Cognitive challenges are one of the unhappy symptoms of fibromyalgia. I am lucky in that my brain has not completely turned into mush yet because of it. But between FM and the medication for FM, I have to admit that it might be softening at the edges a bit. Yet it has brought me closer in my quest for mental peace, in a way that I had never experienced before.
Featured image: Journey into the Light (8X10, oil on canvas)
Once upon a time, I could ace over 15 credit hours of courses a semester, along with teaching/tutoring and the myriad responsibilities that came with that, lab work as an undergraduate research assistant working towards an honors thesis, and still be able to keep up with all the bills, budgeting and financial responsibilities of our home, and perhaps more that I cannot now recall.
What would I have not given, back then, for some mental peace, some quiet space in my brain? To be honest, probably nothing! I just wished it could be tacked on on top of everything else! I took a lot of pride in being able to hold everything together by myself. I enjoyed the feeling of success. I did not know enough of what mental peace felt like to know if any bargain would be worth it.
Over the last few days, it has just struck me how I have been slowly letting go of all that more and more. I cannot place when it exactly started, or what the progression was like, but now, all of a sudden, I find myself barely remembering to pay the few bills that I am still responsible for. If one experiment schedule changes, or one extra thing gets added into my day/week, and the written reminders are not immediately updated, I often forget that those changes happened. I use reminders on my phone for my medicines, but if I miss the reminder, I even forget to take those!
All I can figure is that I used to have a mental PA, who was always up and awake at all times, and managed my day/week/life, and updated the mental calendar with any changes that happened, so I could keep up with it all – and now she is starting to slack. She often falls asleep on the job, or does not (re)calculate fast enough. This results in me forgetting things from time to time, making some embarrassing mistakes, others that cost time and money, and occasionally feeling as useful as a wallflower.
However, the upside of this is that it has brought me more mental peace than I ever had before. Much of the chatter in my brain seems softer now. The wheel in my brain that used to always churn, never allowing me to mentally relax, is now churning a bit slower. As a result, I am able to achieve a level of calmness in my being that I never knew was possible.
Even when musing about my past abilities recently – this was after I had just made a series of goofs because of my forgetfulness – the delayed processing meant that the musing was without any bitterness or resentment. There was only with a sense of nostalgia; like what an old person might feel, something in the lines of “I had a good run while it lasted.” And I am grateful for being able to make the most of it.
I did not choose to trade off my highly prized uber-independence for mental peace necessarily. But now that the decision has been already made for me, perhaps it is not all that bad as I thought it would be!