Now before I begin, please know that I am no brain doctor, but I have been pondering why it is that my mind has gone – what I can only describe as – “melty” during this pandemic. Even though we are now in this middley weirdness of maybe-going-to-the-pub-but-not-seeing-family-members oddness, it is still melty.
I call it brain melt because I cannot recall what day of the week it is, I cannot conjure the name of things, I even find it difficult to remember something that happened yesterday, even an hour ago. Needless to say, my daily gratitude journal has become somewhat of a challenge over this period as I just can’t remember anything.
I posted about this briefly on social media and LOTS of people seem to be experiencing the same… But why?
To flex the old grey matter and attempt to form sentences, I thought I might suggest some reasons as to why I think, we might have brain melt… But remember…No doctor.
ABSENT SOCIAL CONNECTIONS
Looking to the older generation… It seems to me that when people get older and their social connections fade away, their world and experiences shrink. They become less functional and also less able to recollect small current-day details. I think back to my grandma and her continually telling the same war time stories over and over.
Not only do I feel that my experiences and connections have faded, my conversations have become a little one-dimensional because there is just less going on. I would also say I am currently spending more time focused on the past, referencing pre-lockdown this, pre-lockdown that. I have connected a lot with people online and through calls and zoom but it just doesn’t seem the same or breathe the same life into me as real-life.
THE WORLD HAS BECOME 2D.
We have all adapted to Zoom, Skype and Google Meets very well, give yourself a big pat on the back. But this is a 2D environment. I personally, tie my memories to experiences, or fully realised environments. Someone sent me a book over lockdown, and I can remember having a conversation about it, but when the book arrived it literally took days to recall who I had spoken to because my environment has been consistently the same. My brain failed to connect the dots.
I am a visual person and the colour of someone’s clothes, the smell of the coffee shop or the buzz of other conversations helps me create mental maps and recall information more accurately. I eventually tracked down the person who sent the book, by embarrassingly texting about six or so people.
THE ANXIETY CLOUD
I am not sure I have met anyone who has not felt anxious during this situation. Some people have suffered full on meltdowns, where others seem to have taken it in their stride. I have neatly bounced between these two points, but most seem to be suffering from a general low-level doom.
This constant yet subtle anxiety cloud hangs over me like a foreboding rainstorm and regardless of if it is me or others suffering with this feeling of anxiety, it has the same effect… Distraction. I imagine it to be like you have forgotten the name of a song, and it’s right at the tip of your tongue, the conversation continues but you can’t get be fully involved because you are trying to remember the song name. I have definitely felt consistently like there is this over bigger thing I need to focus on, probably because COVID also has a real threat attached to it.
The final thing for me and my melty brain is that without environments, real-life conversations or structure, I find it near-impossible to compartmentalise my activities, tasks and thoughts. As an example, I used to get “in-the-zone” by waking up, driving to Whiteley Starbucks and getting in “work-mode.” Likewise, I would come home later in the day, do some life-admin and then perhaps plan social media in the office. I would also visit different people, in different places to chat through different projects I am working on.
This created lots of little boxes for me, as well as name and place association. But without these ties all my activities are in one big box, which is much more difficult to organise. And as much as I love colour-coding my diary and planning in time for different activities, it just doesn’t quite achieve the desired result.
So, what do we do?
For now, I operate loosely and give myself time to adapt, I recognise that this will eventually rectify itself and I will go right back to how I used to operate, it is just very weird and I hope sharing this, helps you to give yourself some slack too.
I wonder if you have experienced or are experiencing the same as the above, or if your COVID melty brain is different? Feel free to pop a comment and add to the discussion.