The Dissociation of My Mind from My Body
The other day I was responding to comments on my own MS blog and someone asked me (basically) if I felt like my “mind and body are separate entities” which is such a great question because I have felt like they are for a really long time but I have never figured out how to properly communicate that. So I have been working on this all week trying to think of ways to put this idea into words that would make sense because I have tried in the past but never really been happy with what I have come up with. So I am going to give it another go but first let me answer that question in the simplest of terms; yes, I do feel like my body and mind are two separate entities.
I have multiple sclerosis, just stating the obvious, but when I say “I” have MS what do I mean? I mean my body has MS, even my mind since I am plagued by the many different cognitive impairments MS can bring about. But there is still part of me that does not have MS, or, at least it does not always feel like it does. I guess we can just refer to this as my subconscious. See I understand why my legs or my fingers do not work the way they used to, down to the specific nerves and areas in the brain, in fact, I can often pull up my MRI and point to a lesion and tell you what symptom it is causing; I am one of those people. But every once in a while, despite fully understanding the mechanisms of my disease, a part of my mind that is buried deep down in my brain, behind my own voice in my head that pieces thoughts together, I wonder, “what the hell is going on? How did I get to this point?”
I feel like that voice behind my voice is the “pure essence” of who I am. I sometimes think of it like this character in the movie “the Men in Black” who was a tiny alien inside what looked like a normal human being’s head but that normal looking body was actually just a machine that this tiny alien inside the head was controlling. My body is just a complex machine, a vessel, that my “essence” is controlling. Sometimes this machine breaks down and does not function right but even when all the gauges inside the cockpit that is my brain are spinning out of control I have to use this vessel, this “fixer-upper” of a body, to get me around the world.
So there is a disconnect, a disassociation between “me” and my body. It’s not always there but when it is it is very frustrating. Here is an example I know everyone can relate to; trying to do something you can no longer physically do. I know how to play the piano, I know how to play the guitar, how to ride a motorcycle and how to run. I know how, the very detailed steps are still in my brain but my body cannot follow them. In computer terms it would be like having all the software or coding to make a CD/DVD player work but not having the hardware this code is meant for; the hardware has been ripped out even though the instructions on how to use it are still there. The instructions are basically useless now and serve only as a memory of what my body could once do but can no longer even attempt. Trying to do something I can no longer do is often what leads to the “How did I get to this point?” train of thought.
So again, yes, sometimes I do feel like my body and mind are two separate entities. Maybe I am not fully at peace with my MS even though I feel I am? Either way, this feeling of frustration is often what I use to motivate myself to get better. I have said in the past that my biggest source of motivation is my own stubbornness and when the “me” deep down inside my brain says, “I want to do this” and my body says, “you can’t do that anymore” I can’t help but want to prove it wrong because that is just who “I” am.
Does your employer provide workplace accommodations due to your MS?