What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I spent the morning searching for a pair of striped dog pajamas.
If I think hard, I can remember taking them off my son yesterday morning and dressing him in camoflage pants and a black T-shirt. But as for where they went after that, I couldn't tell you.
They're not sitting on the hamper, where I would normally put them. They're not in his hamper, or in his drawers, or in MY hamper, or piled where I removed them in the living room. They're nowhere that makes any kind of sense.
Did I throw them out in the garbage? Did I open a window and toss them outside? Where on Earth could I have possibly put his pajamas, and WHY would I have done it?
The striped dog pajamas are not an anomaly -- for all of my adult life, I've been extremely forgetful and inattentive to details. In the past, I've chalked it up to "writer's brain" -- my head is in my next story and I zone out on what's happening in the here and now.
But the older I get, the more extreme my absent-mindedness has become and I'm honestly starting to wonder if something is vaguely WRONG WITH MY BRAIN. I don't know what! A tumor? Adult ADHD? Early onset Alzheimer's? Maybe it's just stress?
Peruse my symptoms:
I frequently forget appointments, commitments, and deadlines.
I'm constantly having the icy stomach drop of realizing I missed an important appointment. I just realized I missed my last psychiatrist's appointment and have been too afraid to call and reschedule because it's probably the fifth time I just haven't showed up to see this particular doctor. A few weeks ago, I forgot the time of my therapy appointment and showed up ready to go an hour early. I waited patiently in the waiting room at the completely wrong time, despite the fact that I've been seeing the same doctor at the same time for 2 years.
I write my appointments down in my paper AND electronic calendars, set multiple alarms and reminders, and somehow I still manage to totally blank out and miss them on a pretty regular basis.
I have an extreme inability to handle my email.
As any of you who have ever written me one probably know. I find my inbox so overwhelming that I just shut down. I don't read emails, or if I read them I don't answer them. I want to, but I can't. I honestly think it borders on a phobia. Sometimes I lie awake at night panicking about my emails. I still think about emails from years ago that I never answered and how much that person probably hates me.
I manage to make up for my total disorganization by being a very, very hard worker. I'm passionate and focused on what's in front of me, but ignore everything except the most immediate and important tasks. Email, with its millions of tangents and side issues, is just too much for me.
I have a weak recall of recent events.
This doesn't seem to be a problem in the work sphere so much as in my personal life and relationships.
"I told you that!" the person will say to me but no matter how hard I try to remember there is a gaping void where that memory should be. It's happened enough times that I have to believe I really am forgetting entire conversations.
I used to be a blackout drinker of the "How did I get home last night?" variety, so I'm no stranger to the unsettling feeling of being unable to retrieve memories an experiences, but it's even more scary and frustrating when you're completely sober. And I have no idea how to work on something like this -- try as I might, I can't MAKE MYSELF remember better.
I have trouble correctly completing household tasks and responsibilities.
If I say "I'm sorry, I forgot" one more time, I'm gonna get divorced.
If I'm not forgetting, I'm completing something incorrectly or leaving it half-finished. I have written before about how I just can't "see" messes the same way my partner can -- I guess it's an obliviousness to details that keeps me from noticing the little stains and spills and messes that are so obvious to others.
I am not deliberately careless. I try to focus on household stuff the same way I'm able to focus on my work but I continually make little mistakes, which frustrate those around me and contribute to my low self-esteem.
"Why am I always screwing up?" I might think in the shrinking cringe right after I realize I've let the fridge door open or put the dirty dishes in with the clean ones instead of unloading the washer. The worst part is that there's nothing I can do -- I try to pay attention and avoid errors, but I never seem to make much progress. As a result, I'm always anxious, waiting to find out what I've done wrong this time.
Because I'm a high achiever at work, I've always assumed my inability to pay attention everywhere else and the millions of tiny errors it leads to were a result of some ingrained carelessness or just the lasting effects of a dysfunctional childhood or my years as a drug addict and alcoholic. But maybe I've succeeded in my career IN SPITE of these issues, through sheer will power. Maybe there's something going on that recovery and therapy and TRYING REALLY HARD just can't fix.
I didn't realize how much all this was affecting my life and relationships until I started writing this and now I'm near tears. Is this typical mom stress, or could there be something actually wrong with me? Is it telling that the one friend I mentioned this to did NOT tell me I was overreacting? In fact, he was like, "Yeah, you're the most absent-minded person I know, maybe you DO have a tumor."
Should I go to the doctor, and if so what do I say? "I forget stuff" seems less urgent than how it feels.