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Re: Memory

Posted by Rick on October 21, 1999, at 11:39:51

In reply to Memory, posted by Adam on October 20, 1999, at 10:30:25

This is a complicated topic, but there are so many factors that can figure in, from natural aging effects to anxiety to garden-variety stress to cognitive overload to fatigue to meds to the type of memory involved. As they enter middle age, many of my friends, like myself, are complaining about having more trouble with recall. Spontaneous word recall problems, temporarily forgetting one’s own phone number, and losing things are all common complaints.

I’ve always had a problem when confronted with requests for directions for routes I know well...especially if I’m sitting in traffic and feel pressured to finish quickly before the light changes and people start honking. Every time, I tell myself “THIS this time I’m going to get it RIGHT”, and then, the moment the poor sap that chose me for directions is gone, I realize I screwed up. They probably think I’m a sadist when they see the “Welcome to Indiana” sign after following my directions to get to Wisconsin. I thought this might be a reflection of my Social Phobia (performance anxiety component?), but while meds have greatly helped my condition -- and even my overall cognitive functioning (through release of anxiety?) -- I still have these kinds of problems.

For me and many others, I think a big contributor to the problem is a kind of run-of-the-mill self-consciousness or “trying too hard” when I start to do well at golf or bowling, then over-analyze my progress. Then I suddenly turn into duffer par excellence or the gutter ball king. When other(s) are watching, the situation is exacerbated. The more I dwell on something, the more self-conscious I become and the worse I perform, or the worse I remember.

> As some of you may have read, I'm currently taking an monoamine oxidase inhibitor, and fairly recently have gotten
> onto what I feel is a "therapeutic dose."
> I've experienced fairly mild side effects. The least subtle have been sleep disturbance and some jitters. It's the
> more subtle effects that have me concerned at this point.
> Example: Yesterday someone asked me my phone number, and for the life of me, I could not remember it. I have lived
> at the same address for over three years, and my phone number hasn't changed once during that time. I'm sure it would
> have come back to me (I consulted an ID before I had the chance), but it seems to me that my phone number of all things
> ought to be an immediate recall item. I've had similar experiences over the past couple weeks. I like the composer
> Erik Satie, and was discussing his music with someone over lunch. Thing is, after a few minutes, even though I had said
> "Satie" at the beginning of the conversation, I suddenly lost the name. I just couldn't get it out. It was there, just,
> well, temporarily inaccessible. I'm finding names particularly difficult these days. And directions. Someone asked
> me how to get to my appartment from Boston, and damned if I didn't have to go to Yahoo to get a map. This is a trip I
> have made many, many times, at least from their general area.
> I guess all this could be a sign of age, but it's not like I'm _that_ old (just shy of 30). I know depression can have
> profound effects on memory, but I'm not feeling especially depressed at the moment. I could be getting paranoid, but
> the phone number lapse kind of jarred me. That's a definite first, and frankly, I felt like a bit of a dope. I'm a bit
> worried because I'm a researcher, and my memory is one of those assets I can't do without. I've never been especially
> great at memorization, but my ability to remember and recall information has never got me worried before. Now I'm a
> little worried.
> Any thoughts? Suggestions?




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