I hadn’t gotten solid sleep for over a week, and a vampire (not Kristin Stewart! dirty vampire!) proceeded to suck the living crap out of my brain. On days when your brain has less depth than a Bristol Palin autobiography, how do you cope? I haven’t found any resources that discuss coping with braindead days with more than the canned “go meditate” or “pace yourself” recs. As someone that defines myself by what I get done, I want concrete tips that get me through the day without resorting to injecting HGH into my brain just to see what happens besides a tumor.
So here’s the dilly: You wake up feeling like a zombie, and you already know that you’ll get nothing accomplished today. You just wanna sleep until the day’s over, yet you can’t fall back asleep. This is what I do next:
1) Drink Caffeine
Yes I am well aware some of you cannot tolerate caffeine, but I know many of you can so it’s worth mentioning. For those that can, a strong cup can stimulate detox in the morning, which might otherwise be slow because of sleep deprivation. I know some patients that can’t tolerate coffee, yet get a great brain kick from coke. (Note: I’m not debating the long-term health benefits of either)
2) Drink Coffee Upside Down
Now if you can’t tolerate drinking coffee (and even if you can), a coffee enema is easily one of the best things I’ve done on bad days. Yes I’m putting aside my shame here in hopes that this will help someone. Here is a breakdown of why it seems to help me feel better immediately:
“The enzymes in coffee, known as palmitates, help the liver carry away the toxins in bile acid. The coffee is absorbed into the hemorrhoidal vein, then taken up to the liver by the portal vein. With the bile ducts dilated, bile carries toxins away to the gastro-intestinal tract.” – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/10903.php
If there’s more interest, I can do a separate post on CE’s, but for now I’ll describe coffee enemas as often the difference between me walking around giving everyone dirty looks jealous of their functioning brains, and walking around shouting “SOMEONE GIVE ME A MATH PROBLEM TO DO”.
Note: A water enema or colonic may have a similar effect, but it doesn’t have the enzymes which stimulate the liver so it’s more like a GI flush. A $50 colonic is also about 33 times more expensive than a coffee enema (the same as a cup of coffee.)
3) Drink vegetables
Do you ever take more supplements on bad days? I started substituting these pills with fresh organic juice: I saved money and got more immediate benefit. Even though it doesn’t fix the crash, something about the act of downing green juice feels like the perfect counterpunch to whatever ills are going on. It does seem to help immediately with stimulating detox, which then helps my brain clarity (though not as much as coffee). Also, since I’m often dehydrated on bad days, it’s a welcome alternative to drinking water, which I consider a chore.
Tip: using a blender is much easier than using a juicer, both to make the juice and to clean, although there’s an ongoing debate about the benefits of pure juice without the fiber. Special tip: you can attach a mason jar to the bottom of many blenders, which makes the blender much easier to clean (hat tip to Meg!) If you can’t juice it yourself, try to find a local juicer (many Whole Foods do it) or if you live near a health food store, special order Just Greens by Columbia Gorge. It’s the only bottled organic vegetable-only juice I’ve found and it’s reasonably priced at around $4.
4) Be a vegetable
My biggest mental difficulty on bad days is accepting that I won’t get much done. Forcing a mindset change to just enjoy not doing anything alters the complexion of my day from red alert: you suck to more of a sepia: I exist, that’s cool. For the go-getters out there, this fix has a pseudo meditative effect. My brain goes from dangerous questions like “how the heck am I useful to society” to more “bzzzzz.” Not quite “OM,” Mr. Chopra, but a good buzz is halfway there.
5) Distract Yourself For Free
When the dangerous questions start going off in my brain, I resort to eye & ear candy. Netflix and Hulu are probably the most common sources I hear of from patients. If you don’t wanna spend $10 a month or more for mostly TV shows, there’s a wide selection of (legal!) free foreign streaming applications. Viki.com is a popular one: it streams all types of foreign dramas and movies, sub-titled by their own volunteer community.
Pandora and spotify are great for streaming free music. Angry? Metal! Emo? Indie. Calm but wired? Jazz~. Find the perfect balancer for your those jagged emotional and mental states. Good jazz never seems to hurt no matter where I’m at, but I also might be 60-something stuck in a 20-something body.
6) Be Your Bad Self
On bad days, I hardly recognize myself, and I’m sure that’s the case with many of you. We often blame these alter egos on chemical imbalances, but like it or not these imbalances are part of the current version of us. Be mindful of its needs. If you don’t wanna talk to anyone, let it be known to your friends & family instead of blowing up at them later. If you need to vent, find an outlet.
Remember: you can always delete what you said on facebook tomorrow if you’re wondering which orifice of your body your comment came out of. Yes, feeling better is worth losing 5 fake facebook friends.
7) Mind Your Brand…Mindlessly
Whatever your brand is (a product, a blog, an advocacy group, or just yourself), these are the days to build it by doing the mindless marketing work. Twitter is built for the short-brained days by limiting thoughts to 140 characters or less. Ask your friends to “like” whatever you’re offering or join your cause. Build your network on Linkedin by adding people with a click. Social media tools allow patients to make a dent so long as we can sit up and use a computer.
8) Don’t Be A Stranger!
If you’re like me, you often wait until your brain is jumpin to write people whose opinions of you matter (like that McHottie lyme patient) By the time your brain comes around, you have too many other things to do and now you’re 20 more emails behind. We have too few good hours as it is, so use the bad days to write people back! If they’re patients, they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness & attention to them more than perfect grammar & comedic timing. We understand your limitations, so don’t try to present the perfect you all the time. Caveat: do try to be presentable though. I can say with confidence that no one likes reading 4 run-on paragraphs in all caps which could’ve been summarized in 2 coherent lines.
My final thoughts on this: if you’re genuine and put real effort into what you write, your true self averages out. Example: if you’re a funny, intelligent person, that may not come through in any one email but given enough time, you’ll sound funny & intelligent!