Heya, Monster.

A SoberBlog by a TallWoman.

L-s–g -y W-rd- …

Losing my words! Yikes.

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The past several weeks (2-3 at the least) I have found myself in the middle of a conversation completely stuck, searching for a simple, elementary word or concept. Truly bizarre, especially for a linguist/actor such as myself.

A significant example of this phenomena happened last weekend when I brunched with my girlfriends. One of the gals was updating us on a spinal injury she had suffered – a slightly slipped disc. I began to ask her about the muscles surrounding the disc, and wondered if they were __________, or if there was any ___________ that might be making the recovery slower. For the Life of me, I could not find even the sounds of what I wanted to say. I kept gesturing with my hands, holding them together and then growing them apart, but again, I just could not find the words. I started trying to find synonyms, but even those had deserted me. All I had were my flailing hands, a big spoonful of embarrassment, and worrying if my friends thought I was actually drunk at 9 in the morning. Gah.

Finally, another girlfriend read my rudimentary sign language, and asked, ‘Swollen?’ Yes! Thank you, God. The conversation continued. … And for the record, I didn’t think of the second concept until I was driving home from the date. ‘Scar tissue.’ Scar tissue, people. I couldn’t think of ‘scar tissue.’ Dear lord.

And really? This is only one example! Losing words, phrases, and names, or mixing sounds from one word with another, has been happening every day for the past 3 weeks, or so. I really do believe it is PAWS. I am rather certain of it. But for it to last so long, man, it is such an odd, uncomfortable, completely halt-me-in-my-tracks feeling.

On a nerd-level, I am rather curious about what is going on in my brain. I wonder what’s getting fixed up there, while my Vocabulary has gone on a Caribbean vacation and failed to take me with it.

The last several of months I was still drinking, I found a similar lapse in language, and really Memory in general. It was perhaps the biggest sign that I was in trouble. I started to worry what memories I was actually making, versus what memories I had begun to lose and blur out as a result of my heavy drinking. As a 30-something year-old woman, I had begun to worry if I was headed towards the true Stage 5 of Alcohol Addiction. I knew my loss of memory was not normal. However, it was something I could mostly hide from others because it was all inside, locked away. But deep down, I knew. And as I said, I started to get scared.

Having my language disappear at certain moments has been a reminder of those scarier, darker last days of drinking. From my sober vantage point, it is actually kind of nice to revisit the past, because even though my words are a little wonky at times, I am safe to remember those days – and I do remember those days! Rather vividly, actually. And those days remind me why I gave up drinking. Why it was an absolute necessity that I gave up the drink. I was getting slowly erased from the inside out.

And for the record, losing my words here and there is actually kind of funny. I wonder each day what’s going to come out of my mouth. I have no idea. *smile* It keeps me on my toes, and anticipating a rather ridiculous social moment, or many. Ha.

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Day 158, Ab–c-da-ra.*

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19 thoughts on “L-s–g -y W-rd- …

  1. riding on empty on said:

    I know exactly what you’re going through. Same thing here for at least the past year. Basic concepts/words I apply at work – gone. (On vacation, as you say.) People’s names – people I’ve worked with for years – gone on occasion. Given that my day job involves the precise use of language, losing some of it is concerning. I hate to say it, but I don’t know if it gets better over time, but I do think it’s inextricably (there’s a word I remember) linked to drinking and PAWS (a concept I rejected last year, but gradually came to accept.) I have read from others that PAWS hangs around for the first 6 months to a year, so I suppose we both have to wait it out.

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  2. Oh yeah, the memory lapses. It was starting to worry me too. I was noticing that even memories I made when I was sober were being smudged after a night of drinking (which was every night). And now I’m realizing what a habit it has been each morning to do a mental inventory of what happened the night before to make sure I remember all of it. Or when I’m not sure whether something happened/was said/done or not, to make a note of whether or not I was sober when it happened and then try to draw the lines back in. Gah.

    I hadn’t heard of PAWS. Six months to a year, really? Alright… here we go.

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  3. Yeah, I forgot that I had that :-D. But I had it too 🙂 Your memory will return, it might take a while but it does. Mine is not restored yet fully but it will. I also wonder if it has something to do with so many synapses in our brains having to change when getting sober.

    And also, before you jump into the PAWS concept (and God forbid – ‘medication’ for it) you might want to look into low-bloodsugar or hypoglycemia; this has the SAME symptoms as PAWS. It works out that most of the people who have been drinking heavily also have a physical thing with low bloodsugar. If you are interested; dr Joan Mathews Larson has written a book on getting alcohol free and she explaines how the body works, what alcohol has damaged and how, by using the vitamins and minerals, you can restore stuff. The book is good, though some people can’t get through it – but her vitamin plan is pretty expensive if you want the full deal. However, I found that taking the info and translating it too adding some specific foods to my diet has helped me a lot too. Would not do the trick on people damaged heavily by alcohol but for your ‘avarage working alcoholic’ it might. 🙂

    xx, Feeling

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  4. Robert Crisp on said:

    I think it’s PAWS, too, and I have the same experience (and got to the point at the end of my drinking days that my memories were foggy and language began to trip me up). Stressing about it makes it worse–stress seems to aggravate all PAWS symptoms–but it really worried me at first. I tend to have entire days when I’m fine and my words come to me, which is important for a teacher and also helpful when talking to my wife and children. But then I have days when I know it’s going to be a struggle; I can usually tell when I wake up. I shrug and try to let it go. I tend to think people notice every verbal slip I make, but they don’t. I’m just being self-involved, as usual.

    My writing, on the other hand, has improved, and I would much rather that be intact that my verbal ability. If written words failed me as often as spoken words, I’d probably go back to drinking, sad as that is to say. The creative writing part of my brain sighed with relief when the major withdrawal symptoms went away, and my writing took off like a rocket.

    Hang in there, as I know you will. As you know, PAWS can last up to two years. I’m in it for the long haul, and I’m glad to have you as a blogging, traveling companion . : )

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  5. I have found my ability to connect thoughts was dulling.
    Sobriety has returned that, although now I think menopause is impacting it in other ways.
    I definitely used to be sharper in my younger days. I have accepted I need reminders now,

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  6. I’ve found think happening too, scrambling around in my head for a word that I can clearly picture or ringing Jubba to tell him something only for him to say ” you told me already” yikes! I’ve actually found this happens when I haven’t had enough quality sleep or am run a bit ragged and am run down. May be a nana nap might help? x

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  7. My phone changed hubbs to Jubba.. What is a Jubba even? Ha!

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  8. Ha. I don’t know about you, but Patience is not my strong suit. I may need to re-watch the Star Wars series and commune with my inner Jedi… Particularly when my inner Jedi uses Ewan McGregor’s voice. … For real, though. I am bolstered by the fact that it means our brains are healing. I think that is just so cool to think about. I’m hopeful that if not all the damage can be fixed, then at least some of it can be. 15 years of drinking leaves me with a lot to patch-up.

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  9. The memory stuff was really scary for me. I really thought I was on the edge of ‘too far gone,’ and was worried I might lose everything I love – my family, my job, my home, my Life. Thank goodness I stopped when I did. …. As for PAWS, yes. I’ve heard effects can last (sporadically) as long as 2 years. I’m always kind of keeping my feelers up for when sobriety stuff gets tricky, or I’m feeling particularly low, or well, like my language stuff at the moment…. It’s nice to have a reason for it all, and not just get overwhelmed, throw in the towel, and drink. PAWS helps me stay hopeful and able to wait out the yuck, because there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. And so far? That’s held true with all of my obstacles. …. How are you? How was Saturday night? -HM.

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  10. I remember you mentioning Matthews Larson in your blog this past summer. I was curious, so I looked her up. I love the idea of adding specific foods to my diet, thank you for reminding me of that. …. As for PAWS, I think I’m on enough medication as it is, so I am not looking to medicate symptoms away. As I was saying to Rachel, just knowing there’s an end in sight – sometime – is enough to keep me sober. My plan is always just to hunker down and wait it out. I feel like I haven’t talked with you in awhile, how are you? -HM.

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  11. Aww, my best friend and I talk about the TCs in our lives all the time. I am happy to be here with you as well. *smile* …. As for PAWS, yep. Holding on and waiting it out. I’m impressed you can tell what kind of day it’s going to be when you wake-up, my language is a bit more ninja-like, and tends to jump-kick me in the head with surprise attacks. Oh, well. As I said, I’ll just wait for it to pass. … And, too, as for writing, I completely understand what you mean. I am (and always have been) so much more confident in my written words than my spoken words. I love speaking with a script, but ad libbing is a completely different ballgame. With writing, I have always been able to center myself in a way I’m usually not able to while speaking. There’s something in the process that tethers me and my quick-jumping brain that doesn’t happen when I talk. …. Hope your Sunday is love-ily. -HM.

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  12. Reminders are good at any time of our lives. *smile* …. And the connecting thoughts, yes to that, too! Sometimes I will start out a thought, and then just get stuck hanging there with no where else to go. … I will say, even with the language trouble, that I much prefer this state of being than the one I was in whilst drinking. Times a thousand. -HM.

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  13. Perhaps a nano-nap would be good. For myself, I haven’t been able to figure out a correlation between each day’s vocab faux pas, but lack of sleep might be a reason. I will keep checking in with myself. Thank you, Millie.* -HM.

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  14. Haha. No idea! For a moment, I thought your words had slipped, or perhaps it was a nickname for your beloved. I was just going with it. *smile*

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  15. p.s. AutoCorrect is the least intelligent of the AI out there, in my opinion. It always gives me the wildest solutions when I may just be writing a grocery list or something. DumbDumbDumb!

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  16. I’m fine, tired from working and immensly sad in a very nondescript way but that’s all ok. 🙂 I have the idea that I am where I need to be so that is good. 🙂
    She’s got a book on how to treat depression and anxiety with vitamins and minerals as well. Depression free naturall – but I might have spammed that to you already? I very much ike having all this info in one book. By now I think that taking vitamins pills only might be dangerous because they may deplete the body from nutrients which are needed to process the vitamins. So I now combine stuff with the food they are originally from or only up on the food. Having said that: I am currently mostly into vitamin C (from chocolate).
    xx, Feeling

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  17. here we are talking about brain slips, so you’re like ” maybe she’s having another senior moment” hahaha

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  18. I have an afternoon nap every sat and sun, even its its a 15 minute power nap and it has helped a lot. I don’t find myself getting do frazzled either. hope it helps xx

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  19. Oh! I’m with you on that, it’s frustrating as duck. Hahahaha

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