“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.” ― Haruki Murakami
The human brain is the most fascinating, marvelous, intricate and yet most understood organ of the human body. There is so much that is known of the brain, however more has yet to be discovered. Reflect a moment on all of the things that our brains are capable of. Capable of memorizing numbers, painting a masterpiece, solving puzzles, building structures, the list goes on and on.
The human brain is capable of storing memories. Hundreds of thousands of memories throughout your lifetime. Memories that you can easily recall and memories that require perhaps a trigger in order to recall certain details or aspects. For instance, putting up a tent on a camping trip with your child and remembering an instance of your own childhood. Or perhaps, visiting a place from years past and recalling a particular person you stood there with that you haven’t thought of in years.
Yesterday, within the middle of my shift at work, a seizure made a brazen attempt to break though. My vision slipped away from me almost completely. I could see very little but was masked with blurred and double vision. Patches of pastel color and white spots. As I have before, I made attempts to will my brain to fight off the oncoming seizure activity. I grabbed a notepad and began to sketch what was before me. A stuffed animal penguin. I willed my brain to recall details of the penguin and sketch it identically on paper, detail for detail. This action, is one that I thought up on my own. Distraction. Distracting myself and my brain from what is happening in attempts to get my brain back on track. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work. In my attempts to regain control, the seizure was putting up a good fight to try and break through. As I continued to sketch the penguin and verbally encourage myself that everything would be okay, I began to smell and taste a distinct metallic sensation. The metallic sensation is a very common sensation that can precede a seizure. The metallic sensation then turned to what appeared to be that of burning wires. Simply terrible. I thought to myself in that moment, “Well, this is going to happen and I must prepare.” Note, there was no one around. No customers, no employees. Yes I was certainly worried but confident that I could find a way through this. As I prepared to take a seat on the floor to ensure that I would not fall and injure myself during what I was sure was going to develop into a grand mal seizure, my distorted vision suddenly turned into a fast-forward flash back of memories. Memories ranging from childhood to teenage years, to even most recent memories. Memories of faces, places, moments of joy, heartache, excitement and devastation. Memories so real, I swore I could reach out and grasp them. Embrace them.
But how? How could this be? How could it be possible? Can seizures dig up memories? This wasn’t the first occurrence of this happening but never had it felt so realistic until this day. Within the fast-forward flash back, I saw people I hadn’t thought of in years. I recalled childhood memories as if I were reliving it detail for detail. I felt the warmth of days from years long ago. I felt the heartbreak of relationships I never wanted to revisit again. What felt like a long drawn out span of time viewing these memories was in reality only about a minute or so. I felt tears welling up in my eyes. Not as a result of the potential seizure, but the memories that were being recalled. Thank God, when the flashback came to an end, the seizure never successfully broke through. No grand-mal seizure. I was going to be okay. The attempt left me with a searing migraine and a nauseous stomach.
Astonishing how our brains work. Incredible how electrical activity in the brain, could potentially awaken memories stored within our brains that we think we may have lost forever. Memories that we think were never there at all. How many experience this phenomenon? At first, I thought I was the only one. I thought perhaps, the things that I recalled simply could not be true. Indeed they were true memories from my lifetime. However, in speaking with a great friend of mine Angie, she revealed that her son experiences the same phenomenon!
I truly believe this is something that neurologists and scientists should have a deeper look into. Can the brain really do this? I know that it can. I experienced it first hand on more than one occasion. One new way revealing how intricate our brains truly are.