When your brain’s on strike

Do you ever get the impression that your brain’s gone on strike and forgotten to tell you?

Those awkward moments in the day when someone asks you a question and you just stare at them blankly because for some reason, your brain won’t form the answer that is hidden away somewhere. Or maybe you know the answer, but for some reason it comes out as gobbledegook when you open your mouth to speak.

There are various ways that our brains pack up when we need them the most.

Some people suffer from horrendous stage fright, so much so that they just can’t form any words. People who suffer from stutters, are especially prone to being unable to begin a sentence and in more severe cases, can’t get beyond a few fractured syllables. Then there are writers and artist, poets and playwrights, who just can’t get any words down on a page, or brush strokes on a canvas.

It’s like somebody flicked a switch and your brain ceases to function.

I suffer from writer’s block. I’ve been in this position for longer than I care to add up. I was on anti-depressants for twelve months, which allowed me greater clarity on my mental health, but at a price of severe writer’s block. It wasn’t that I didn’t have any idea, more that I couldn’t put any of my ideas down on paper. The moment I attempted to write, my brain got stuck and I became like a person who stutters, a word may slip through here or there, but ultimately, I could barely form full paragraphs.

I was relieved to come off the medication, hoped to return to a world of writing 1000 words in half an hour, whole pieces of fiction in just a couple of days. That was the world I’d previously inhabited, but that wasn’t a world I returned to.

The problem now isn’t that I can’t write, I’m doing pretty well at churning out blog posts.

It’s the ideas.

The inspiration.

It’s hard enough coming up with ideas of what to write in these blog posts. I don’t know where any of my ideas have come from, aside from a handful that I pulled from media articles. The bee all and end all is that when I attempt to brainstorm ideas, nothing comes.

I used to be able to sit around watching television, reading books, thinking and doodling and ideas would spring to mind. I’d be caught on the toilet, in the shower, having a drink or making toast and I’d be forced to note down my idea on any piece of paper I could find. Or my phone. Ideas came from anywhere and everywhere, they surprised me and I surprised them in equal measure and there was nothing I could do about them.

It’s easy to look back at how different my life was, before the anti-depressants, but all I see is two lives. The one I had and the one I have. They’re on different ends of the same scale. Constant output and ideas, versus no output and little hope of ideas. I don’t know if it’s my environment, changing it doesn’t seem to help. I’ve travelled the length of breadth of the UK and France, yet nothing has forced the inspiration back into my mind. But perhaps there is something to be said about the world I’m in at the moment. Maybe I’m not depressed anymore, but I have very little to live for (don’t worry, this isn’t me being suicidal, it’s just stating the cold, hard facts) and very little to be inspired about. In theory, that should inspire me more. The suffering, the loss, the lack of good things, it should be everything I need to push me into a world of fiction. It’s not.

Blocks are a difficult part of life. Everyone will face them at times. Whether you’re writing an essay for college, a report for work, or a piece of fiction for the hell of it, a block can hit you with full force and there’s not a lot you can do about it.

Sometimes your brain will shut off, it will bring up a metaphorical error message, or it will merely fail to function. There’s not a lot we can do when our brain decides it’s had enough. I wish there was. In the same way that there is medication to help a person feel happier, take away pain and cure illness and disease. If there was something that we could do to make our brains function that little bit more effectively, just pop a pill and everything would be alright.

Would you want it?

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One thought on “When your brain’s on strike

  1. Oh my goodness; yesterday, after a whole weekend of tying up boats using the name knot over and over I drew a complete mental blank and just couldn’t do it – how does that happen?! I did it 20 times this weekend, then suddenly sat there looking at the rope blankly, completely unable to remember the order in which I had to do things, bizarre!

    Sounds like you’re talking about something similar to the pills from Limitless, have you seen that movie? As long as it didn’t have the side effects I would definitely take one! Imagine learning French and the piano in 3 days…yes please!

    I do hope your writers block is cured soon, have my fingers firmly crossed.

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