I had my first mid-life trifluckta this week –three pretty Big Deal screw ups in the same day.
First, a very nice young police officer pointed out to me that my tags had expired – two months ago.
Then, I missed a gathering at Boy C’s school that included every major official on staff there.
THEN, while I was happily making dinner for my husband’s Boy C, my girlfriend called to let me know she was on the way to OUR dinner appointment – the one we had to reschedule from last week after I forgot her then, too.
If it had been just one “goof up,” I’m sure I would have laughed it off with a cute little “oops” and an “Oh well, to know me is to love me.”
(By the way, as I was writing the word “oh” just now, I had to pause and search my memory banks for the correct spelling!)
Do you see what I mean?
I’m LOSING IT.
One of the ironies of mid-life is that, just as you start getting it all together, it all starts falling apart.
Truly, truly. One of the markers of midlife is that you have a medical specialist for every orifice on your body. Apparently, it takes a village to raise a crone.
I first started to notice foggy brain shortly after I became a mother. I remember that everyone said it would pass.
Well, that kid is in college now, and, looking back, I can’t say that I see a time between then and now when I could safely rely on my beautiful brain the way I could when I was in college.
So, I’ve developed coping skills, mnemonic systems, and cerebral work-arounds.
You think I’m joking? Here’s one that has been in play for at least 11 years:
When people ask me my kids names, I explain that I made it easy to remember them by using an acronym so that I don’t forget who they are.
CAL – Clark, Avery, and Logan.
If we get pregnant again (ha!), I have to have a “Frank” or a “Francesca” so then the kids become “CALF”.
I had endearing little bon mots that I would drop when I forgot to remember not to forget stuff. Here’s one: “Before the children I was really, really smart. NOW, I’m just really, really charming.”
Everyone would giggle and that would be that.
Plus, there was a spiritual bonus to all this screwing up — my foggy brain was teaching me humility.
But after the trifluckta this week, I started doing a bit of reading. And, apparently, I’m not imagining it.
Mid-life “foggy brain” is a real and actual thing.
Apparently, according to medical research, I started “losing it” in my twenties – that’s when your brain starts to eat itself. (That’s my poetic license applied to medical research, but you can read the actual report here.)
Fortunately, it’s a slow demise, so that you don’t notice it until much later. For me, it was this week.
What to do?
Well, it seems it always comes down to the basics – diet, exercise and sleep.
And a couple of extras:
Stop multitasking. Remember when multitasking was an Olympic sport for new mothers on the playground? Well, who knew but apparently your brain is not organically designed to work that way. Over time, it leads to diminished frontal lobe performance. So, do one thing at a time.
Watch the Distractions. As you age, your ability to filter out extraneous noise diminishes. Right now, for example, as I’m writing you from my “spot” at the coffee shop, I’m acutely aware of (and annoyed by)
- the woman who is ALWAYS clearing her throat;
- we’ve got some Big Shot presiding over a legal strategy session via his cell phone,
- and we have two kids trying to kill themselves by climbing on the furniture while their mother with the crappy-ass parenting skills pretends like it’s not happening.
It wasn’t all that long ago, that that stuff would have faded into the background if I was working on a project.
Deal with the Stress. When you’re under prolonged stress, your hippocampus underperforms. Why does that matter? Check out hippocampus info here:
The treatment? Exercise, mediation, creating joy. (Isn’t it cool? Joy is becoming a medical treatment.)
Anyway, I’m new at this, so I could sure use your input.
The other day, I asked our Wisdom Circle members (via our Facebook and Twitter communities) to weigh in on how they deal with mid-life foggy brain.
After you check out their thoughts, I hope you’ll add yours in the comments that follow.
@SharonBarberLLC Chewing gum and tennis shoes
@DMWalsh Mine pop up during stress.
@HelzDesign thought we over came after kids are grown up, wasn.t it a lack of sleep? otherwise … there is a fog around my head
@ChangeExplained Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation, time out for yourself, healthy well balanced diet, exercise and fresh air
Love and Blessings, Jennifer
Photo: Flickr, KellBailey