My heart goes out to you. Our stories are very, very similar. What I can report from farther along the road is that, while my brain is very different than it was before Graves, I have learned how to use my now-different brain in ways that accomplish what I want to accomplish. If anything, being incapable of the kind of detailed, highly-systemized organization I used to produce so easily, my thinking has become more insightful and creative. It's not the brain I had before, but it's still powerful and can do anything I ask it to.
It needs more sleep than it did. It demands better nutrition than it did. It simply refuses to produce if I haven't been taking care of myself. However, that is certainly partly due to the fact that I'm 13 years older than I was when I came down with Graves!
It gets better. It gets easier, as my friend says, “little by slowly.”
Some concrete things I did to restore my mental powers:
- Gave up TV. Entirely. Got rid of the damn thing.
- Bought a book of NY Times hardest crossword puzzles and worked on it every night.
- Read, read, read, the most interesting books I could find.
- Studied algebra, probability, and logic, using GRE practice material.
- Researched everything I could find on Graves, including material in my local University's medical library. This required looking up a lot of Latin and Greek roots of words, and looking up “beginner” explanations of some medical terms.
- Took notice of how I solved problems in new ways and worked to get good at those new problem-solving skills and use them.
And, (drum roll, please…) if you play a musical instrument — Play it as much as you possibly can!!! If you don't, consider learning one.
It gets better. It gets easier. If you do a little each day, and if you miss a day, forgive yourself immediately and do some more the next day, you find results that will amaze you before you are half-way done.
I wish you hope and lots of stick-to-it-ness. You CAN beat this. You will find strengths and “intelligences” that you didn't even know you had.