Why My Brain Stops Working (and yours may too)

In which you learn about my brain, terror, and hope.


Sometimes my brain stops working.

Not like a "oh, shit, I forgot to eat something," low glycemic episode (because I made sure to eat to rule that out), and not like "Damn it, I didn't get enough sleep last night," (because I slept for 9 hours), and not like "Aaaaah I'm so worried and anxious I can't think straight," (because my pulse rate is normal, my breathing is nice and deep, and I've been sitting in my lanai for a couple of hours listening to birdsong and looking at our beautiful roses, which lowers cortisol levels).


Photo credit: Anthony Korahais

Photo credit: Anthony Korahais


See, sometimes my brain stops working.

It is, as you can imagine, terrifying. Part of me wants to say "especially because I'm so dependent on my intellect!" but who the hell isn't?

A part of me wants to create a mystic experience out of this and say "oh, maybe I'm just supposed to be in my body and turn off the intellect."

But see, I can't THINK.

I sit, staring at the laptop trying with everything in me to even think of a keyword to search for the data that I need. I just need to find my husband's travel itinerary, then create a car rental reservation. Easy peasy. Done it a million times, and a guilty pleasure (I think sometimes being a travel agent for the super elite would be fun - it probably wouldn't be at all, but hey, a girl can fantasize). 

I keep sitting. And staring. It feels like there's static in my brain. It feels sludgy. My eyes are heavy but it's not "go to sleep, Akemi" heavy. Usually that includes physical fatigue. My body's all like "hell YES let's DO something, we have energy!" (not always the case). 

So, in addition to terror, we can add my second-favorite emotion, frustration.

I'm not depressive with a capital D, like my husband, or many of the patients that have marshaled up the courage to walk through my doors. In Chinese medicine, there are different classifications of depression, so the diagnostics are a bit different, and include the emotions associated with different organs and meridians (don't worry, I'm soon to release a whole series on Chinese Medicine for your viewing pleasure). 

I'm sometimes haunted by a frustrated type of depression. Have you ever felt that? Like a deep inward need to DO something, but either your body or mind refuse to cooperate. You feel a build up of energy, usually anger, which can sometimes be accompanied by a wish to cry, somewhere in your body. For me, it's often the throat and the sternum. It makes me want to scream. I probably should.

I sit, in terror, and anger, trying desperately to diagnose myself:

  • Is it blood sugar? I ate
  • Poor oxygenation? Could I have sleep apnea? No, Akemi, this doesn't happen regularly.
  • Microcirculation. Check microcirculation? Alright, but we can only do that when we get to work by taking something with N-acetyl-L-Carnitine. That's still 2 hours away.
  • Uh, okay, what about...uh...shit. Right, low blood pressure! Could be. Let's check it.
  • No. It's probably a flare-up of the neurological autoimmunity. But why? WHY?

My thinking process happens painfully slowly. See, I'm used to remembering the last 20-30 treatments I've done off the top of my head. I can multi-task fairly well, and am well known for being in my office, working on patient files, monitoring the patients in the treatment rooms, and somehow knowing everything that's going on at the front desk. I'm used to wearing multiple hats at once. So, I should be able to do a car rental reservation in my sleep. And I CAN'T.

(Side note: Dr. Kharrazian's book below is an awesome resource for both the layperson and physicians who want to look into brain issues. FYI this is a referral link, and I may make a small % of your purchase, which I will faithfully use to buy more books to learn from).

Sometimes, I have patients who come in and confess, almost in a whisper, that they're scared that they might get dementia.

I used to brush that away.

Not anymore. I can empathize with the fear. And I take it seriously. I go through many of the factors that can contribute to diminished brain function:

  • Blood sugar irregularities
  • Overeating of grains
  • A possible past brain trauma or post concussion syndrome
  • Blood pressure issues (low or high) affecting brain circulation
  • Thyroid hormone imbalances (even undiagnosed)
  • Cortisol regulation issues
  • Neurotransmitter issues
  • Sleep problems
  • Sex hormone imbalances
  • Chemical and heavy metal toxicity
  • Gut-immune problems, like Leaky Gut Syndrome

I'll start doing a neuro screening to see if they're exhibiting early signs - often they are. 

I'm so grateful to those patients for speaking their fears out loud. If they hadn't, they could have progressed much more before lifestyle interventions, acupuncture, and Neuro Emotional Technique could make a significant difference.

I learn so much from my patients. And in this particularly challenging area of my life, what I'm drawing from is the valiant effort they make in consistently searching for answers and working towards healing. 

Here I sit, writing, hoping that I feel like myself again soon. I just have to keep moving forward. To keep trusting my body, and God. 

Succumbing to the fear does nothing to help my brain function - in fact, it diverts the majority of the blood flow to the hindbrain because it's attempting to kickstart the fight-flight response.  That leaves not much blood for my frontal cortex (the thinking center of the brain).

So, deep breaths. Maybe a prayer, and a shot of my favorite brain supplement. 

For sure, I'll feel better the minute I see the first smiling face waiting in one of my treatment rooms. 

Blessed am I.