Every so often, I will have a patient who is genuinely concerned that they’re losing their mind. They’ll describe that: Lately, when I go to a room to get something, I get there and I forgot what it was I was going to get!
Or, I’ll go to the store, and I’ll walk out without the one thing I went to buy!
Or, I’ll forget appointments/ mix up dates/ forget a coworker’s name/ forget how to get to a friend’s house when I was only there a few months ago!
Rarely, I’ll have a patient who I am concerned about. And they never are the ones to bring it up. As a rule, in my practice to date, NO ONE who is concerned about losing their mind has had any problem apart from sleep deprivation, overscheduling, and/ or stress; and NO ONE who is actually losing their mind realizes it. Typically a family member is there with them urging the discussion. And it’s : I’m very worried about my mother, she keeps leaving the stove on and we’re afraid she’s going to burn down the house!
Or, We’re really worried about my sister since she won’t shower or get dressed!
Or, I’m really concerned about my wife who thinks everyone is out to get her and won’t sleep or eat!
So, while I have a good idea that I am not losing my mid, I am still frustrated:
I’m on vacation this week. We will be going away for a few days, which is great. But until then, I have a huge list of Things I Have Needed To Get Done For Months That I Need to Do Now Or They Will Never Get Done.
One thing that I have been wanting to do is to look through all our hoarded coupon flyers, clip the ones we may use, and use them. Yesterday, Labor Day Monday, I gathered up all the glossy colorful booklets and leaflets. I spread them out, and studied and clipped and snipped and organized. I used that free morning to go to the wholesale store to stock up on all the pricey things we need (that I had coupons for) like Pampers and baby formula and paper towels and toilet paper and contact lens solution and shampoo.
I entered the warehouse, marveled at the disgusting consumerism of America, coveted the really huge big-screen TVs and sparkly jewelry, then searched out all of my assiduously listed needed items. I loaded up the cart…and loaded… and loaded… until I was pulling that thing like I was coaxing a massive and stubborn pack donkey to the checkout.
And it was only well after I got home with my booty that I realized I had never given the goddamned coupons to the checkout lady.
How on earth??? How does someone with as many degrees as I do, who manages the health of others, who cares for the every need of two small helpless children, forget something so simple?
How, indeed.The same as when I went downstairs to fix up a bottle for Babygirl’s dawn feeding, realized I had to clean a nipple, then got absorbed cleaning all the dishes in the sink, scooping the kitty litter, and taking out the recycling, only to realize at dawn that I never made up the baby’s bottle.
The same as when I needed to ask directions to Occupational Health. Again. I only have to go there every single year for my stupid TB test.
The same as when I went to pick up my husband at the airport, and almost drove to work instead. At 8 pm on a Sunday night. (He doesn’t know about that one yet.)
I’m not losing my mind. I’m just sleep-deprived, overscheduled, and stressed. I will be, probably, until our babies are sleeping through the night… and maybe until they are in college.
But seriously, folks. We, in America, are all just blatantly overbusy. Our minds never relax. We go to yoga and compose our To Do lists during Shivasana. Or worry: I hope I don’t fart out loud. We go to work, where we have deadlines and meetings and conference calls; we have children with doctor’s appointments and endless lessons/ therapy/ playdates; we have our email and texts and calls and the cable guy and that salon appointment and the 10,000 mile tuneup and American Idol etc etc.
We need to relax, be quiet, be present. Our minds need this to function. We need this to be healthy.
I know that when I can, I need to turn it all off, and tune it all out. I need to meditate, pray, sit in silence. We all do.
It’s on my To Do List. So I don’t lose my mind.