This is part one of three in a series where I share my passion for DOING things to care for my brain. In parts two and three I share what specific things I do in my most effective anti-inflammatory healthstyle to care for my noodle.
Another part of my story:
When I was nineteen, I got bacterial meningitis, a form of infectious brain trauma that left me stripped of my life and I thought at the time, all my choices. After the infection, my brain was like a field devastated by a wildfire.
I lost almost everything people consider “normal” for daily life… the ability to drive, read, remember, control my emotions… you name it. I dropped out of college, quit my jobs, and did what the doctor told me to do:...
...avoid anything that stresses my brain and causes a headache and REST in a dimly lit room.
I was told that whatever function I didn’t regain in about a year, I simply would never have again.
Back then, it was commonly believed that the adult brain was all it would ever be. Damage to the brain was considered permanent.
A death sentence for a nineteen-year-old who wanted to LIVE.
I lost the majority of my friends, my work, many of my memories of the past and many of the skills needed to build a future… or so I thought.
I did what the doctor said, and guess what? After the allotted time past, do you think I was “better”?
Hell no. I was worse.
Suicidally depressed with chronic migraines and falling farther and farther behind in life by the day. I couldn’t feel and I couldn’t believe.
So what did I do?
Well, left to my own devises I would have done nothing. When you’re so far in that particular hole, you need help. Thankfully my parents never gave up on me.
Today’s big question: How does curiosity improve life?
As I said, I was so far in the hole, I couldn’t see anything. We had done “all-the-right-things” according to the doctor’s counsel and the results were heartbreaking.
My parents began to ask questions.
They got curious about what else was out there.
Following someone else’s idea of what might be possible for me didn’t work. Did that mean nothing else would work? Certainly not. But, how could we know if we didn’t attempt something different?
My Mom knew research can take ten years or more to find its way into medical practice. She asked the question, what does research say about the brain’s ability to adapt?
She looked for authors and speakers with experience in the field of neuroscience willing to share what they know. We needed new information to evaluate and new ideas to test.
This path ultimately led me to the place I am in now. Still learning, growing and adapting. But life looks and works differently now! I live within a framework and continue to expand that framework of skills every day with the effective tools I will share in parts two and three.
Today I can read, drive, and so much more. Plus the gift of learning to practice thought frameworks called, Mind Models ™, helps me have the power to choose my emotions and navigate my brain’s new wiring in effective ways on my journey in this life.
I'm not perfect and life isn't perfect, but gathering and using effective tools along the way makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE.
Have you ever heard the expression, “Curiosity killed the cat.”?
In this case, curiosity saved this cat! From a neuroscience point of view, curiosity is the only emotion that bridges from the limbic part of the brain (emotions and fight/flight/freeze) to the prefrontal cortex (reasoned thought and decision-making).
Practicing choosing curiosity gives me some power back in what feels like a powerless world.
Without curiosity, my world is held in the grip of certainty and self-judgment. Without curiosity, I cannot discover clarity. Curiosity is like GPS for my noodle, it helps me find out both where I am right now and what my path forward looks like.
Often when I am stuck, asking myself curious questions can help break the stuck stalemate.
Sometimes curiosity does feel scary to me.
It can feel big and threatening to ask myself questions (or be asked questions) when I’m inflamed or triggered. However, the value of a well crafted, genuinely curious, non-leading question is not to be minimized.
It is important to ask effective questions as well as questions that are size appropriate for the situation.
Too general, too big and too far away can often enhance my brain’s freak out or become discouraging or even threatening.
But, specific curious questions sized for what I’m working on right now can be a key influencer in my progress.
Curiosity can help me remove blinders and obstacles and discover new ideas and new points of view. It is the first part of a path out of the hole! Curiosity helps me find what works on a moment-to-moment basis and navigate the tough times from there.
Small, specific and meaningful questions are always there to draw me out of the past, root me in the present, and quiet the storm within.
So what questions am I not asking? Who might I ask? Can I give myself permission to ask questions of myself and others with genuine curiosity?
It takes courage and kindness and patience, with both self, others and situations, but it can be done friend. One, small, well worded curious question at a time.
In Part two of this post I will look at this next big question: What do I do to take care of my brain?
In my post next month I will share with you the results of many years of question asking on my brain’s behalf and a list of twelve “Noodle Care Do’s” I practice in my most effective anti-inflammatory healthsytle.
To your health friend, "Just keep swimming" - Dory, Finding Nemo