Am I Losing My Mind?

Fact: You reach a certain age, and no matter how young you feel inside, you start getting stupid. Stupider than your kids thought you were when they were 15 and knew everything compared to your nothing. I’ll modify that stupid a little bit, gentle it up a tad: You lose focus. And when you lose focus, you can do things like this – all of which actually happened to or were done by people I know, including myself . . .

Reach into your purse for a lipstick and put it on without a mirror while you are driving, only to discover you have just applied a generous coating of glue stick. Or, apply sunscreen head to toe before going out to garden, pat some of it onto your face, and discover, “Wow. This stuff is sticky,” because you have just applied hairspray instead of sunscreen. Or, walk to toward your car after dinner with a friend, see your car, and say, “I can’t believe I left my lights on,” only to discover you have left your car on. Or find yourself over-Googling to find the proper noun – author, song, book title, actor, movie – that is this close but you just can’t get to it.

It would be great if we could just head over to the local clinic to have a new memory chip inserted but, alas, despite all kinds of advances, such chips are only available for slow computers. Among our species, parts of our memory do decline. We can remember what we wore the first day of 4th grade but have no shot at recalling the last three books we read and aren’t necessarily great at what we had for dinner the night before.

But mishaps of the glue-stick kind are often just a matter of focusing on what we are doing at the time we are doing it. Of making a conscious effort to attend. So when I pull into a big parking lot, instead of jumping out of my car and being 10 steps into my errand, I stop and say: “Second row from the back. Front of store.” Other helps for staying sane when you think you are losing your mind.

  • Notepads everywhere, especially bedside.
  • Give yourself permission to do one thing or think about one thing at a time instead of giving a fraction of yourself to the task at hand.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to attack a task; it will rev you up and impede concentration.
  • Plan to be ready to leave the house half an hour before you really have to.
  • Leave yourself reminder sticky notes.
  • Put anything that has to leave the house with you at the front door and leave it there until you are ready to go.
  • Carry locker combinations in your wallet.