I had a roommate in college who studied mental health. She focused on gerintology for a time, and would bring home tests for us (to make sure that we were indeed 20-something college students, and not elderly people in disguise). I am a terribly unfocused person and from time to time, my husband gives me shit about being dementia bound. Of course, this is not funny, dementia is scary. Fortunately, it’s most scary to those of us who witness it. To those of us who have it, once we’re fully immersed in our dementia it is probably like a long-term holiday. Making new friends. Eating new foods. Talking to our pets who’ve been dead for 20 years. Not all bad. Anyway, what I have is not dementia… it is a serious lack of attention. Perhaps a lazy persons version of ADD or ADHD. I am easily and constantly distracted. Like right now, for instance. I was just cleaning, I came over to the computer to print some homework assignments because I forgot about cleaning. I “woke” my sleeping computer to find myself checking email. That reminded me to check my blog, because I haven’t had much time for it lately. That reminded me that I was actually supposed to be printing my homework, or no… that wasn’t it. Oh I WAS CLEANING! RIGHT! So, I guess that’ll have to wait. While we’re on the subject of mental health, let me return to my original train of thought. My old roommate would encourage me with bits of knowledge:
“Don’t worry, it’s not that you can’t find your keys, it’s that you can’t recall what your keys are for, or what a key is.”
“Can you count backwards from 100 by 7’s?” (no. I can’t do this. OH MY GOD! I’ve lost it!)
Mini-mentals are quick little tests that are given to people suspected to be suffering some form of dementia. The fact that later that day we floated on a lake, rhyming ‘-tion’ words (inebriation, annihilation, constipation, manipulation, etc.) for at least and hour, while laughing ridiculously hard, probably means that we weren’t qualified to be judging other people’s mental states, let alone our own. So, there you have it. Vacations from the here and now, even if only in your mind, are fun! I can thank my dad for this distracted-ness ability. I think it protects us from being to serious. My mom is always panicking that he has dementia.
“He doesn’t remember things I just told him that morning!”
There is a difference between poor mental health and intentionally turning off your hearing aid.
I do not have a hearing aid, because other than the damage I have suffered from fighter jets zooming past overhead and small children loudly screaming in my ear, my hearing is just dandy. I know what my car key is for, but I try time and time again to unlock someone else’s car with it. That does not mean I am suffering from brain shrinkage. A lack of coffee… perhaps. I do find it alarming that my first response is not “whose car is this?” but rather, “what the hell is wrong with my key?” In the early years of parenthood I made a couple of trips to the gym while sporting clogs (two different color clogs). My sister made sure I knew this was simply the way your brain works after having children. She did a whole workout with two different athletic shoes. I have put the checkbook in the freezer. I have found the milk in the pantry. I have no clue how I’ve kept track of my daughter for six years.
Every now and then it’s good to reassess. Your brain may not be as quick and it was when you were a teen and you could make out with a boy while studying for your biology exam and managed to do both quite well. It may not comprehend your spouse 85% of the time, due to a combination of hearing loss and Charlie Brown Syndrome. CBS. You know. The teacher in Charlie Brown?
“mwa mwa ma mwa mahh mahh.”
Different shoes are not necessarily a sign of dementia. It just means that you’ve been woken at least five times in an eight-hour period and you got dressed in the dark and never looked in the mirror. Welcome to motherhood. Some of us suffer from dementia. Some of us suffer from a lack of focus. Some of us suffer from sleep deprivation. Some of us just suffer. Those people are hard to be happy around aren’t they? Guess what. I do it anyway.
They don’t like me.
Now, if I can stay focused for five minutes, I must start practicing counting backwards from 100 because that is really hard for me. If I start now, maybe I’ll have it memorized when I really do have dementia… and I’ll be able to fake them out for a week or two, while I pack my bags and start walking to Hawaii. If you see me, as an elderly woman, sporting my flip-flops, wearing zinc oxide on my nose, just let me walk on by… right into the ocean. In my bubble there is only simple addition. And I have friends who are sea turtles.
Have you noticed that the mini-mentals are quite similar to DUI tests? So, next time you decide to drink and drive, you may want to consider just how much your brain has shrunk.
You have just been found incompetent.