Monday, August 4, 2014

What now?

My brain is still more disorganized than it was before Dave died. I marvel in an almost morbid way, at the dementia-like symptoms I still exhibit. They'd be funny if they weren't so embarrassing and worrisome. I wish I could laugh them off but I feel shame about them. I feel like there's something wrong with me. I feel like I'm in a state of mild to moderate disorientation WAY too often.

I was talking with my guy the other day about a friend of his, Charlie, who was coming to town and how we'd go out to dinner with him when he was here. In the pause between that conversation and the next, I looked at my calendar to confirm that evening was free and saw "Charlie" in my calendar as an appointment for that day. "Who's Charlie?" I said "And why is his/her name in my calendar?" In a matter of seconds, I'd forgotten what we were just talking about.

Poor guy must've thought he was losing his mind too, hearing me say that. Turns out I had added his name to my calendar when we first discussed this dinner a week or two ago and forgot about it. Then, I was actually able to not make the ends meet up in my mind RIGHT after discussing it again. It was like a completely clean slate.

How frightening. A good friend of mine said that in the year or so after his wife died, he told his therapist he thought he might have brain damage to which his therapist responded that it was completely normal.

It is a form of damage to the brain. Trauma is. It's what happens when our brains try to comprehend that which simply doesn't make a bit of sense. We have to make sense of something we can never make sense of.

Maybe my symptoms are more about low blood sugar, a ditzy brain in general, lack of sleep, or too much on my mind (I am an introvert after all), but I suspect I still have some damage from the trauma. There's still a part of my mind trying to make sense of something when I'll never be able to.

After experiencing too many deaths of my most important people, I've had enough trauma to the brain to warrant some episodes, but they don't cease to worry me.

I feel I can't trust my mind. I've taken to writing most things down, but I forget to write them down sometimes. So I forget to write down what I'm afraid I'll forget. Awesome.

I've considered just writing a daily record of where I went and what I did with accompanying reminders and to-dos so I can go back to it to find the threads and tie them up, but that hasn't happened yet. I'm too scattered and not disciplined enough.

I'm prepared for the fact that my brain might never be the same, but I hope I find some relief in the years to come. For now, it's a chance for me to work on accepting myself with all my flaws and allowing myself room to be forgetful and confused without feeling unworthy or shameful.

I'm intelligent AND forgetful. I'm bright and disorganized. I'm capable and I fuck up. It's not either or.
And anyway, I provide some entertainment for those who get to witness my "moments".

People who spend time with me get to learn to be patient with people with memory problems. You're welcome.


  1. Hello, being a widow has PTSD.. With W in books clarify things such as disease or disorder... Wow..guess we fall n disorder?? That's what it did.... To our lives..

  2. The facilitator of my grief group used to tell us that grief is a cognitive disorder. It must be true because we all had symptoms!

  3. In the past, I had stressful jobs where I had to multitask all day. After my husband's sudden death beside me in the middle of the night, I found myself questioning my thought processes. Cassie, like you, I don't remember things. I passed the three-year anniversary of my husband's death, and I still find myself forgetting things. This unrelenting grief and pain cling to me. The feeling of being so alone in this hell is terrifying. The other half of me is gone and I'm left to navigate this life alone. I'm alone in the dark and so lost without the other half of me.

  4. You made me laugh, in empathy, as I too am experiencing “not quite my normal brain functioning”. In Joan Didion’s book entitled “The Year of Magical Thinking” she states that she had inadvertently given the hospital an old address from years earlier where she no longer lived instead of her current address at which she had been living for 16 years. She says, “A doctor to whom I mentioned this shrugged, as if I had told him a familiar story. Either he said that such “cognitive deficits” could be associated with stress or he said that such cognitive deficits could be associated with grief. It was a mark of those cognitive deficits that within seconds after he said it I had no idea which he had said.”

  5. I called it a traumatic emotional brain injury - after my son died by suicide. It was totally confused and discombobulated for so long. I don't know if I will ever regain everything I lost but I have made good progress.

  6. It'll be 3 years the 30th for me, and yeah, I have short term memory issues. I was dx'd with PTSD 19 years before my Husband's death, and it is way worse now. Ironically, before he was dx'd with Cancer, I was mostly over my PTSD symptoms, now, I have no real desire to "recover".

  7. Six years ago today...I said my final goodbye at the gravesite of my husband, John. Of course, a part of me went with him ... and a part of the me I hardly knew anymore, stayed behind... The thing that gets me by each and ever moment of each day is "Trusting God"... He loves us and knows even more than we do about our hearts and hurts and hopes. We will be together again in a much more wonderful and glorious setting than this. But, we must continue to believe... and Trust. There is much that we do not know... like children... we can trust and learn and love and anticipate. I love each of you.... we are together.

    1. Hello, just read this. U an I were going thru our Loss almost same will b 6 yrs for me on 23., but today marks my 40th engagement anniversary.., oh how life changed... Like u said we hv our Faith.. And each widow to remind us we r not in this life alone without understanding.. God bless u.

  8. Thanks for this.

    I have a lot of memory problems; the biggest issue is losing track of things. Somehow I managed to lose a large green binder in the house; have never found it so far, so maybe it got thrown out, but I really need some info from it.

    It's those kinds of things that really scare me ... seems a slippery slope to full-blown dementia sometimes. I know it's really not that, but it feels like I am totally non-functional sometimes.