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Medication Side Effect: Slowed Down Thinking September 29, 2009

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in mental illness.

From the time each of us is born, we go about the world with the impression that the way we think, the speed that we think, and the number of things that we think about in a given space of time, are all normal and generic and fixed.

I always thought of many different things in rapidly successive order, and most times, I thought of more than one thing at a time.  I know that’s hard to fathom, but it’s true. I could hold about 4 thoughts simultaneously.  I pushed through so much material so quickly that I would routinely analyze a whole bunch of data and boil it down to its essence in a very short amount of time.   I didn’t consciously consider that fast thinking was a requisite to performing my job, but in retrospect this was indeed the reason for my success at my profession.

When I got out of the mental hospital and my husband drove me to visit my new psychiatrist for the very first time, my psychiatrist warned me to expect “cognitive disorder” as a side effect of my new medications. I didn’t understand what he was talking about. I had no frame of reference for what that might mean.

I am the very rare person (fortunately) who is put into the position of immediately seeing the speed of my thought processing dramatically slowed down almost overnight.  The speed of my thoughts went from “normal” to “slow”, processing information at half the speed I used to within weeks of taking my medication.  With that slower thinking speed came a severe case of identity crisis.  I had no idea up until that point how much of my identity was wrapped up in the speed of my thoughts.  My identity crisis was enormous.  Who am I if I don’t think as fast as I used to? After all, we are who we think.  Literally as well as figuratively.

I’m still coming to terms with this identity crisis, remaking my identity with the help of my counselor and psychiatrist.  It’s been about 16 months since I was hospitalized, and I keep waiting for my thinking to speed up.  I hoped that once my body adjusted to the medications, my thought process would speed up.  But this has not been the case.  I’m reconciling myself to living with the slower thinking, and as I get further away from the point of change, the memory of how much faster I used to think is slightly dimming.



1. Jean - October 4, 2009

So true! Well-said (written). You’re still brilliant, by the way.

2. Crazy Mermaid - October 4, 2009

You’re too kind!

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