I will howl all night in the reeds…

Nourishment seemed to be accompanied by strange spikes and firestorms of undirected emotion. My re-activated synapses were flexing and stretching as they came back to life. When I was first here, I often woke to confused emotions raging in my breast. It wasn’t the normal Matutolypea we all experience; My brain seemed to be venting excess feeling. I’d lie in bed flaring baseless anguish and despair. It would leave me shaking and agitated.

Then I went through a stage of getting strange little stabs of emotion during the day. They seemed like bursts of gleeful energy, compelling me to do something to break free of Ascot House. Worryingly, they manifested themselves, largely, as a desire to happily end myself: not kill myself, just somehow log off…

According to the therapy team, when you are denying yourself food, your brain reduces the amount of neuro-transmitters it produces. These are the chemicals released by a synapse when an electrical impulse travels along a nerve. They are picked up by the next synapse, which triggers the next electrical impulse. Without enough food, the brain offers a reduced, skeleton service of essential functions, so your emotional systems are starved off and dampened down. This is why you become so lacking in empathy or mental flexibility.

There is a theory that the starving brain becomes particularly sensitive to the release of what few neuro-transmitters are available, to eke it out the reward delivered by serotonin, the chemical that’s also associated with happiness or satisfaction. You become more reactive to the data you are still able to process through the neural pathways you’re still using: you become a sensitive little sod, in other words.

We overthink everything, and see too many implications from the smallest phenomena. We startle and take offense easily. Because our brains lack sophisticated metaphysical functions, these thoughts and feelings lack depth, profundity or impact. We exhibit a blend of quiet, sanguine misery and self-blame, along with a determined resilience. We nurse and remember our wounds but without self-pity, because we are incapable of pity. We suspect we are disliked and despised, but our paranoia doesn’t bother us much.

As you recover, though, you are once again flooded with neuro-transmitting compounds and your emotional systems begin to function once more. You are no longer numb, but are just as sensitive and much more volatile. Your hyper-sensitive, re-nourished synapses fire random emotions across your brain. As Jamie, one of our therapists, put it, “you’re hit by a tidal wave of emotion”. It’s like being a teenager all over again.

We are rude, intolerant and unsympathetic yet, simultaneously, we are immensely over-sensitive and vulnerable. Imagine living in a house with 9 other such emotional monsters, unable to leave the building, having to share a room with one of them!It is greatly to our credit that the situation doesn’t descend into a dreadful, murderous bloodbath.

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