Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Slow Road to Dementia?

April 3, 2017


Cognitive Impairment in Middle Age

Slow Road to Dementia?

There is only one thing scarier than dementia and that is early onset dementia. But both of these disorders have a neglected second cousin: a neurological condition known as mild cognitive impairment. It has been established that cognitive decline can begin in your forties. The condition consists of ‘subtle deficits in cognitive function that nonetheless allow most people to live independently and participate in normal activities.’ It can be, in rare cases, a precursor to full on dementia.

I am on a variety of psychotropic medications. so I am susceptible to this condition.  I am taking more than the British National Formulary permits. At the moment I am experiencing memory loss, inability to think logically, inability to read fiction. Non fiction is okay. Strangely enough this is not listed as a side effect. Ironically, among the books I can read are those of my old nemesis Theodore Dalrymple. My brain empties of thought. I am forgetting words and names. I run out of material in the middle of a conversation. The conversations and concerns of others are perplexing. I am feeling  increasingly detached from the world around me. It feels as though the world was designed for the young. Then people started pulling away, which leads, in turn to a fear of intimacy. Suddenly I am middle aged and increasingly useless. I feel helpless in the face of this. All I can do is write about it.

Plagued by insecurities and doubts I did the worst thing imaginable.: I googled my symptoms. I can feel my brain slowly atrophying. Am I facing premature dementia? I am in my early forties. I am terrified. I see class action law suits against the company that manufactures my medicine. I read about weight gain and feel my flesh expanding. I read about pancreatitis and feel a sharp pain in my left side. How much is real? How much is psychosomatic? I have been perusing articles on the web dealing with cognitive decline. Just because you are paranoid, they say, it doesn’t mean that nobody is out to get you. I feel as though I have lost myself.

I have been researching solutions. Can this be overcome/ameliorated? What can medicine offer? I often panic when I am confronted with brain fog. This exacerbates the situation so calming tactics such as meditation and mindfulness are useful techniques. I also considered vitamin B12 deficiency. I am in the risk category for this condition. I am vegetarian and often neglectful of my diet. Blueberries are apparently a miracle fruit that may even be able to reverse cognitive decline. Physical exercise, even walking, can alleviate the condition.

Other problems that mimic cognitive decline are depression, medication side effects, or an underactive thyroid. I am praying it is the meds. I am also praying that it is reversible.

edit: in case anyone is interested the illustration accompanying this piece is entitled ‘Iceberg’.

I Now Have…

April 16, 2008

A new Macbook complete with photobooth. That is where the tiresome pics of yours truly are coming from. The novelty will wear off soon. Now it is shiny, glossy and quite beautiful. Commodity fetishism reigns in these parts. The revolution can wait.

Mother was shocked that I bought a new computer. What would you like me to spend my money on mother: drugs, alcohol, junk food? The money I spent on my shiny new macbook is money I have because I never purchase those things. She fails to grasp the importance of a computer to my everyday life, to my health, to my general well-being. Sometimes when I am too afraid leave the house the computer it is my lifeline, my sole connection to the world. It is the same when I wake up in the middle of the night, terrified beyond reason, bathed in perspiration. The computer is the only thing that can stifle the babbling voices in my head. The only thing, sometimes, that can stop me from simply giving up. How can she fail to understand that?

If You Want to Avoid…

December 18, 2007

…exposing yourself as a refugee from the eighties, then for the love of cake, don’t use the word ‘ace’. Please.

And take a look at this – the only hospital in the country that attempts to help those afflicted with personality disorders is being closed down. The lunatics really have taken over the asylum.

(Nothing wrong with that – it’s just that these are the wrong lunatics.)

Its patients are mostly young women who, after traumatic childhoods often involving horrific sexual abuse, have become bent on self-destruction through prolonged bouts of self-harming, cutting and burning themselves.

The wrong demographic and the wrong kind of mental illness?


November 23, 2007

I know more about abuse than you could ever dream of. My mother says she only wants me to be happy. Is this an entirely realistic expectation? It grabs hold of my mind and it won’t let go. Surely contentment is the best we can hope for. Happiness is supposed to be a fleeting emotion. That’s why we relish it. Been doing something dumb – eating alka selzers like sweets. They expand in my stomach and the relentless hunger dissipates.

My Friend Lisa

August 2, 2007

Let me tell you a few things about my friend Lisa. She suffers from a mental illness known as bipolar affective disorder. She has spent about a year of her life in hospital. She does not complain, she does not make a fuss and, as far as I am aware, she poses no danger to anyone except herself. And she tries. God damn it – she tries. She has a part time job (she teaches at a local FE college), she has a certificate of higher education. She has a social life and a multitude of friends: a testament to her generosity of spirit but she often wakes up in the morning disappointed that she is still here.

It would be so easy for Lisa to ‘play dead’, to curl up into a ball, to cut off all connection to the world. But she doesn’t do this. She throws herself headlong into living. She has all the qualities that should be nurtured in a human being. One would imagine that she would be rewarded for her efforts. One would imagine that she would be rewarded for such behaviour. However, far from being rewarded, she is penalised. She has discovered that the single source of help she receives from the state has been withdrawn. She has been told that from now on she is not entitled to the assistance of a psychiatric nurse because she appears to be ‘doing so well’. She replied to this news with the words: ‘Has it ever occurred to you that one of the reasons I am doing so well is regular contact with the CPN?’ She pleaded with the team that manages her care to reinstate her CPN but to no avail. She asked if the action taken by her psychiatric team was a result of the drastic cuts to the health budget in this area. They admitted that this was part of the reason behind their decision. Whenever there are cuts it always seems to be the people who make the effort who are affected the most.

Rightly or wrongly, I cannot help contrasting Lisa’s case with Andy’s. He is abusive, regularly indulges in criminal activity yet he has a string of helpers traipsing in and out of his flat: social workers, CPNs, occupational therapists, you name it, he has it. Message received and understood: those who shout the loudest receive the most whereas those who make any kind of effort to engage with the world beyond the mental illness ghetto are penalised. Those who harm others are valued more than those who pose a threat only to themselves. Conclusion: the only way to receive help is to give up, curl into a ball and play dead. Fine in the short term but has anybody stopped to consider the long term consequences of this policy? Somehow I doubt it.

Publish and Be Damned

July 22, 2007

Just another point. Ms North, you asserted: ‘As to whether she is mentally ill, I just don’t know. The court didn’t seem to think so.’ The Courts? You mean the District Judge. Well, this may astound you but district judges are neither omniscient nor infallible, nor are they mental health professionals. Neither, for that matter, are the prison officers whose job it was to observe Lowde. Many mentally ill women are left to languish in gaol because the system simply is not equipped to deal with them. The ‘special hospitals’ are designed to deal primarily with male offenders. The fact that the District Judge chose not to take psychiatric reports into account says more about the lack of care available for mentally ill women than it does about the state of Ms Lowde’s mental health. See, the personal really *is* political, even more often than *you’d* think.

BTW, if Ms Lowde doesn’t suffer from any kind of mental illness does that mean she has been libelled by the many bloggers who asserted that she was? And do you condone or condemn the prejudice they exhibited towards the mentally ill during the course of their ‘battle’ to bring Ms Lowde to ‘justice’. You may detach yourself from such comments but the fact that you failed to condemn them speaks volumes.

Fresh Blood II

November 13, 2006

The media are bombarding us with statistics and dire prophecies. They describe the long-term consequences of the so-called ‘obesity crisis’. A few months ago we were bombarded by prophecies of a demographic crisis in which there will be an ambundance of elderly people and a dearth of young tax-payers to support them. And yet, one of the main objections the media voice against obesity is that sufferers of this disorder will die at a young age. When a person dies prematurely he saves the state the cost of keeping him in his dotage.


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