Lately, we’ve talked about the notion of grief brain and having just done a quick Google, I feel pretty validated that its a genuine thing.
I remember when baby brain hit when I was pregnant with Leo. I’d stare at the keyboard for ages at work, trying to work out how to spell the simplest of words. It’s such an odd sensation, especially when you are used to being fairly sharp and on the ball, able to juggle a wide variety of things, and so forth.
As the intensity of grief leaves us, you start to identify the changes that grief has on you. One big side effect of grief (and I presume the stress it comes with) is the effects on your brain. It’s so much more unsettling than baby brain. It is more intense, more controlling and you can’t just laugh it off as some funny side effect of being joyfully pregnant. It’s a side effect of dealing with that baby dying, and it sucks.
This week I went to London. Pre-Leo, travelling did not phase me – I’m of the sat nav and app generation, travelling is easy. I’ve been to London quite a bit lately. Yet I was staring at the train times and could not work it out. I could not calculate the time I had to leave the house to get to the station, to get a particular train. So I didn’t. I just planned to leave the house when I was ready and work it out then.
Then, the next day, I got to the station and the train was delayed. I checked the app, and I could have got the delayed one that was slower, or got the on-time but faster train 5 minutes later but needed to change. Again, I just stared at the phone and couldn’t work it out. It was such an easy thing, with neither option having any real consequences on anything. I had to screenshot it, send it to The Wife and ask her to tell me what to do.
This same journey was just full of grief brain. I went full on obsessive, checking my bag over and over for the same things. I then got in the car, and rechecked that I had my bank card, my phone, the house keys. I just couldn’t visiualise if I’d already seen them or checked them. I failed to trust my own brain or memory.
We now also are a lot kinder on each other – when we used to tut and get annoyed at the other for “not listening” – it’s now a case of simply not remembering a single thing about that conversation. We can have a conversation about something, and the other person will have genuinely forgotten it the next day.
For intelligent, sharp, somewhat care free people this can actually feel scary and unsettling. It isn’t a nice feeling, not being able to trust your own brain, and results in quite a bit of anxiety when you know you’re not on form – which, obviously doesn’t help!
Whilst our energy levels are somewhat improving, meaning we can now put our efforts into things that even a few months ago would have just exhausted us – these mental effects of grief are still there, and you have to remind yourself that you still need to take it easy, or give yourself a break, even nine months on. You see, time isn’t a healer, it doesn’t get easier – because as the fog of grief lifts, and you can start to see the horizon again on a clear day, the dew that it leaves behind sits as the messy marker of the fogs existence. You still need to breathe deeply, and take it one thing at a time.
And on a practical level, that’s why we just let all our insurances roll over despite the price going up, because we attempted to compare the meerkat, but the staring at all the various options with subtle differences, just went on too long.