The one where I forget where I live for about 4 seconds

My memory is notoriously bad. I feel awful when my children ask me about things from their childhoods and I look blank. Or, even worse, they remind me about a conversation we had the week before and I have no recollection of it at all.

This week though I had four whole seconds of complete blankness.

I was dropping a friend off at her house – one of those terraces in Bristol where you have to take your chance on finding somewhere to park on the road. “I bet you don’t have this problem at your house,” she said.

I thought about it, but couldn’t for the life of me picture my street. Did I have to park on the road? Did I have a drive? I thought about it some more, but really wasn’t sure where I lived. The moment lasted a good three or four seconds. Count to four in your mind now – it’s quite a long time to not be able to remember where you live.

So what I want to know is, is this normal?? 

We all lead very busy lives nowadays, and have a lot of information coming at as from a lot of different angles. When I was younger it was face to face communications, the television, the telephone, (plugged into the wall at home), and print media. Now it’s all of the above, plus the vastness that is the internet. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, news websites, emails – it’s a never ending stream of facts and figures, most of them completely unnecessary. 

So is it to be expected that some things will get forgotten? Is it natural that as our brains get fuller and fuller, we will struggle to hold it all inside our heads?

Do you find yourself forgetting simple things, or am I losing the plot?

memory loss

Image – conrado/shutterstock.

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29 Comments

  1. msedollyp
    26 September, 2015 / 3:09 pm

    its normal for me…. especially since a) having children b) getting older c) when particularly hormonal….. maybe your brain stopped to think about where you live right now because I know you have moved…..?

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      27 September, 2015 / 6:11 pm

      Aha, you see, it turned out I was pre-menstrual too, so that could definitely be a factor!

  2. Mark
    26 September, 2015 / 3:14 pm

    If it makes you feel any better I have a similar problem with memory that was brought on by a certain type of sleeping pill. When it was at its worst you could have a conversation with me, and the moment it was over I’d have forgotten it took place.

    I remember walking back from the doctors one day (only two streets away from where I lived) and I reached a crossroads and simply couldn’t remember where I lived and how to get there. I sort of stood around vaguely panicking for about ten minutes before heading down each direction until I’d either managed to dismiss it or it ended, then heading back until I found the one that took me back to the main road, which I lived on.

    Given where I lived was all hills, and effectively I should have known to just GO DOWN, it is absolutely crazy what the mind will do to itself.

    I’m nowhere near as bad as that now, but I still find myself forgetting things and asking myself “Is this normal, or should I be worried?”.

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      27 September, 2015 / 6:10 pm

      I think it’s that worrying about whether you should be worrying that’s almost the worst bit, although your example sounds really scary! How long did you go on feeling like that for? I do forget whole conversations quite soon after having them.

  3. 26 September, 2015 / 7:09 pm

    I do that sort of thing all the time – but then, I am pregnant, so that’s my excuse ;)

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      27 September, 2015 / 6:09 pm

      And a very good one it is too :-)

  4. 27 September, 2015 / 12:01 am

    I had a moment like this recently….I was setting up security for something and I had to give answers to my fave food, singer, teacher and I couldn’t think of anything! Good job I wrote my answers down as they were so random. lol x

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      27 September, 2015 / 6:09 pm

      It always frustrates me when they ask security questions like that as I know I’m going to give different answers every time!

  5. Christine Wilkinson
    27 September, 2015 / 12:42 pm

    Hi Jo, just read your latest blog about your memory lapses, especially the one bit about forgetting where you lived. Although I experience like you many forgetful situations, and more and more as I get older, (for instance am trying to forget I am actually going to be 68 tomorrow!!) I have not forgotten for one instant where I live. If you are concerned about your memory situation, for serious, I would consult someone in the know about it, just to put your mind at rest! As you say, we are so bombarded with tech, tv, and world problems now am surprised we don’t forget our own names sometimes, as we all live under extremes of stress nowadays! Love your blog by the way, and your short rants, can identify with so much when I was your age. My best wishes to you, Christine

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      27 September, 2015 / 6:08 pm

      Thanks Christine! Interestingly, the next day I slept in, not meaning to, until 11.30am, so perhaps I was tired! Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.

  6. 27 September, 2015 / 10:44 pm

    I find I forget the words for things. I end up saying “it’s the big thing covered in bark and has leaves” because for the life of me the word tree just isn’t in my brain/vocabulary at that moment. It happens A LOT. My 5 year old daughter asked me the other day why I could never remember words, it’s that bad. No need to worry I don’t think, although I may bring it up at my next person who wears a stethoscope appointment ;-)

  7. 28 September, 2015 / 9:09 am

    I remember getting into a taxi to come home from town and it took me a good few seconds to remember my address!

  8. 16 October, 2015 / 2:16 pm

    I am glad to say that it is ALL, perfectly, normal. In fact, I can make you feel better. I was in the supermarket some years back pushing my 18 month old son around in a trolley. I had made my way from the fruit and veg, into the into the detergent aisle looking for washing powder, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. A fraught looking woman looked at me and said ‘ You have my trolley!’ I looked down and I did indeed have far more vegetables than normal, but worse than that, I had left my son in the fruit and veg aisle!

  9. 14 April, 2016 / 5:44 pm

    I also have had a terrible memory, especially since my children were born. I blame tiredness, especially as I was in heart failure when I was pregnant with my second child and have had heart problems since which leave me very tired. I did, however, recently see a TV programme where a young woman was afraid she had dementia, and it turned out she had low blood pressure and whenever it dipped, she didn’t get enough oxygen to her brain and it gave her temporary confusion or memory loss. So maybe your BP is a bit on the low side? I know mine is! My best confusion is sometimes forgetting which side of the road to drive on(!). It’s momentary but worrying when it happens!

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      18 April, 2016 / 9:06 am

      That’s really interesting! My blood pressure wasn’t low last time I had it checked, but I have done things before like faint when I’ve given blood, and my blood sugar tends to be a bit skewy, so I guess that could have a similar effect??

  10. noname
    12 January, 2017 / 3:07 pm

    forgot where I lived and can hardly return for an hour after work, then suddenly a sexy woman walk before me and in the end we fall in love and do it in bed that day, realizing afterward that the surrounding is not familiar so I panicked and wondered what happened to me since I’d made my way from my work for I know now that I am married to the only woman I pledged to be with…. what do you think is this sort of phenomenon? well, that’s a good excuse aha! and who gonna believed it since I INTENTIONALLY make it. (this is a joke story guys don’t do it intentionally for God is there watching). Well, maybe it is due to lack of sleep, fatigue and over stress especially in financial for I am still young but it happens to me that I can’t make out the place where I’d been before. I guess I can’t be qualified for a driver. Sad. :(

  11. Sherrie
    3 June, 2017 / 7:10 am

    I’ve been searching the internet trying to find out what it is because the same thing happens to me. I sort of get lost while driving. I’ll be on the freeway and suddenly it’s like my brain shifts and nothing looks familiar. I’m not sure how to get home. Then about 15 – 30 seconds later my brain shifts back and I recognize where I am. The scary part is this has happened in my own home. I’ll be in the bathroom and suddenly everything looks different. It lasts several seconds and then it’s gone. It’s definitely not the same as “zoning out” while driving. I have no idea what this is or what causes it, but it’s very disconcerting. Has anyone experienced this?

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      5 June, 2017 / 10:09 am

      Gosh that DOES sound a bit scary and I can see what you mean about it being different from just zoning out. I’m not sure if it’s quite the same as what happened to me, as that was just a blank. Is it something that’s only started happening recently?

      • Sherrie
        5 June, 2017 / 7:42 pm

        No, the first time I remember it happening I was 16 and it lasted for several hours. Since then it just happens randomly and lasts less than a minute, but it’s scary when
        I’m driving!

        • Tasia
          6 June, 2017 / 7:31 pm

          Hi Sherrie this is exactly what happened to me a few days ago. I was taking my son to the train station a journey I do a few times a week for years when all off a sudden I had a brain storm I couldn’t recognise the road and didn’t know if I should turn right or left and was really panicking the more close I got to the junction as didn’t want to explain to my son I actually turned the right way and than realised where I was it lasted again like you just seconds but was so scary and I suffer with anxiety and it has made my anxiety really bad. I’ve had it twice before too once when I was about 15 in my home town I suddenly couldn’t figure out where I was it scared me enough to stay with me all these years. And again about ten years ago at traffic lights lol I suddenly couldn’t remember if red was Go or stop lol lasted a few seconds until penny dropped needless to say I had terrible anxiety with traffic lights for a while after that. I think it just might be being to absorbed in thoughts that cause this stress etc I have under active thyroid and also postmenopsusal none off this helps. Try not to worry it seems to happen to many off us women take care.

          • Jo Middleton
            Author
            7 June, 2017 / 12:32 pm

            I do sometimes get it too doing things like pulling up to roundabouts and totally forgetting which direction has right of way. It’s scary for a few seconds but I think you’re right, it’s probably just that we have so much information to process all the time, some of it is going to slip through from time to time!

          • Sherrie
            7 June, 2017 / 6:41 pm

            That’s exactly what happens to me! Sometimes it happens a few times a year, other times it happens a few times a week. It’s so strange! I also suffer from anxiety and Hashimoto’s, but like I said, this has been happening since I was 16. In fact, it happened the night of my 16th birthday. I figure it hasn’t gotten any worse, so not too much to worry about. I would like to know what the heck it is and what causes it though.

        • 24 June, 2017 / 7:30 pm

          Hi Sherrie,

          Wow! You have described exactly what I experience! I’ve had it for years too, definitely since I was a young girl (I’m 30 now) these “brain shifts” I used to experience a few a year but since giving birth I’ve been experiencing them every day. It’s like the atmosphere and familiarity of my surroundings has completely changed and it confuses me. It’s happened in my own home many times. It also happened the other day when I was driving. I literally for about 10 seconds had this shift in perception and totally forgot where I was and where I was going as everything was unfamiliar. I really panicked as you can imagine. Hence I’ve now google it to see if anyone else has experienced these weird shifts in perception too. If it’s any help I’ve recently been diagnosed with migraine with aura and since my last aura these brain shifts have become much more frequent. Whether it’s down to hormones (I’m currently breastfeeding) remains to be seen but I just had an mri scan for the aura’s which came back normal, so that’s a relief. I have experienced something called a simple partial seizure before where my eyes darted from side to side involuntarily. I wonder if these brain shifts are related. Google “simple seizures” It’s fascinating! Best wishes, Jen

          • 9 September, 2017 / 9:05 pm

            Hello! I’ve been reading these threads with interest because I have had similar experiences. Some of you may want to check out information on depersonalization/derealization, which affected me for years in my early twenties. It can also occur off and on due to stress and anxiety, and when having a panic attack. The tendency to freak out, because it is a scary thing, can lead to a worsening of it, as our minds zero in on those feelings, and magnifying any brief moment we may have where we feel like it may be happening. A lot of people find sensory focus to be helpful, such as rubbing the arm of your chair and describing the sensation, or describing the texture of the wall. A good overview can be found at the website I linked with my comment.

            It’s interesting though, because I have been having moments where I feel a weird sort of confusion for a second or two, and of course freak out that I have a brain tumor or early onset dementia (I’m 35), even though I know logically that it’s likely because I haven’t been in school or working for several months (waiting for licensure in counseling to be completed), and my brain tends to turn in on itself when it has too much idle time. The brain is a fascinating thing for sure.

  12. Sherrie
    26 June, 2017 / 10:16 pm

    Hi Jen,
    Interesting that you were diagnosed with migraines with aura as I was too, but those started about 20 years after my first episode of “getting lost”. It’s all so strange! I havent noticed anything bringing that on or making it more frequent. My biggest fear is that some day it’s not going to go away and I’ll have no idea how to get home.
    I’ll be sure and google simple seizures. Thanks for passing along that info!
    Take care,
    Sherrie

    • Jen
      11 September, 2017 / 2:24 pm

      Yes, I know what you mean. I have that fear too. Apparently the name for this odd brain shift we experience is called jamais vu, a feeling of unfamiliarity the opposite of deja vu which is the feeling of familiarity…perhaps it comes with the territory of migraine or perhaps it is seizure related as the two are very closely linked. All the best, Jen

  13. Jen
    4 August, 2018 / 9:42 pm

    Hi Michael,

    Sorry only just noticed you replied too!

    I definitely have derealization along with these brief episodes of jamais vu. It’s very strange. I must admit, the derealization is the most annoying of the two because it is constantly there. How did you manage to overcome it? I am waiting to take Nortryptiline for the silent migraine aura’s I experience so I’m hoping it will help bring me out of this disconnected fog. Do you have a history of migraine? So many similar stories I have read all seem to have migraine as a common factor. Jen

  14. Thalita
    6 August, 2019 / 9:33 pm

    I’m not sure when this page was posted, but I really need some advice. I struggle with the same problem (forgetting where I live, what’s my age, etc) almost daily, but I am 16, not pregnant, not a mom and I couldn’t find any info about this anywhere else. Help?

    • Jennifer
      8 August, 2019 / 5:49 pm

      Hi Thalita,

      Do you have any other symptoms along with the forgetfulness? It might be worth making an appointment with your doctor to investigate further. Many stories I have read linking forgetfulness to migraine and epilepsy conditions along with other things so always worth getting these things checked out.

      All the best,

      Jen

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