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Thursday, 1 November 2012

What to Do on Those Days the Brain Refuses to Function?

Lobes of the brain, color-coded.
Lobes of the brain, color-coded. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I suspect it happens to us all from time to time: we have a day when the brain just refuses to do what is required of it. Today has been such a day for me. Why? That’s easy. I’m suffering some sort of stomach bug that has meant I’ve needed to be close to the bathroom all day. I managed a swift walk around the block for fresh air and exercise but that’s all. Now, I’ve had this sort of event before (as a recovering ME sufferer, my immune system isn’t what it was and I’m a bit vulnerable to those idiots at my day job who fail to wash their hands after a visit to the loo: such thoughtful folk, eh?)

Generally, the effect is to deaden the creative and constructive part of my brain so that everything becomes a real effort; like trying to think clearly through clouded water. And, generally, my response to the physical results of such infection is to starve myself for 24 hours, consuming only apple juice warmed and sweetened – a trick I learned from a doctor years ago, which seems to work. But, of course, the energy levels suffer as a result and anything that demands extra effort is just a little too much.

So, what to do with the time? I suppose I could just give in and rest for the day. Read, perhaps? But I’ve been busy recently, devising and publishing a new book. And that means the emails have piled up. So, I spent a good part of the day dealing with those. Most of them are relatively undemanding, so not too difficult to make progress through the numbers and clear the decks for tomorrow, when, hopefully, I’ll be able to do some writing. I also had the basic themes of a review worked out in my head, so I was able to put that together and stick on the blog and Goodreads.

And that’s really what this piece is about. How to make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in. I could’ve given up and spent the day in bed. But what would that have achieved? I’d have been bored to tears and all those emails would still have been waiting for me in the morning to disrupt my return to normality.

I’m very lucky; years of writing have made it relatively easy for me to respond in plain language to messages. As long as I don’t have to get too creative when I’m in this state, I can generally manage to string some words together. But I couldn’t do anything that required the imagination and sheer concentration necessary for making a story. So, I do what I can do and hope to make the time that follows the incident more productive as a result.

I’m curious about how others deal with this sort of brain dulling. How do you cope? What do you do? Let’s share our experiences in the hope someone else may pick up a tip to deal with a similar situation when it creeps up on them.

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