I can still remember the moment as if it happened yesterday. I was driving back to university late on a Sunday evening when this weird feeling came over me. To this day, I cannot describe it, other than to say I didn’t feel at all well and it scared the bleep out of me. When I woke up the next morning, my mind felt ‘fuzzy.’ I couldn’t think straight. There was a buzzing sound in my ears. I had difficulty reading the newspaper and following conversations.
I had actually had two similar experiences before this, the first when I was 18 and the second, two years later. On the first two occasions, the symptoms went away after a few days. This time, they didn’t.
I saw a doctor at university, but he didn’t know what it was. Neither did my family doctor.
Because I had difficulty comprehending (another symptom), I scaled back my course load at school and even took a semester off, stretching my 4 year program into 5. This adjustment at least allowed me to complete university.
After some convincing by the doctor, I went on a medication (I think it was called Viovol), and while it helped with the symptoms, I didn’t like being on meds and I didn’t like the side effects, so I was on and off them for a few years and eventually, I stopped.
Over the ensuing years, the symptoms got worse. Initially, I felt pretty clear-headed in the morning and worse as the day progressed. Eventually, I felt fuzzy all day long. I saw many doctors, specialists and so on, but nobody knew what was going on. I tried all sorts of remedies, but nothing worked and nobody could help me. Somewhere along the line, a doctor called it a ‘brain fog.’ I didn’t want to hang my hat on this diagnosis, but it was a pretty good description of how I was feeling.
I did a lot of research on the internet and found out that brain fog is a symptom of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I have, or have had, all of the classic symptoms of CFS (I couldn’t tell you the last time I woke up feeling good). I also learned that CFS is connected to an imbalance or deficiency of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly, dopamine. Ironically, Parkinson’s Disease (which I also have) is connected to a deficiency of dopamine.
Through my research, this is what I’ve figured out. The mental-meltdown I experienced in university was likely the result of (1) excessive drinking (2) high stress (3) a poor diet (4) two severe head injuries (5) several traumatic experiences in the years leading up to it, and (6) the loss of two lifelong dreams (becoming a veterinarian and a pro hockey player). There is no doubt in my mind, although I can’t prove it, that these six ‘events’ (the perfect storm) combined to alter my brain chemistry, the outcome of which, was a brain fog and eventually Parkinson’s.
I also learned that what was fueling my behaviour, particularly the drinking, was the enormous anger I was feeling, mostly at that time, towards my dad.
I also figured out that in order to heal myself, I needed to purify my diet, so I have embarked on a program to return my body to good health.
There have been two other blessings in this experience. First, it stopped me from becoming an alcoholic, because I always felt worse when I drank, so I slowed down my drinking and now I drink very little. Second, it led me on a fascinating healing journey and spiritual transformation, which I think all forms of crisis are meant to do.
Have an awesomely clear day!