“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
In December 2016, the toxic water poisoning caused me to lose contact with parts of my brain.
It was Christmas time and as a family we had just had our annual get together. I had been so looking forward to the time where all my daughters and grandkids would be together in one place, which doesn’t happen often. It was such a sweet time but…
As the evening began I found that my ability to speak without saying the wrong word or even remember what I was saying, much less comprehend what others were saying, wasn’t happening. I knew something was really wrong! Instead of “ruining” the night and letting others know I wasn’t doing well I spent the evening playing with the toddler age grandchildren, which is always a joy but even this was a challenge for me.
When my husband, Todd, and I left the party I tried to explain my concerns to him and we prayed about it, which brought me peace but not much relief. We just figured it was another symptom showing up and would pass like other symptoms had come and gone over the previous month. It didn’t pass.
In the wee hours of the morning I woke screaming in terror. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t understand where I was or why. The right side of my head was heavy, filled with pain… empty like a dark void, all pictures, colors, imagination… gone. The part of my brain that was working swirled with fear. Even as I remembered who I was, the fear of losing my memories of my children, of Todd, our life that I loved, consumed me. To say that it was terrifying and confusing would be an understatement. The total loss lasted only minutes but the fear, loss of memories and inability to think normally lasted months and I am still healing today.
Philippians 4:4-8 is a portion of scripture that I had claimed as my life verses in 1985 and had prayed into many, many times. During this experience, verses 6-7 (quoted above) came back to me with renewed power. Thanksgiving became my focus.
The journey of thanking God for everything… moments when I would seek for lost memories, sentences I couldn’t complete, conversations that I couldn’t keep up with, pictures I couldn’t form in my mind… had begun with the remembrance of those verses. When the terror of forgetfulness would want to swamp me, I turned to thanksgiving and “counted it all joy” instead. At times, my thankfulness only came out of my trusting His promise to never leave me. Most of the time, I thanked Him for every little sign of healing, every memory that came back, every time I could find the right word to say. No matter what I thanked God for, peace and joy would follow. This thankfulness turned out to be my pathway to healing. I later learned from Neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, that thanksgiving builds new dendrites in your brain that replace darkened dead ones. So, when God said, “Give thanks in all things,” He knew He was giving us the way to healing even if He didn’t give us the science behind it.
I have been told that my brain trauma is like that of anyone who has had a brain injury, whether the cause is stroke, concussion, sickness or toxicity. The journey into learning about brain health is one that I am still on. Even though I feel like I have learned so much already I know there is so much more to learn. One thing that every person seeks who has struggled with an attack on the way they think is peace. The pathway to finding that peace is to give your concerns to God in prayer followed by thanksgiving and He promises to “guard” your mind with peace.
If you have ever had a trauma to your brain it can cause minor to major changes to your life. Even though you may never have experienced a physical trauma to your brain I have discovered that toxic thinking can also cause damage to your brain. As you join me in the journey to growing healthy in mind and body I hope you find solutions for your own journey. I am not a doctor and don’t attempt to be, I am a lover of God and passionately determined to be all He said I can be and that includes being of a sound mind and healthy body.
The first step to brain health is simple… be thankful in all things! Choose to be thankful no matter how difficult your situation may be and peace and joy will follow, God promised.