It’s never too late for the brain to heal. I recently learned this lesson, and it’s timely for Mental Health Awareness Month, and opportunities for growth and increasing our wellbeing are all around us. We simply need to know where to look. For me, this “looking” had the most literal of meanings. For mental health awareness month, I scheduled an appointment with a new eye doctor.
Never too Late?
For mental health awareness month, rather than seeing a therapist or other mental health professional, I treated myself to an eye appointment. Many people might wonder about this–until remembering that we aren’t separate parts but instead one complete whole. Mind and body aren’t fully separate. Sure, they have separate components, but all of those components make up the single whole that is you (and me — each and every human on the planet). To be mentally healthy, we need to tend to our whole selves.
My vision leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve worn glasses since I was a child, but my vision worsened after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2004 followed by two more concussions within a couple of years. Because I had never been able to find an eye doctor who specializes in TBI and vision, I assumed that I would just have to deal with lack of clarity, light sensitivity, becoming overstimulated easily, double vision, and more. When I realized that there is indeed such a thing as an eye doctor who knows about TBI’s impact on vision, I was encouraged…and then did nothing about it for several months.
I was interested in such an eye doctor, and I believed wholeheartedly that yes, brain injuries can negatively impact vision and that yes, while some damage may be permanent, there are things that can be done to lead to significant improvement. That’s what wellbeing is all about: making choices and taking action, small steps at at time, to make positive changes in life. I believe that this is possible for everyone. Yet I didn’t believe in it for myself in this very specific instance.
A Happy Lesson About the Brain: It Heals
Fourteen years is a long time, long enough to make any effects of a TBI permanent. After all, weren’t things “set” now so that improvement in my vision would be impossible? Happily, I was wrong (I’m not always happy when I’m wrong, but in this case, it works for me so I’ll own my error).
The brain possesses a quality known as neuroplasticity, which means that it can adapt, even more than a decade after a brain injury. It’s never too late for treatment and improvement. Many things can help the brain continue to improve.
Therefore, for Mental Health Awareness Month, I saw a new eye doctor in hopes that I would be able to improve some things about my vision that are bothersome. This is very much a component of mental health, as mental health
- isn’t passive
- means making choices
- involves taking action
- is a journey to enhance wellbeing
- is key to our quality lives
I’m glad that I decided to see an eye doctor who specializes in brain injury because I discovered that it’s not too late to improve my vision and functioning.
What are your mental health goals? What would increase the quality of your life? Whatever you envision for your mental health, know that it’s not too late. What will you do today to get started?