I have been noticing the neuroplasticity of my brain. For 8 years I wore progressively stronger over-the-counter (non prescription) reading glasses. Two years ago I began working out at the gym more intentionally and intensively. At the same time I also began eating more nutritionally. About 2 weeks after I started my new routine, I went to read and my glasses were not handy and I noticed I didn’t need them. I was quite taken aback but also delighted. I have not worn glasses since then. Suddenly my eyes were fine – apparently a neuroplastic or optical shift had occurred. I was very pleased and actually found this fairly remarkable.
Suddenly, however, 3 months ago I had great difficultly seeing distances while driving. One day my vision became so bad that I no longer felt safe driving during the day. I could not read street sign – distant objects were very blurry. I was very frightened. That day – which happened to be a Saturday – only hours before a large party I was hosting – I came close to going to urgent care because I didn’t understand what was going on. I was losing my vision. Nothing like this had ever happened to me. Was I having a stroke in my eye as one party guest mentioned as a possibility! On the recommendation of some party guests I called an eye doctor during the party and managed to get an appointment for that Monday – 2 days away. It was discovered that I had a cataract in one eye and within 2 weeks it was corrected surgically with a permanent lens implant. I followed the prescribed regimen of eye drops and eye exercises and was healing well for 2 months. The eye doctor said it may take 1 year after surgery to train the eyes to work well together but I could go back to doing everything I did before surgery. I would see her in one year.
Then I departed on a 1000 miles car trip by my self. I was a little concerned about my vision but really not worried since all had been going well and driving locally had not been a problem. My distance vision was good – not perfect – a little blurry but very manageable and slowly improving.
Within minutes after starting my 1000 mile drive home I began seeing 2 different images. One was the straight road and cars in front of me and one equally visible image was the road veering off at a 45 degree angle to the left. I knew the road and cars on the left was an incorrect ‘vision’. I covered my left eye while driving and saw only the road straight ahead. I was frightened once again and told myself there was NO way I could drive 1000 miles seeing these two images. I told my brain and my mind that this was NOT going to happen. I covered my left eye for about 20 -30 seconds and uncovered it and did this repeatedly for maybe 15 minutes untill the illusion stopped. I trained my brain and my mind to cooperate and to see one image- the correct image or reality in front of me. It seems that I quickly trained my brain and mind to cooperate and function well together so I could journey onward.
It made me realize the power of neuroplasticity and the power we hold within us, the power to learn new things, to re-train the brain, the eye, the person to see reality – in this case. It opened my mind up to the possibilities. If my brain listened to me – obeyed my commands – to STOP seeing that other vision or image what else could I do with my new found power of persuasion?
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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.