Monday, 9 June 2008

Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most

Although I remember very little these days, one thing I do recall is the bizarre collapse of my brain when I was pregnant. I spent months of my life doing unnervingly dim things, like throwing dirty socks in the bin and carefully depositing rubbish in the laundry basket.

I was assured, at the time, that this happens to many pregnant women, and that my sanity would return in due course. Although I have good reason to doubt the absolute accuracy of this, it is true that eventually I was no longer finding myself in the car and wondering where I’d come from and where I was going (and not existentially, either – in a very literal way).

Then, I could blame my mental incontinence on hormones. But now?

I turn 44 this year, which seems to me to be a little young to be experiencing fairly substantial memory loss and/or random acts of stupidity. It’s worse when I’m stressed, as I have been for the last couple of weeks. The longer my to-do list, apparently, the shorter my memory.

Although I’m constantly driving my family crazy by forgetting small things (mainly where I put my car keys), I’ve become adept at keeping lists of the bigger chores in my diary, which works well when I can remember where I left the damned thing. I check the list every few hours, to ensure I haven’t missed an appointment, left children stranded at school or forgotten to feed the neighbours’ cats.

Yet small and disturbing things happen continually, reminding me that all is not well in my head. On Saturday night, for instance, I fed the dog and my family. Or at least I thought I had.

At about 8 o’clock, with the dog behaving in a very annoying way – whining at me, getting under my feet, etc – I threatened it with expulsion from the household if it didn’t pull itself together.

‘She’s probably hungry,’ my daughter said.

‘No, she’s not. I fed her a few hours ago,’ I said.

‘No, you didn’t,’ said my daughter, then pointed to the dog’s food bowl, which was sitting, full but undelivered to the dog, on the kitchen counter. (So now I have an added chore on my to-do list: ‘Feed dog. ACTUALLY GIVE DOG FOOD.’)

After dinner, when we were clearing up, my daughter asked me why I hadn’t put the gem squash on the table.

‘Which gem squash?’ I asked.

‘This gem squash,’ she said, pointing to the cooked and strained veggies – sitting untouched on the draining board. (New to-do list chore: ‘Feed family. ACTUALLY GIVE FAMILY FOOD.’)

The diary I have at the moment is a normal half-size one, but it’s quickly getting to the stage where I’m going to have to get one of those gigantic ones, in order to fit in my daily to-do list:
1. Wake up.
2. Get out of bed.
3. Brush teeth.
4. Shower.
5. Change into day clothes.
6. Make coffee. ACTUALLY DRINK COFFEE.
etc.

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3 comments:

Juno said...

Mur, thank goodness most of your mind is still on Salmagundi. You might have lost your keys, but you haven't lost your talent for writing stuff that just cracks me up.

meggie said...

Loved this post, & can so relate!
Poor dog! Kids are old enough to fend for themselves aren't they?

keryn said...

I can deal with a lot of things about growing older; the wrinkles, the change in body shape, but I can't deal with losing the mind I once had. It worked very well for me these many years, and now...? I never expected to get dumber as I got older, and I'm finding that hard to accept. I'm just hoping I don't end up completely cretinous in ten years time.

What I really hate is people who never knew me in my prime think I've always been this ditsy and scattered.

Yours seems definitely stress related. But how does one get rid of the stress?