Brain talk

0658/3rd August 2023

It is far too soon, but there has been a discernible shift.

Perhaps it’s just the cooler weather which is not typical for August.

Maybe it’s that the fields are planted with different crops. As they grow, the countryside changes.


But we’ve been here five years and I have never experienced this sensation before.

Maybe it takes that long to tune in to Nature when you have been cut off from it most of your life.


There is another possibility.

At the time we came here in 2018, I had been on opiate pain killers for over a decade.

2020, the year from hell, included my rather unpleasant withdrawal from oxycodone.


Some of my writing during that period will have mentioned that episode. There is no need to re-hash it.

The point is, without the dulling effect of opiates, I am certain my awareness of the world around me has become much more sensitive.

My antennas have been polished!


My withdrawal from the oxy was celebrated by my doctor as a success that he could claim to his employers.

One minute they are keen to prescribe a drug and having got you on it, a crisis develops because many in the healthcare industry mismanaged it.

By then you are habituated.


Having no effective alternate pain control, I was less than pleased.

However, I was fortunate in finding doctors who could help and a series of steroid injections have returned me to a more or less functional state.

Most recently, occipital nerve blocks target headache, which I mention only because of the strange sensation I experience.


It was my imagination, I decided the first time, but it happened again this morning.

Often I wake with a pounding headache. Since getting these shots I have awakened with the sensation that there should be a headache, but isn’t.

It’s as if my brain wants to hurt but it’s been tied down, restrained…


Brain and I “talk” sometimes. It occasionally protests:


“What did you do?”  

“You should know. You make all the decisions!”  

“Nah.  Not so.”

  “Of course you do. Otherwise, I’d lie around all day staying out of trouble.”

  “Except when you listen to the pump. That’s what gets you into trouble.” 

“Nonsense. I always consult you.”  

“Yeah. Maybe twice in….how old are we?”

  “Collectively we’re 75 but I have doubts about you sometimes.”  



Is it weird to talk to your brain?

Don’t we all, in fact?

Whatever we choose to call it.

The way I see it, my brain has been accustomed to hurting, but with the nerves zapped (another of my technical terms), it can’t.

So it tries vibrating but soon gives up.


As my writing suggests, I like to reduce things to terms that are easy to comprehend.

Looking back on the 50+ years since I was incorporated into the US health system, I am appalled to realise how readily I allowed myself to be placed on medications. I couldn’t even begin to enumerate them.

My parents both arrived at age 80 having used no more than the occasional asprin.


There are of course many conditions that require medication. I have an under-active thyroid, for example.

Doctors used to tell me that I should regard anti-depressants in the same way. Being dependent on them always made me feel like an emotional cripple.

(You should not.)


There have been many moments in my life when I was quite severely depressed and could not have functioned without medication.

One doctor who I had a high regard for told me he believed I was unhappy, not depressed and he was absolutely right.

If I could have corrected all the issues that made me so miserable, I am fairly certain the depression would have lifted.

But there was no way to accomplish it, so I took anti-depressants and tranquilizers and headache remedies.


These drugs I took in combination, often exceeding the amount prescribed. When the pressures of life became too much, it was the only way to get through my day.

A friend was a pharmacist. When she learned what I was taking, she warned me that I could kill myself.

Driving 30 miles back and forth to work, I regularly nodded off.

So then it was off to a neurologist for tests and more medications.

My digestive system had not properly recovered from a flirtation with anorexia and unsurprisingly, all these drugs made things worse.


More doctors, more tests, more meds.

When you are busy, trying to earn a living, trying to stay ahead of anxiety and depression, you don’t have time to analyse your situation.

You trust doctors and you take what is offered.


The kind of world we live in now, I’m not sure what the alternative is.

Anti-depressants and anxiety medication certainly have their place and I can only speak for my own situation.

What would have helped me immeasurably instead would have been a complete change of lifestyle.


But how often does anyone have the chance to accomplish it?

Knowing what I now know about benzodiazepines, anti-depressants, pain medications, would I have taken them?

More than likely because it was impossible, at the time, to conceive of living to the age of 75.


Because I knew it was “bad for you”, I never smoked.

Honestly? It had no appeal to me.

Young people do all sorts of crazy things and most of us survive, often with regret, sometimes with amazement and relief that you are still in one piece.


Most of my life I felt as if I was running to catch up. There was always something that had to be done, somewhere I had to go, problems that needed sorting.

It feels as if in 2018 I stopped.

Having unpacked my boxes , without realising it, I started to unpack my mind.


First, I stopped worrying about what people thought. Letting that go was incredibly freeing. The tension that knotted my stomach was released.

It was suggested I should write a blog and as I wrote I offloaded a lot of ancient baggage.

Unresolved issues were released.


When I found myself with new healthcare providers that made me uncomfortable, I did not go back as I once would have.

These days, I take few medications and it seems like the less I take the better I feel.

There are plenty of times when my messed up immune system flares up and those days flatten me.


When I think this time I won’t get back up, after a few days I inevitably do.

Despite my decrepit spine, my wonky eyesight, all those other age-related jollies, in many ways I feel better now than I did when I was young.

Which can only be because my mindset has changed.

6 thoughts on “Brain talk

  1. I smoked from the age of 16, until I was 60. I was a ‘serious smoker’, at least 40 cigarettes a day, (2 packs) sometimes more. I did shift work for 33 years in two stressful jobs. I never expected to live to 60, convinced I would die well before that. When I hit 60 and I was still alive, I replaced cigarettes with a vape, started walking for hours every day, and decided I might live to get my state pension at 65.
    Six years later, I am still genuinely amazed to be alive. The only medications I take are eye drops for Glaucoma. I still don’t expect to see 80, as I am sure that is too much to ask for. But if I do get to 80, I will have to think about where to go from there.
    You’re doing really well, Carolyn. Tell your brain how it is going to be, not the other way round.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. My view is that depression is far too often diagnosed with little, or no, evidence to back it up. That is, of course, easy for me to say as I have never been diagnosed with it! I take far too many pills every day and would love to stop them all but, as I said only yesterday, I am now in the “get on with living” mindset.

    1. I think healthcare in England is not the big business it is here. They start people of pills very young here. Fine when there is a good reason but in many cases one thing begets another and it is not good to start life that way. I hope you are doing better Peter. XX

      1. You are right Carolyn, although we tend to copy USA in practically every way! Not doing too badly thanks. Trying to learn to accept that nitroglycerin is a normal part of my life and is just another medicine rather than a panic treatment!

  3. In a way, I’m not surprised to read that you feel so much better now than when you were younger. I believe that one’s mindset has a lot to do with one’s health. A few years ago I realised that I should make more time for myself, not care what others think of me and be content. One may not always be happy, but I think a person who is content is a happy person. I only know you through your blog, but I think you’ve come a long way to be the person you are today … and I think you’re in a good place (not just in your mind, but also where you live).
    Oh, and I feel very content (and happy) now after seeing your beautiful photos 🌸.

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