I haven’t posted in a week largely due to the fact that I’ve been moving house and starting school. That said, I will still be posting, just not every one to two days. I’ll post once or twice a week.
I know that when life gets busy some people begin to feel this inner tension. They start to wonder “can I afford to do X or not?” Honestly, answering that question is really up to the person and activity. With “personal reading” (reading that I don’t do for school), however, I’ve determined that I can’t afford NOT to read. Sometimes my eyes need a break though so I listen to more audiobooks during the school-year.
If I need to think before I speak, then I believe I ought to read/listen before I think.
The most recent book I’ve read has been Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan and I almost (read as: basically) had an existential tailspin halfway through the book.
In one of my earlier posts I mentioned my interest in Stoicism. Stoics believe that the only thing a person has full control over is their reasoned choice. This perspective sounds all logical, well, and good….. except Cahalan’s experience battling anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a rare auto-immune disease that presents symptoms close to schizophrenia and manic depression, demonstrates that the Stoics have made a huge assumption. They’ve assumed that the mind can be(come) this inviolable sanctum santorum that we are capable of developing to almost near complete control over if we try hard enough.
I’m not arguing that people shouldn’t aspire to have/exercise greater control over their minds. In fact. I find Stoicism pretty appealing. The problem is that the mind is so closely linked to the health of our physical body, which we don’t have/cannot develop full control over, that it begs the question of whether or not Stoicism is as attainable as the Stoics have presented it to be.
Cahalan’s story vividly domonstrates just how fragile and untenable the body and mind connection is and I was truly frightened reading Cahalan’s descent into madness. Her words begin to escape her. Her mind begins to escape her. I’m not a journalist, but as someone who also reveres words, I was horrified by the thought of such a sudden and significant loss.
So now, after finishing this book, I’d like to openly say: Dear internet folks, I am so grateful to be writing this blog post right now. I’ve truly taken the ability to form words, mold sentences, and share thoughts for granted.
If Cahalan’s story sounds interesting, check out her book. You can also watch her interviews. Other books/movies that I’ve read and watched in a similar vein have been the book Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness by Harriet A. Washington and the movie Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die.