All the Answers, None of the Answers

I’m struggling to write this morning. Nothing is working the way I want it to. I’m feeling that frustration with my brain that makes me worry about the future, about Alzheimer’s, and the losses I already see in myself. I wonder at times like this whether I do have early cognitive impairment, or whether these glitches that seem so intense to me are merely a reflection of poor sleep, poor diet, and lack of exercise. Oh, and stress. Lots of stress.

If that’s the case, there’s hope. I can make changes, choose healthier options, take care of myself. But will I? That’s the question that I’m struggling with most these days. Will I do any of the good things that I know would improve my life? Will I stop thinking about them and take action? Making a list of changes, it turns out, is not the same as making those changes.

I had to make a big health-related decision last week, one that involved doctors and procedures and tests. I was on the brink of getting swept up into the healthcare machine, when I made myself stop for a day and really think about what was happening. I read a lot. I thought a lot. Then I calmly cancelled the next appointment. This triggered a call from my doctor, who needed to cover her own ass and clearly document that I was in my right mind and aware of all the possible implications of  my actions. I was. I am.

Underlying my decision was the resolution of an interesting dilemma: do I want to prevent my own death? Here I was finally facing something that might turn into something-that-might-eventually-down-the-road-possibly-kill-me. What was I going to do about it? How much of a patient was I willing to be? How far would I take treatment? All the questions are hypothetical. I haven’t been diagnosed with anything. Chances are, there’s nothing to diagnose. But they made me think.

I decided that I would be willing to make lifestyle changes. I could give my body the best chance of healing itself by feeding it and caring for it. I would not accept the conventional treatments offered by our medical system. Not interested. So, why go through more invasive testing? I can make those changes myself. They’re beneficial no matter what’s going on. If I do have a condition that kills me, then so be it.

I’ve spent most of my life in and out of major depressive episodes. I’m one of those people who arrived on this planet and felt immediately out of place, out of time, unwanted and unlovable. There have been times I’ve longed for death, hoping to fall asleep and just pass during the night. I’ve cried at waking to another day. Still, I function. I get out of bed and go about my day. I do what needs to be done. I function.

I don’t fear death (not my own, anyway), and I’m not a fighter. Any disease that wants to take me before Alzheimer’s has a chance to set in is welcome to me. Meanwhile, I know that I can make some significant changes in my life that will benefit my overall health (including my brain). The only question left is: will I?

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