Back to Brain....

I haven't written for a LONG time. Even though I gave up playing The Shame Card many years ago, I am still deeply embarrassed by my long silence. I feel I need to tell you the truth so this is what happened:

At the beginning of last year, I was on an equal daily dose of Tegretol (Carbamazepine) and Seroquel (Quetiapine.)

Back in March 2011 I realised that Seroquel was causing me tough problems, so much so that instead of helping me sleep the medication was keeping me highy agitated. It was driving me crazy - literally.

As a result and under my psychiatrist's supervision, I had to wean myself off Seroquel over a period of three months whilst gradually increasing my daily dose of Tegretol until I ended up with my original daily dosage but with one medication only. I started to feel better as I got rid of the dreadful Seroquel side effects BUT it didn't take long for me to notice that something very unusual had happened: my brain had died! Or so it felt.

I stopped thinking. I stopped imagining. I stopped creating. The space between my ears suddenly felt like a desert. I felt like a part of me had died. I mentioned this to my psychiatriwt when I saw him in July and his reaction was interesting. These were his words: "Treat this as a holiday for your brain. It usually overworks so this is its opportunity to get a good rest. Enjoy it. Everything will come back in due course".

That made sense to me and yet I found my new 'dead brain' disturbing and eventually distressing. I remember having a conversation about it with my friend JC in early September when I became very upset. He comforted me saying that my creativity and imagination hadn't died but were just laying fallow. In time, as happens in a garden, thoughts would start flourishing again. I found this metaphor immensely comforting and followed JC's advice: I started writing little bits and pieces, here and there, just descriptions of what was happening around me, on scraps of paper. I was amazed at how my writing ability could stop abruptly - as if my brain was saying "that's it for now - no more".

When I became very ill seven years ago now, I did lose my capacity with written and spoken language but it was the 'mechanical' part of my total breakdown. I had never before experienced a loss of thinking/imagining/creating as a direct result of a medication. This gave me a new insight into the way some people refuse to take their medication because they feel so distressed at having 'lost' such a crucial part of what makes them who they are.

Another thing happened that I found difficult to overcome. By October 2011 I could feel that things were stirring in the garden of my brain and by November I knew I COULD write in my blog or my FB Page again IF I WANTED TO. But, after mourning my loss of writing ability for so long, when it came back I was ....  afraid to use it (that's the only way I can describe how I felt). I battled with my anxiety tinged with embarrassement for nearly two months before I managed to reappear on FB and at last on here too. Pushing through that barrier felt like pulling teeth!

I am not sure what the conclusion of all this is - or even whether there is one.

The only question I am left with is unsettling to say the least: is who we are no more than a few chemicals in our brain? 

to your blog

I am not bi polar. My husband and daughter are. My daughter has been trying to explain feelings like this for years. You wrote it very well. I am on immunosuppresants for a transplant. When I first had mega doses of the medications it changed my brain. I "thought' I was going insane. I could not understand why I couldn't control my thoughts. Or control my actions or reactions. I asked to see someone who then told me, it was just the medications. Two of the meds. alter my brain and my thoughts. This is something that varies with doses and different people. I am no longer the same woman I was before. I thought too, who am I? Where am I? Friends and family have noticed that I am not the same person. This is why mental disabilities are soo frustrating. You cannot see the disability. People do not understand. Without the medications or "chemical" imbalances we are different people. But we are still "who" we are. There is our "spark" of life in us. This is why brain imbalances and injury research is so important. To help us understand and to tweak our brains so those who suffer can have some sembelance of life.

It is a juggling act. To live with them changes us , to live without them is not an option. I think thinking of it, recognising it, talking about it and trying to "retrain" our brains are good treatments.

Good luck and I am forwarding this to my daughter:)

Thank you Anonymous

Thank you for your comment and your encouragement - I truly appreciate and wish you (and your family) all the best.

Gabrielle x

Hi Gabriele As I said at the


Hi Gabriele

As I said at the time it is all like gardening, In the spring little shoots start to emerge.

I am truly glad that 'Spring' has come for you

As always with love, JC

Thank you JC

Your garden metaphor helped me a great deal :0)

Thank you for being such a good friend.

BIG hugs

Gabrielle xxxx

Glad to have u back!<3

Glad to have u back!<3


Thank you Donna

It's good to be back :0)

Gabrielle x

to your blog

Dear Gabrielle,

Thank you for sharing the experiences you have gone through in the past year. you are not alone in them, although you often feel so. Speaking only for myself, your withdrawal from sight indicated that you were in midst of a time that did not permit you to interact with the Very Outside World of here ... And all we of this VOW could do was wait and hope you could and would return. I am so glad you have because it means that you are feeling better in yourself, and that is what is important - THAT is what I was hoping and waiting for! You have nothing to prove, nothing to feel guilty for. It is a pleasure to know you, if only remotely. With love, Tess

Thank you Tess

What a lovely comment! Your encouragement and understanding are wonderful gifts and I love to receive them.

Gabrielle xx

You are not anyof those things!

Hi Gabrielle,

Your latest blog post served to remind me that I am not any of those things (thinking, imaging, creating). All the things that I once imagined myself to be, I am not.

Once, a long while ago I was ill also and I ceased to be able to walk, talk or even think. 

At that time when at first I thought I had lost everything, I discovered what I had.

When I had lost everything I'd valued in myself or recognised AS myself, what was left was 'that spark' (mentioned by annonymous in a comment above). 

I came to be at one with that spark and content with just that spark (and the word 'just' belies its enormity and spendour). 

I'm so greatful now that I had that time, the falow time, which gave me the chance to meet, recognise and befiend my spark ... thank you for reminding me Gabrielle.


Go well

Much love



Thank you Julie

You are right - those fallow times are important even if they are not easy or even pleasant. I needed reminding too :0)

Gabrielle xx

from swimming to floating


It's great to be able to read you again - welcome back.

Also, it has triggered in my mind a connection with journeying into God.  I have been taking some time out myself recently, on sabbatical as I call it, on extended study leave as the diocese calls it, and I have been reading about prayer and how we sometimes feel dry, as though there is no-one alongside us any more.

One of the metaphors used in Thomas H.Green SJ's writing about this is of swimming - when we put a lot of effort into it, we go in a direction that we determine.  That may be against the tide or the current and it becomes hard work then.  When we stop resisting and start listening, instead of asking, we begin to hear what we need to hear.  When we begin to float and allow the current to take us where it will, then that corresponds, Green says, to being at one with God.  Our brain can simply look on in amazement at what is opening up for us - well, that's if the brain is functioning properly - and we come much closer to the One who wills us to be who we are.

So, my hope for you is that you are coming back to being the one you really are and can also begin to recognise that too as your thinking returns.

With every blessing, Mike  begin to nb- anfir

Thank you Mike

Your comment was both thought provoking and insightful - as always. I need all the blessings I can get at the moment so yours are particularly valued.

Blessings onto too you my friend.

Gabrielle xx

Light Switch

Hello Gabrielle,


It is so wonderful to have you back, I thought that you were probably not in a good place.  I know what you mean about the brain switching off, mine was switched off by drugs for many years.  It left me highly creative, but not too good at anything else.  Interacting with others was pretty much non existence and I couldn't hold a job down even if my life depending on it.


The change in drugs to Depakote (a new dx as well) has given me my brain back, I can think clearly now for the first time in donkeys years and am looking forward to possibly being able to get a part time job, but my creative juices have been a tad desolate of late.  That said, when I force myself to be creative, I am pretty wonderful, but the impetus just to go and create is missing at the moment.  I can feel it coming back slowly, but it's not there yet.  It has also switched off other feelings, so I feel a bit "dead", but it is so good to be able to "think" again and hold an intelligent discussion with someone - lol.


Take care and I look forward to reading more......




Thank you Sam

Thank yu for sharing your own experience. I was very interested in your story because Depakote was a disaster for me. It just to show how very different our 'chemical' needs are.

I am glad to hear that you are doing a lot better yourself.

Gabrielle xx

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.