How I lost my kitchen doorPosted: January 8, 2012
Last night, I lost my kitchen door. And, when I found it, I wondered if I might have lost my mind too.
I was about to go to bed and had just put some stuff in the kitchen. I stood there, in the doorway, wondering where the door was so I could close it. I found myself totally disorientated, and waved my hands around in bewilderment, trying to locate the door handle. Eventually it dawned on me. The door opened the other way, not the way I was facing. Dear me. So I turned round, and there it was, along with a big, clear sign saying ‘You need some sleep, Paul’.
Thankfully I did get some sleep (unlike the night before) and today have returned to my more common state of absent-mindedness and forgetfulness.
I think I used to have a good memory, but I can’t remember. It seems a lot of things can cause a person to become absentminded and forgetful. Stress is one of them. Tiredness is another. So is depression. As I tick all three of these boxes, I am entitled to a bit of mild memory loss. While parenthood isn’t generally listed as a cause of memory loss, it is, without question, a reliable source of tiredness and stress.
Until my daughter was born, I hadn’t experienced tiredness like the kind brought on by severe sleep deprivation over a prolonged period of time. It was one year until she slept through the night for the first time, then another year before this became anything like a regular occurrence. When my son was born, we had another year of sleep deprivation to add to our collection.
These days, it’s the depression that intermittently gives me sleepless nights, while the madness of day-to-day life as a working parent delivers the stress that causes further tiredness. No wonder, then, that I often find myself in the middle of something and suddenly stop, saying “what was I doing?” or “why did I come in here?”
It’s the same when I stop mid-sentence, my mind having gone completely blank. “What was I talking about?” has practically become my catchphrase.
Most of the time, this vagueness causes a bit of amusement with no drastic consequences – like when I found myself putting the kettle in the fridge, or trying to make coffee for a colleague using the water cooler. Sometimes it’s more embarrassing or unfortunate, like the time my mind stopped mid-Elvis impersonation and left a cringe-worthy pause in my rendition of Are You Lonesome Tonight? Or when, in a meeting, someone asks me a question about something I’m working on, and I can’t recall a single thing I’ve been doing, even though – or perhaps because – I’ve been working very hard on all kinds of different things.
And, most frustratingly, I had a classic ‘the lights are on but nobody’s home’ moment in a job interview, when I was asked to give examples of the creative work I claimed to have done. The most creative thing I could muster right then was a drawn-out “eerrrrrrrrm”.
I hope this vagueness will pass in time and is just a temporary blip. In due course, it would be nice to discover that my mind is actually still razor sharp. In the meantime, I’ll just have to embrace the vagueness – and go to bed earlier.