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5 Realities of Being a Young Person With Brain Fog

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Someone this weekend said, “I’m super forgetful.” And my immediate reaction was to roll my eyes. Mostly cause I’m rude, but also because lots of people say they’re “super” forgetful when they’re just normal people who occasionally leave their wallet behind. I mean, if there are people who never leave something behind when they walk out the door and they don’t have an eidetic memory, I would really like to meet them.

Me though? I have brain fog and memory problems caused by seizures. And I would love just to occasionally forget my wallet. Brain fog is the general term for a dysfunction in focus, learning, and/or memory that can cause brief episodes of confusion and disorientation. It’s unclear whether the brain fog is a side effect of my seizure medication or of the actual seizures, but my doctor has essentially said it’s probably not going away. And neither is my inability to remember things, though that appears to be directly linked to the seizures. Here are just a few realities of being a young person with memory problems:

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1. If I need to remember something even as simple as going from one web page to another to Google something, I need to repeat it in my head over and over again until I actually type it. Otherwise, I often find myself staring at a new tab with no idea why I opened it.

2. I write down in my planner absolutely everything the moment it happens and I need to transfer that to an online calendar and a to-do list. If doctors didn’t send out reminder phone calls, I would never show up.

3. I’ve lived in the same town for two years now and I still do not know my way around without a GPS. Even in my own neighborhood, I’m often pulling over to check where I am because nothing looks familiar. It happened Saturday night and I gave myself a break because it was dark and rainy. I honestly could not remember which direction I had entered the neighborhood from, though. It wasn’t until I recognized a street name that I realize where I was. Usually, that’s not enough. Usually, I recognize a street name and I’m like cool, I have no memory of what’s on this street or where it goes but I do remember that I’ve been on it before. Which is not exactly helpful.

4. I often find brain fog affects the knowledge least embedded in my brain. Math goes first. It was always my worst subject but I lose the ability to do simple addition when I’m having a brain fog episode. In general, my memory of the past has gotten less and less accurate. Sometimes I have to look up what my wedding song was by going into that playlist. Find me another girl who forgot her wedding song before her first anniversary. The only good thought I have if my memory truly does go early: I’ll at least get to experience Harry Potter again for the first time.

5. I thought the worst thing was forgetting a whole day after my first seizure, but it’s really a toss-up now. I went out to lunch with my husband and two friends and I have absolutely no memory of that day, that restaurant, anything to do with it. Everyone remembers me being completely lucid and didn’t notice anything wrong. It’s definitely odd to hear about what you ate for lunch yesterday for the first time from a third-party source. Even now I question my husband, “How did you think I was OK when I agreed to go to a hot dog place?”

To all those struggling with brain fog and memory problems, I sympathize because it’s really hard not being able to trust your own brain. I’ve learned though, it’s best to laugh it off and claim Hermione was a little too heavy-handed with the forgetfulness potion.

This story originally appeared on Forever a Mess, Jess.

Getty photo by Anna Ismagilova

Originally published: March 3, 2019
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