helen-louise (baratron) wrote,

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Some stuff about how my brain works.

This is one of the rambling personal entries I've been meaning to make for a while (think: months) and hadn't got round to. May be interesting if you intend interacting with me in person.

Ways in which my brain is odd:
1) I have a broken parser.
There's nothing wrong with my hearing, as far as I know. When someone talks to me, I hear the right number of approximately correct sounds at the right volume. But at times, I have trouble interpreting it into sensible English. Have you heard the joke about the navy colonel who sent messages like "Have found some fish and chips, please send a dish and all men." instead of "Have found sufficient ships, please send additional men"? Well, the former is how I often hear things, especially when tired.

I'm not quite sure why I'm telling you this. Most of the time after mishearing something I immediately work out what it should be. If I still don't get it, I'll say "Huh?" or "What?" or simply tell the other person what I heard for them to boggle at. The thing that is quite strange is that, although I'm more likely to misunderstand things said by people whose accents or speech patterns I'm unfamiliar with, my parser is broken even when I'm talking to someone I know really well.

This is also why I'm so likely to hear double entendres in innocuous statements, and why I'm so good at making completely unintentional dubious remarks. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.

2) I lose nouns
Um... thingy.

Seriously, my noun-losing is both very strange and very frustrating. When I'm tired or stressed, part of my vocabulary disappears - it's almost like I lose the ability to access the part of my brain that's storing words. It goes two ways - sometimes I forget a word but still know other words like it (like hedge and fence instead of wall), but other times I forget all the words associated with the concept and have to try to describe it from scratch. If I am not too tired and brain-fried to describe it from scratch, that is.

I don't know quite what causes it. I think it could be related to either depression or antidepressant use, because I know other people on similar drugs who have similar problems. It sometimes freaks the hell out of Richard, because it reminds him of when his grandfather started losing words after a stroke, and he worries it's some kind of brain damage. I don't think it is, because I don't have any problems at all if I haven't lost mental processing power to stress or tiredness or 101 other tasks that I'm trying to do all at the same time. Maybe it's bandwidth, or a faulty connection, or something.

Just as a point, while I'm happy to have people laugh at my broken parser, I really don't like it if people laugh at me losing nouns. Because I only tend to lose nouns when I'm already tired, stressed and frustrated - and the last thing I need when frustrated and exhausted is for people to mock me for being unable to do something, even if the people concerned think they're just doing friendly teasing. It doesn't seem friendly to me in that state.

3) I have extremely vivid dreams
I have very vivid dreams. I remember just about all my dreams in the first few minutes after waking, and most of them for at least the next day. Sometimes, if I dream about people and places that actually exist, the dream files itself into the same part of my memory as ordinary occurrences - so I end up with false memories about things that never happened. This is weird and sometimes scary - especially when I don't realise it's happened, and I talk to someone about something we did together once only to find it never actually happened...

I also suffer from nightmares, particularly when stressed or depressed. My most frightening nightmares have been about the most mundane things imaginable. I mean, I've had nightmares with chainsaw murderers and so on - I think everybody has those occasionally. But the worst nightmare I've ever had was one where I simply couldn't wake up. I'd had a nightmare about something that I don't even remember now and was fighting to wake up because I was scared - and I kept "waking up" in different beds. Sometimes the beds were completely different to the one I was asleep in, and sometimes it was my own bed but subtlely altered - like a different colour duvet to the one I actually had at the time. It was horrible - I "woke up" maybe 20 or 30 times before I woke up for real, and by the time I really woke up I was terrified I'd never be able to. After the first 10 times I'd started screaming, but apparently not out loud, because Richard & Alexa were both awake in the flat at the time and neither of them had heard anything. Ugh.

4) I have a very good memory for some things but not others...
My memory is so weird. While most people have different abilities for different memory tasks, my memory is one extreme or the other - it's either excellent or non-existent. The problem with this is that because I find some things trivially easy to remember, people often expect me to be good at remembering other things and are then surprised when I don't.

Something which I have noticed a huge improvement in recently is my process memory. I've always been good at finding my way round places - generally I only need to visit a place once to be able to remember the route, and by the second time I've got it sorted - but recently I've found other processes noticeably much easier as well. Like cooking - I used to be terrible at cooking (and lab chemistry), and had to follow recipes religiously, and check them 25 times per step. But these days I walk around with quite a few of my favourite recipes known off by heart - not just the ingredient weights, but also exactly how to make the finished thing. It helps that I'm much more relaxed about cooking than I used to be - maybe because I now have enough knowledge to be able to fix something if it goes wrong. Or maybe it's just that my brain is less fogged up by depression.

5) I apparently do not have any synaesthesia whatsoever.
I mention this because I know lots of people who do - ranging from people who find foreign languages easy to learn because they just remember the colour or smell of the word in the foreign language, to people to find foreign languages difficult because a word in English might have a completely different colour/smell/taste in another language, to someone who once got on the wrong train because she thought the train to Brighton should be green and actually it was blue (I think I've forgotten an important detail of this story). It sometimes bugs me that my brain is broken in so many weird-and-annoying ways, but not in a weird-and-sometimes-cool way :/

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