Monday, December 12, 2011

Wait, what?

A co-worker recently reminded me about a box that I'd received and put in a specific location.  I had no (zero, nil, zip, nada) recollection of any box, or activity around a box.  But my handwriting was on the box, meaning that at some point it was in my possession, or at the very least, in my stream of consciousness.

Disconcerting!


Several years ago, during a heavy cycle of grief, I had almost constant memory lapses.  From what I understand it's pretty common, as one weathers the physical, emotional, and mental shock of loss.  


The thing is, you can't really let it get to you; it's really the brain's way of helping you through the crappy stuff.  Even my tendency to be a perfectionist was waylaid by my utter inability to give a rip about whether or not I did something or forgot to do something.  (And by perfectionist I mean rabid OCD, but that's just between you 'n me.)


I found that the disconnect is typically harmless...my personal go-to behavior was to buy books.  The same books.  Over and over and over again.  I'd find duplicate, triplicate, quadruplicate copies of the same book in my house, often in the same bag from the same store (they made great gifts!).


I've known people with grief brain who put things in the wrong place or forgot to do things they'd been doing daily for dozens of years.  Completely understandable, but also why it's more like a fugue state then simple memory loss.  Your brain isn't even remotely involved in the present here and now; it's like someone else is operating the controls, and you may or may not be watching them while they do it.


Which is why at this point in my life where I'm not grieving - where I'm actually happy and relatively well-adjusted - it's so confusing to me that it seems to be happening to me again.  Oh, there are a variety of minor stressful things I'm working through right now, but in this case, I think it's more a matter of NOT being completely stressed out.  Like the lack of stress *is* the stress.  


Now how messed up is that?


Having changed jobs my overall stress level is so reduced that I'm finding it a little hard to gear down from the years of ramp up.  Which makes sense, since chemically your brain/body doesn't distinguish between distress and eustress.  From this, one could assume that a change in either type of stimulation can have an effect on behavior.  


I know that there's a certain amount of learned behavior when it comes to coping with stress, and if I recall my 20-years-ago Psych class, there are bio-chemical markers that are actually patterned in the brain when those learnings take place.   It would make sense that the process of changing those behaviors or un-learning specific coping mechanisms would also change the bio-chemical markers.  Or at the very least disrupt them.


All this because I keep forgetting stuff.  Is it any wonder, with all that random "stuff" in my head?  


For my next trick, I'm planning on going off caffeine.  I expect my brain will completely melt, while at the same time analyzing it to death.



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