorising bits that I get up on stage to do is really easy. I can remember social events I need to go to, lyrics to songs and how much I hate holding a plank pose in yoga class.

It’s the long term things that are the problem. The details of awesome social events in the past, not remembering people I met only a year ago and memories of my grandparents but I guess the pro to that is, I don’t have much of a recollection of why I can’t stand my ex boyfriends so I am looking down the barrel of the glass half full theory there.

It used to really frustrate me and I was really embarrassed because I’m a very social creature and I have done a lot of wonderful things and been to a lot of wonderful places and made so many fun memories with people, but a lot of that I just can’t seem to access spontaneously anymore. The people that I went to these events with recall the incidences very quickly and easily and I’m always left listening to the echos of the words “Don’t you remember that?” to which I more often than not have to reply “ahhhhh fraid not”.

These days, I need to just accept that I have a shit memory because when I think about it with a lateral view, mine could be the result of a few factors:

  • I smoked shit loads of bongs in my later teenage years and early 20’s when my brain was still forming so it could be that the 15 year old stoner is now ruling my adult life because of those marijuana infused choices all those years ago
  • Memory loss is a natural thing that comes with becoming an old fart
  • The effects of all the major trauma that my brain has been through each of the 300 times it electrically misfired and I end up frothing at the mouth on the ground

Am I doing anything about it? Well I’m glad you asked…

Like everything, the best way to deal with something that is deteriorating, is to strengthen your foundations to be able to cope with changes. In my experience and research, I have learnt that our brains ARE pliable. Did you know, you can actually take your brain to the metaphorical gym and do a few rounds with it in the boxing ring to toughen it up?!  I’m not saying go and beat yourself in the head, I’m saying that you can start to train your brain to remember things by exercising it.

Neuroplasticity is one of the concepts that grabbed my attention when I was researching how to make my brain a lean mean fighting machine. I came across a book by Dr Norman Doidge titled ‘The brain that changes itself’(1) which explored the concepts that by doing certain exercises you can teach your brain to wire new circuitry together that actually bypasses the wiring that is dormant and creating electrical storms in your head.

Another process I’ve found very helpful for my memory is to take herbs that are good for the brain. These herbs almost immediately improve my memory, clarity and focus when I take them. The more healthy red blood cells you can circulate around your body to your head, the better your brain health will be. It is for this very reason that I take either in a tea form or a tincture form herbs like Gotu Kola, Brahmi and Gingko. I also have Cayenne pepper in a smoothie every day or add some in a hot lemon drink in the morning.

I have tested this theory out and really notice when I’m drinking teas or taking the supplements /tinctures, my brain is more switched on for sure. When I have breaks from taking the herbs, purely because I’m being a lazy fucker, then I go back to the air head feeling, which as much as I have to accept, I still don’t like it!

My friends and family just see it as part of me now and jog my memory about stuff. One of the easiest things I find to do when I am feeling the wind blow between my ears where my memory is supposed to be, is to wear my heart on my sleeve, especially when I’m talking with people who remember me, but I can’t remember them. I just blame it on the seizures man. 5 years ago I would have never done that, I would have been too embarrassed, but now I explain my predicament, they let me know where we met, talk me through the party, event or funeral that we met at and more often than not, I recall the event or the place and go walking down memory lane with them.

To sum up, in some ways I feel blessed to have had a brain affliction, as it has made me so much more aware of how responsible we are for the kind of existence we lead. Without healthy brain function, we lose the ability to connect, communicate or be part of the whole picture that is this precious life we live.

Have an electric day!

Lainie Chait

 

References:

  1. http://www.normandoidge.com/?page_id=1259