Shelly Hickman

Ramblings and Whatnot

When Brain Cells Take Extended Leave

PictureSource: Classy Sassy and Smart Assy Facebook page
​Though I just turned 50 a couple months ago, I’m worried about the fact that my concentration and memory have been slipping out the door for a while now. 

I would never try to imply I was once genius material, but as a teen and young adult, I prided myself on being a strong student with a solid capacity to absorb and retain information.

These days, not so much.

Now, I’m not referring to the universal frustration of forgetting why you entered a room, or the occasional word escaping your vocabulary. The few instances I’m about to describe go beyond that.

I’ve never been great with names to begin with, but at work I’m having increasing difficulty remembering the names of my students. (Being a computer teacher, the fact that I look at the backs of their heads most of the time doesn’t help matters.)

I have trouble focusing on an article/book/task for more than a few minutes before choosing to move on to something else. When online, I usually have 5-6 tabs open at once and frequently pop back and forth between them, with no apparent reason for doing so other than I’m bored.

When driving I sometimes feel off my game, like I can’t fully process all that’s going on around me.

And the most alarming has been while playing Yahtzee with my family, I find myself staring blankly at the dice as I try to total them – sometimes only two dice at a time. (What’s 3 + 5 again?)

Hubby says my lack of focus is beginning to concern him, and he’s not the only one! What in the world is happening to me? Recently I’ve been hearing about menopausal brain fog, but is it real? Or am I developing Alzheimers? I’m beginning to understand what it must feel like to have ADHD, and it suuuuucks.

According to an article I found on WebMD, dipping estrogen levels and other hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause and menopause contribute to this brain fog, and thankfully it’s not permanent. At least, it’s not supposed to be. But in the meantime, what’s a girl to do? My heart goes out to the women with professions that demand mental acuity. Not that most jobs don’t demand mental acuity, but I’m talking life and death type stuff (surgeons, police officers, defense attorneys, etc.)

I had planned to start writing again this summer because there are characters swimming around in my head who are waiting for me to tell their story, but I’m reluctant because I have serious doubts I can maintain the focus needed.

If nothing else, this whole chapter has given me a deeper empathy for students who have problems focusing and completing a task, and I have great admiration for women my age who find it in themselves to go back to school for a second career. I don’t think I’d have the mental capacity to achieve it – at least, not until I move through this phase of my life – however long that may be.

Here’s to yet another bump in the road while attempting to age gracefully! A friend and I were talking about this recently when she said, “I used to be articulate! At least, I always thought I was.” She took the words right out of my mouth (that is, when I can remember them.)

So… to the ladies who have made it over this difficult hump and have reunited with their gray matter, I welcome any wisdom, suggestions, tips, encouragement, etc., that may help the rest of us poor suckers survive this unnerving stage.

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About Me

Las Vegas native, Computer Science teacher, and writer (when the mood strikes). Author of five novels – mostly romantic comedies – available on Amazon and Audible.


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