How to Be in Control

by Jessica Brookman in

FACT: The only thing you'll ever be able to control is your own mind. Better get on that...

I was kneeling on a brick sidewalk. I was covered in tea.

"Open your eyes. Stand up."

Nope. Not happening.

"This is taking. for. ever."

My vision flickered on and I caught a snapshot of onlookers. I felt energy move through my core like I was inside of a wave. My body listed downward, onto the ground. 

"Wait -- what's taking forev...oh."

Then-i-was-gone-and-oh-it-is-just-my-brain-having-a-seizure-oh-it-is-almost-over-oh-it-will-be-fine-oh-just-relax-oh-it-is-much-better-out-here-now-right-now. oh!

Then it was over; i was back on the sidewalk. This is a story about being in control. 

When I woke up that day, my thoughts were so cloudy that I couldn't make a single decision. More generally, the preceding weeks had contained a few things that broke poorly for me. I was very preoccupied with some life problems. It was vicious and I was temporarily at a loss. So I decided to do nothing for the morning. I went to the park to meditate.

Walking home, I collapsed to the sidewalk.

I've been having seizures and migraines since I was seven. By the time I decided to go to medical school, I had almost two decades of experience making sense of the human brain progressively and by whatever means were available to me at the time.   

I mention this because I do not want to advocate a particular model for cognition and the mind to understand this experience. There are many and I don't wish to be limited or defined by any single understanding of the (my) mind. 

But after you've appeared to have peed yourself and/or overdosed in public a few times, it focuses your understanding of what's important. Being out of your body is -- literally and for lack of a better phrase -- a perspective shift. 

So for all of you poor souls who have to go through life without the benefit of the divergent perspective provided by spontaneous brain defragmentation or LSD, here's a high-level, seizure-free guide to mental clarity: 


Independent Identity.

Express your priorities in thought and action.

Let go of the rest. 

Obviously it's not as simple as a sentence. And it's natural to struggle occasionally. I'll write more about the individual parts of this statement as separate posts over the next month. I struggle with each of them from time to time so I'll be unusually honest wherever I can. 

Sound good? Good.