Applied denial – or what I did when my brain stopped working

On Sunday I had plans. I was going to see my friend and get my COVID jab – both very important things. I had got all my work done for the weekend and was in a good space. I put the kettle on and logged into my laptop. My vision was strange – sort of blurry. I cleaned my glasses but it made no difference. It was a bit disconnecting. I opened Facebook and tried to post my Yeme but it was like I kept hitting the wrong keys. I couldn’t make the typed words make sense. I was now quite worried and reached for my phone. Maybe my mental health was bad I thought so tried to call the crisis team. I couldn’t remember their number. This was getting rapidly weirder. I couldn’t get my brain to use my phone. I didn’t know how to dial numbers or what numbers were. I was terrified. I was all alone at Yennski HQ and couldn’t communicate to anyone that something was very wrong indeed. I eventually managed to call my parents from the recent calls list. My dad told me to call 000 which thankfully I managed to do. The ambulance got here five minutes later and took me to hospital. This was not what I had planned for my Sunday!

After being in hospital for about an hour my beautiful friend came to visit me. My dad had called her and told her what was happening. She stayed with me all day. Some friends are just gold. I waited for several hours until the doctor came back. He said my scans were clear – good news – but that it seemed that I had experienced a mini stroke or TIA. I asked if I could go home but I had to stay a bit longer. At about 7 pm the stroke nurse came and gave me a whole load of information, most of which I didn’t really take in. I had expected the doctor to tell me I had a migraine so was quite shocked at the idea of having  a stroke, even a small one. 

I am now in a position where I am more aware of the uncertainty of life than I have been before. Presumably I could now be more likely to have a similar experience or a worse one but I don’t know. I have lots of questions which don’t have answers. It is not good for my mental health that’s for sure!

I had a while of thinking I could have some kind of mid life crisis where I buy the Yennski equivalent of a phallic sports car. I actually gave this idea some airplay in my mind before I realised that I am the most responsible person I know and that I actually enjoy the life I have which was a nice realisation to come to! I don’t feel like I have spent my life doing things I don’t find fulfilling. If anything my life is extremely meaningful. 

I do feel very uncertain though. I don’t know how you are meant to feel when your physical health gives you a significant scare. Am I supposed to be all philosophical and enlightened? Am I meant to be angry and feel hard done by? Am I meant to get cranky with God? Am I just meant to be terrified or depressed? I don’t know. Maybe it is a few of those things and maybe how I feel will change with time. 

I do know ti is doing difficult things to my mental health which was already pretty tenuous before I had the mini stroke. I was at work today and I nearly had to go home because of my mental health. I feel like I am on the brink of mental health issues and want to avoid those if I can but it is really hard. 

I am practicing my strategies. I think that is all I can do. My strategies are formidable. I have a book full of them (The Guide to Good Mental Health on the Autism Spectrum). Despite my strategies I still struggle but I always figure that without them my life would be totally unmanageable. I have employed a new strategy for this situation: I call it applied denial. Applied denial basically means intentionally practicing denial about things you have no control over. In my instance it is my brain. I don’t know if I am going to have further issues with strokes. I might have one tomorrow or I might never have another one. There is nothing I can do to change this so there is no point worrying about it. Instead of worrying, I am going to tell myself that everything will be OK. I will still take the medication and do what I need to do but I will imagine there is nothing to worry about. I think this is a nifty strategy which is either going to be extremely effective or extremely ineffective but I will give it  a go.

My mum is very Christian and is constantly telling me we are mortal. Thanks mum, I already know that but it is a useful reflection in order to appreciate what we have. I may die tomorrow – everyone could – and it can be a helpful lens in terms of appreciating the good parts of life. It’s been a scary week that’s for sure. I can reflect on the good things I have and the lovely things I have done in my life. Yes, I think gratitude is the lesson here (and no mid-life crisis required!)

2 thoughts on “Applied denial – or what I did when my brain stopped working

  1. Yes, we never know what could happen tomorrow or in the next five minutes. I try to always ask myself if there’s anything I can DO about the situation. If not, then forgetting about it is the best bet, IMO.
    Worrying about things we have no control over wastes our time and energy.

    I like “applied denial”. It has the sense of an action, and that’s helpful for people who need to DO something. I would imagine anyway.


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