Ah, the Insomnia Fairy. That bitch really does like to hang out with me making it really difficult to sleep. Right now, it’s almost 1 a.m. (and yes, I’m still scheduling for noon tomorrow), and I can’t sleep, even though I’m tired.
Of course, that’s not the only thing. Twenty years of being up during the night, because it was the only real time I had any time to myself is a long habit to break. Well, much of that was insomnia too.
But, my sister reminded me of something, something I never even had any real awareness of. Living with someone who is emotionally and mentally abusive pretty much all the time (as opposed to the physical abuser, who might actually be in a good mood, or a repentant one, and be nice for a few days or a few hours) means that one never feels completely safe – ever. And for someone that grew up being able to sleep through things like WWIII, that’s kind of a shock.
But, I do remember eventually learning to wake up completely and immediately, rather than do my preferred “slowly develop sentience.” When it’s just me, left to my own devices, it can take 2-3 hours for me to come to a relaxed wakefulness.
The thing about it is, however, that kind of thinking leads me to my other fear – that I have some chemical brain damage from the abuse. It’s been fairly clear to me and to my sister that there is some damage, but it’s not clear that it is emotional/mental trauma based, or if there is a physiological component to it.
The problem comes in when one who has lived most of their life on the higher end of the IQ scale, gets tested – and the fact that the test may still come back as having more cognitive ability than the average person, yet still be indicative of significant damage. The issue came up with my father a few years ago. He had serious enough issues that he ended up in the hospital. Eventually, however, it became quite clear that he was developing mental issues. The dementia, thankfully, went away when his UTIs were diagnosed and cleared. But it was quite clear, and he was tested to figure this out, that there was some cognitive loss – somewhere in the range of 5-10 points of loss. In essence, he went from being smarter than 98% of the populace to being smarter than 95% of the populace.
What many don’t understand is that that amount can make a huge difference between who someone used to be, and who they are now.
And with that experience behind me, and the fact that I am having far more trouble thinking than I ever used to have, I am pretty much afraid that I have measurable damage.
People have looked at me funny when I’ve shared my fears about having lost cognitive ability. Some of them even laugh it off. There’s that whole idea that as long as you’re still smarter than the majority of people, who cares if there is damage?
Who cares? I do, that’s who.
The reality is, I have expectations of myself. I have things I have known in my past have taken only so much time and effort to figure out. Things that I have understood and have been able to extrapolate from. Data that has shown me clear trends and issues.
If I can’t do those things, I need to know if this is a temporary issue or a permanent one. I need to know if I can build up endurance again to be able to realistically have those expectations of myself. It’s a matter of how emotionally damaging a loss of cognition can be.
Can I eventually come to terms with it if it’s permanent? Yes, I’m positive that I can. But I need to know. I need to know if willpower and determination will help rebuild that back, or if I need to show myself mercy, and acknowledge that it’s the best it’s going to be.
It’s all about those invisible illnesses, people. You can’t know what someone else is struggling with inside their heads. Only when someone like me starts basically being completely transparent that anyone can understand what might be going on in someone else’s head. And this world is often too scary for many to allow themselves to be that vulnerable.