Dumb Like Me


Reposted from Quora:

What does it feel like to be stupid?

I recently found out I had Bradycardia for a year. Oximetry indicated frequent hypoxia. My heart paused for 5, 6 then 7 seconds during one short window.  My brain was starved for oxygen for a year and every day I was exhausted by these ‘near death’ experiences while I slept.

Once doctors put a pacemaker in, I noticed a profound improvement. So did my family. I am myself again. :)

Becoming dumb was like forgetting your lines as an actor. Lines you’ve worked like hell to remember and then stumble over on stage, in front of a live audience. The words don’t come.

Being dumb came with a shocking loss of privilege. This was humbling. Smart people, like the very attractive, get special treatment they do not know they are getting. A slower mind and the normal treatment that comes with it makes the world look cruel, unfair and cold.

It was a shocking blow, a loss of identity. I was the guy that came up with the answers. Not anymore.

It was most frustrating to be tricked, manipulated and used. I could sense what was happening but could not sidestep the tricks. I could see myself being manipulated but was helpless to defend myself as my intellect became overwhelmed.

Worst of all was feeling like people thought I was some kind of fraud, in that I could no longer reproduce or even accurately describe feats from the past. To be challenged in your accomplishments adds insults to injury as you struggle with your limitations.

There was some upside. I learned to cry freely. I can now openly weep at an emotional part of a film and feel it more than I would have before. I learned to control my temper. I learned patience. And I learned what remains if you take away all that makes me unique and special - and I learned to be okay with that person. I’d rather be smart, but I can always find something to do, enjoy my family and spend my spare time painting.

I decided to focus more on writing and teaching than doing, which I found to be easier than the applied work I was doing before. Now that I can finish it, I got a book out of it.