And now I am 40
Today is my 40th birthday. I was going to keep it a secret, but what with Facebook and my newly found desire to tell everybody what is going on in my mind, it doesn’t seem possible.
I really wasn’t looking forward to my birthday. Forty seems like such a milestone and here is a great amount of pressure attached to it. If I lived in Perfect Land, when I turned 40 and evaluated my life to date, I would feel proud and humbled at my achievements and with renewed vigour I would see ahead of me green pastures and a pleasant land. I don’t want to live in Perfect Land – it seems a bit dull. But in Reality as I turn forty I see behind me a life lost and in front an unknown future. But at least I know that I am not alone in dreading a milestone birthdays – plenty of people do (look at Rachel’s 30th birthday in Friends!) and there is still time in my unknown future to find a path towards a greenish and pleasant land with some dead flowers – I don’t want Perfect Land , after all.
There are two ideas I know about being 40 – firstly – ‘life begins at 40’ and secondly at 40 you are allowed to start learning the Jewish mystical philosophy of kabbalah. In fact both ideas point to the same thing – at 40 you can consolidate your knowledge of life and begin to see the world differently.
As I turn 40 I do see the world differently. I used to judge people – because their child was rude, because they were a hypochondriac or because they very easily got into arguments with others. But now I see that it is not useful or helpful and that everyone has their own problems and I don’t know why they act as they do. I only know how I act as I do. So if I haven’t achieved everything I had wanted to at this milestone age, never mind, there is always another day, but at least I know that at this inconsequential age in my life I have turned a small corner in seeing the world a little bit differently.
In other news
I have now got much more clarity about my diagnosis. I have been diagnosed with a dissociative disorder and my symptoms are mainly brain fog. However, it might be that the brain fog is caused by absence seizures in which case my disorder is Non-Epileptic Attack disorder (NEAD) (a horrible name). Unlike clonic-tonic or partial complex seizures absence seizures are so short that sometimes not even the person who is having them is aware of them. Both dissociative disorder and NEAD sit under the general umbrella category of a Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) – ‘a disorder where symptoms are of apparent neurological origin but which current models struggle to explain psychologically or organically’ (www.fndhope.org). For some people the disorder is a reaction to stress or a traumatic event (eg being raped, seeing terror). However, only 13% of patients successfully respond to therapy as a treatment – and I think I would be one of the 87% who don’t because I do not feel anxious and haven’t had major trauma in my life.
Unfortunately to date so called non-epileptic seizures have received a bad reputation. Some doctors think that they are a sign of patients ‘putting it on’. However, I can safely assure you that nobody would choose to lose awareness as well as control of their body and suffer immense brain fog and tiredness after the event ie have a seizure. Especially if these seizures were happening several times a day and doctors could not find a medication or surgery that would help and the patient didn’t know what was triggering them.
My case is slightly complicated by the fact that I have epilepsy. EEG’s show that I have epileptiform activity (susceptibility to seizures) but I am not having seizures. And therefore it might be that the activity alone is causing me cognitive difficulties. So therefore I am going to start next week a new anti-epileptic drug next week to see if that helps. If that doesn’t work I will try a ketogenic diet which is proven to help some people with epilepsy. Although, with my brain fog, I know that this will be difficult for me, there is more evidence that this works to control epilepsy than a neuro-gym or a dementia drug – which I don’t think I will be prescribed anyway.
As I said last week, I am going to take a break from blog writing for the moment. I have seen enough doctors for a life time and now all I can do is wait and see if this drug makes a difference. But I will keep you updated every now and then on my journey.