Thursday, October 30, 2008

Word Finding and Memory Problems

I am having so much difficulty with word finding and memory. I don't know if it is the depression or the medication. It's probably both. Whatever is causing it I am intensely frustrated, saddened and embarrassed by what I see is a continuing deterioration of my verbal intelligence, my ability to communicate and my memory; all aspects of myself that I highly value.

It seems like what words that used to flow out of me, without much thought are stranded somewhere in my brain. What used to take no time is now taking 10-20-30 seconds, and sometimes hours, or days to show up in my head. It is unpredictable what kinds of words I cannot find. Sometimes it is big words, sometimes it is everyday words like "pencil", or "palette", or "easel"

Here is an example of what happens:
Yesterday I was with a friend explaining how I really like this new show on t.v. called, "The Mentalist". I told her it is about this guy who used to be a "psychic" via trickery and observation. At some point early on, before the time in which the series is set, his wife and daughter are murdered by a serial killer. I can't remember if his chicanery led to the murders or not, but the murders lead him to a life change. He decides to use his powers of observation, and his ability to "read" people, for good and joins an investigative team with the California Bureau of Investigation.

The show is very... "insert word I can't find here"...and then I begin to fumble for the word. I know everything about the word, but its name. It means the show follows a pattern each week: A crime happens, the Bureau has a suspect, the mentalist does not believe that person caused the crime and, in a way that shows flippant disregard for the system, he shows everyone who the guilty party really is. The word I cannot find means "follows a pattern", or "plays out in a similar way", etc.

Neither of us could think of the word, so I bring this up in my appointment today and I STILL cannot think of the word despite knowing I know it, and that it is there, hidden somewhere in the folds of my brain.

It finally came to me when I was out with my puppy later in the morning. The show is "FORMULAIC". It may not seem like a big deal to some, but to me language is so important. The right word can often say more than a whole paragraph; as I believe I have proven in my above example. Also, it would not be a big deal if it weren't happening so often, and if it was not so noticeable to others. I feel like an idiot.

My memory is another problem (or part of the same problem?). I swear sometimes if you ask me what I did yesterday, or what day of the week it was, or when did I did a particular task...I just stare off into space, searching my brain. It feels similar to when your computer is really slow. Sometimes the answer eventually pops into my head, but sometimes it is as though I need to reboot. The memory is gone. So I end up saying I did such and such. I can't remember when, or I'm not sure which day, but I remember doing it.

Then sometimes I don't remember at all. This happens so much with television shows. I will start watching a show, my husband will say we have seen it. I will insist he may have, but I have not. Then suddenly, usually when the show is almost over, I begin to have the feeling I have seen it before and the memory of it pops into my head. Or alternately, I know I have seen a show I begin to watch, but I have absolutely no recall of what it is watching it again is like seeing it for the first time.

My husband gets so angry with me. He says I'm stoned all the time on my medication. He belittles my inability to remember. I feel awful, that I cannot remember, but I wish he would give me a break.

Dr. X. is going to help me in some fun ways, to see if I can improve my memory. Today he came up with some interesting ideas about how to help retain what I learn and learn in the first place. The task he gave me this week is to find a magazine I like and read a couple articles that interest me. I will then bring them to our appointment next week and we will have a conversation about the articles. I understand the point will be to exercise my memory.

Dr. X. has been so comforting the past few weeks. I find his faith in me and his, "together we can do it, we can help me make progress together" attitude inspiring, even when I am sitting across from him crying. He has a knack for really listening to me and understanding me. I am able to appreciate and value his help even in my darkest moments.

Oh yeah....and I'm supposed to take my vitamins EVERY day. I will if I remember..ha, ha!


Jazz said...

I know that problem and the frustration you're feeling very well! Don't know how helpful it is to tell you this, but I had exactly the same experience when I was taking Depakote. It went away after I stopped the Depakote...but I realize stopping or switching meds may not be an option for you.

Lola Snow said...

I......I erm......y'know....err...EMPATHISE!

It's so frustrating,like you haven't got enough to deal with, you lose the words to describe the irritation that this illness causes as well!

If it means anything, some days your writing is really fluid, so you'd never guess that it can be a problem for you - like that post you wrote the other day about the blueberry field, or when you described the dog attack.

I think the exercises will help with your memory - the brain is surely like a muscle, no? Practice will help.

As for remembering stuff, THAT i can relate to. I went to the shops the other day, and had to run home at full speed(In high heels!!!) I'd realised in the supermarket that I'd gone out and left the keys hanging in the door...on the outside! Now that is bad!! S'pecially where I live!

Lola x

Aqua said...

Jazz: I had that problem really badly with Depakote too...moreso the memory problems. I would walk into a room to do something, get there and have absolutely no idea why I was in the room, or what I went there to do...very frustrating.

Lola: I've done the keys things so often...but I live in the country so the risk is less. One thing I have been doing a lot of lately is forgetting to lock my car. I'm in the city often....and in this city an unlocked car is a magnet for theives. Last week I even left my car unlocked with my beautiful puppy in the car...I came back and cannot express how relieved I was that he had not been stolen. Man, I'm a bad mom.