This has been a busy week for me. That’s in very much in a relative sense rather than an absolute sense; I doubt anyone else looking at my calendar would use the term “busy” to describe it. But mashed potato brains like to get in the way.
I’ve always found the cognitive symptoms of depression to be among the most disruptive to my overall functioning. When I’m really unwell, it feels like I can’t think my way out of a paper bag. I tend to describe the effect on my thinking as “mashed potato brains”; it seems like a fairly apt analogy. Sometimes they’re soupier than others. My current depressive episode has stretched over the last year and a half, and the cognitive symptoms have ebbed and flowed over that time. When my thinking starts to get clearer, I can feel a bit of hope, but then a week like this one comes along.
It wouldn’t bother me as much if there was something stressful that triggered the decompensation (I use this psychiatry term because it’s the only one that comes to mind). That might seem logical. But no, I don’t have that excuse. I have just asked my brain to do a little bit of outside-the-routine thinking, and I get totally overwhelmed. Hello mashed potato brains. When I went on Pixabay to look for an image for this post, I couldn’t even remember how to spell potatoes (although I did realize that potatos looked a bit funny).
Sometimes when it’s not so thick and goopy in my head, butterfly brain is a good analogy; my brain can move, but it can’t maintain attention enough to stay anywhere. Except I’m not as graceful as a butterfly. I’m more like a moth, careening drunkenly around with no apparent destination in mind. Bouncing off one wall, hitting the ceiling, smacking over against the window, where I settle down for a minute before the stumbly mental dance begins again.
The frequent task switching ends up using far more mental energy than if I were able to focus for a little longer. However, if something pops into my mind I know that if I don’t attend to it right away it will be gone.
Reading tends to be worse in terms of concentration than writing, although I’m feeling pretty uninspired to write. I mostly skim rather than read word for word. Or I read without understanding and then wonder what the point of that was.
Just before I started writing this post, I was looking through my WordPress Reader feed, and I saw the post Losing My Mind on Travis and the Brain. I felt relieved – relieved that I’m not the only one losing my mind, and relieved that even if we’re drowning we can help pull each other out of the water.