Writer fatigue is a funny beast. It makes you feel like the wires have crossed. You know what you want to say, but something quite different comes out. It’s almost as if the words with similar meaning are tossed into the bin, and my brain randomly pulls one out, looks at it, and goes, “Eh, good enough.”
For some reason, mine is lingering around. I shouldn’t be still having it – it’s been 3 weeks since we finished Magic Claims – but it keeps on. Normally, it goes away with rest, but I have rested enough.
It’s probably a combination of admin things, of which there were many recently, writing, research, and real life stress that comes with trying to navigate the loan system.
My pain is your gain. I present to you
Things Ilona Says When Tired.
Me: I need to vacuum my teeth.
Kid 1: Okay, mom.
Gordon: Did Baby go outside?
Me: Yes, Baby goed outside. Goed. I should be a writer or something.
Gordon: You should be.
Me: I need…
Me, thinking furiously about hot brown water and knowing that if I say that, the jokes will be endless: I need to get my… ::insert heroic effort:: tea.
Me: Worse comes to worst, we can remodel it. We can hire Debra. She’s a … ::painter manager, the person in charge of coloring and putting things, arranger person:: … an interior designer.
Me, staring at the search window on Amazon: Cloths, floor towels, water drying cushy things… come on, brain… … … bathroom rugs. Success.
And of course, this one is from the previous bout of this malady, but it’s still the best.
Me, exasperated with dog barking and darting under foot: Could we please refrigerate the small dog?
Me: Crate. I meant, could please crate the small dog?
May you have a productive Thursday.
PS. OMG, it’s Thursday already. How? Why?
Goed* is actually a word a dutch word it means GOOD
I’m so glad I’m not the only one this happens to. I do usually give up on finding the word though and let the other person feed it to me.
Me: Do you know where the… mechanical mixer, makes dough
Other Person: Beaters?
Me: Yeah! Do you know where the beaters are?
Moderator R says
Much brain fog happening this week.
Names are the worst.
“We need to call…begins with a P…what’s his face… Johnaford kind of name…Chris!”
Chris begins with a P = CRISPY :DDDDD. Were you hungry, Mod R?
Moderator R says
There is a valid reason why Chris begins with P – it’s that the long version is spelled Christopher, and I need to remember to spell it with a “ph” instead of “f” as I would in Romanian 😅
So in my nightmarish mental scape- Chris comes with “attention there’s a P”. And when the brain is not braining, that becomes “starts with a P”.
i have a family member whose name i kept forgetting but would tell people it sounds like/reminds me of/has something to do with strawberries… Therese.
Real reason was that child me was trilingual & heard Therese & thought very similar to fraise (french for strawberry).
For years (later) I couldn’t understand why I kept linking strawberry (in english as it’s my primary language now) with this name!
It’s just CRS–cannot remember (stuff), especially for seniors and/or people who speak/think in multiple languages.
Kathleen L Kaufmann says
It must be the weather? This is my post on fb from this week about names… I really DO have that button and I’ve been wearing it since 1979.
I think vacuuming your teeth gives refrigerating the small dog a run for its money.
Thank you so much for sharing!
Moderator R says
Vacuuming the teeth makes a delightful sort of sense though 😅. Especially when your mouth feels furry 😂
Patricia Schlorke says
At least Ilona didn’t say she is going to Hoover her teeth. 😀
My friends and I call it “lupie brain” (we all have lupus) – that’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it! 🤣
My daughter says “I can’t English right now” and that makes delightful sense.
Thank you! I’m so glad I’m not the only person that has this trouble.
I once wanted to say the word “puppy” but couldn’t bring it to mind and instead resorted to “juvenile canine unit.”
Patricia B. says
OMG! That’s brilliant! Our Pupper is now officially a “senior canine unit”
I needed that this morning, Thanks 🙂
Since we watched The Dragon Prince, coffee has forever become “hot brown morning potion” in my house. When I am so desperately in need of coffee that I can’t think of the word “coffee”, I can usually mumble “hot brown” and one of my teens or my husband will make sure it quickly, magically appears in front of me.
Stephanie Diaz says
I stick with military lingo: lifer’s juice.
Pam S says
There is a wonderful book called Legends and Lattes in which one of the characters encounters coffee for the first time and names it “hot bean water”. Laughed myself silly!
I often do this, I think one thing and I say another not knowing I called it the wrong thing. My husband calls me out on it and I vehemently deny it, cause of course I didn’t call the microwave the toaster or some such thing. Until my husband provides 3rd party confirmation, it’s his faulty ears’ fault.
But my worst thing is trying to type while thinking something else, the word I was thinking always gets typed. Lesson: Don’t try to multitask while typing.
Me before I have my morning coffee, ha ha. The other day I got annoyed when someone was ‘vacuuming’ the lawn so early in the day!
my dad has a neighbor that actually vacuums his lawn. he gets out there on his hands and knees with a shop vac and vacuums every square inch.
My mom vacuums the yard under the bird feeders, so what spills to the ground doesn’t attract rats/mice. But not the whole yard.
NANCY H says
We use a small shop vacuum on the horses on the blower cycle. It is great for getting rid of dust in their coat
The combo of OCD and too much time on your hands is a sad and terrible thing. 😕
Oh yeah. I remember after a HUGE writing project, I was just out of words. Don’t ask me to write an email. Don’t ask me to word. There were no words. I’m not even sure I could have come up with vacuuming the teeth. I felt like a cartoon character with an empty dialogue bubble.
Moderator R says
That’s the perfect way to put it!
+1 This…Two weeks of pneumonia meds and it’s all brain sludge at this point.
Ladies, we no sooner get over baby brain and then menopause brain strikes! Here’s to vacuuming our teeth and playing with baby canine units! 😂
Michelle Downing says
Those are the days that I say I can’t brain today. Running 2 stores and training new store managers means I can’t brain some days.
Hope the week gets better.
I have those days…there is a lot of hand gestures while I am trying to figure out what I want to say….as if wild hand gestures will help the person I am talking to figure out what I am trying to say. : )
I make turning/churning motions with my hand when I can’t get a word or sentence out. I like to think it provides that little bit extra brainpower.
I think of it as not having sufficient storage in my brain. My megabytes or whatever are filled up with old telephone numbers and things that happened in grade school and stories from the folks. Since I can’t add any storage, I just have to use what I’ve got.
And hand gestures are part of what makes my world go round too.
I get like this from migraine. Super. Fun.
yeah. Huge problem with my ADHD. Walks/hikes in nature usually help. Lots of research on the nature part. Might be worth a try.
I find this fascinating because a lot of the substitutes you use are modern kennings! Middle English uses a lot of them, I think I first learned about them reading Beowulf.
I always find the new combinations of words really interesting because it gives insight into the thought process like you wrote out for us.
But I hope the brain fog lets you go soon!
my go to is “that thing” then hand wave
Thanks Ilona for the good laugh
I don’t want to enjoy your confusion, but as you shared all these treasures with us, I will. This time. You probably need more rest. How about a change of scenery? What has helped in the past? Take care.
Susan Ivey says
I do that too!🤣🤣🤣🤣
Janet N Loughheed says
My family has never let me live down the day I say “My brain done gone mush.” Sometimes it is the most accurate thing to say.
Patricia Schlorke says
I said that too. Then I say “can you see it coming out of my ears?” I got the weird look from my mom after that. 🤣🤣
My favorite thing to do, rattle my head and “Yep. Still there. I can feel it sloshing around.” It will generally give me enough time to get the correct word.
Maria Schneider says
When I can’t get out of the tired writer brain, I go for a drive with the windows down and the music loud (Thanks Ashley McBryde!, Brad Paisely and Mark Knopfler!) Sometimes I take a hike. You can’t really do that in Texas at this time of year, but perhaps you can find a nice substitute to let your brain just go away!
(Chamomile tea is very good for brain rest too.)
Our poor old cat had a bunch of teeth removed by the vet yesterday. My day today has been spent trying to get pain meds into him. The latest attempts, partially successful, have been dosing him with doctored tuna juice with a tiny syringe. I’m covered in tuna juice. Time to refrigerate the cat! Haha…thanks for the laugh!
So many words, and sometimes they all want to come out at once, except the one you planned on/really want to use/means what you’re trying to say…
That word is on break/temporarily unavailable/playing hide-and-seek…
Amy Ann says
Hide-and-seek is so accurate. I get a glimpse of it peeking around the corner or out the side of my eye, but when I try to focus on it, it is gone. If I move on it usually pops up (Surprise!) a few seconds later.
Wonderful blog. Laughing at all the comments as they all pertain to times in my life, too. Now, just what character/s will the Andrews create to showcase this? Hmmm?
My family calls these moments brain farts. LOL
Post-Covid brain, post-chemo brain, post-not enough coffee brain. I’m working on the budget for our next fiscal year, which is why I’m scrolling through the blog….
Terrie C says
I am so glad the office is almost empty. I would not want to explain why I am laughing so hard there are tears in my eyes.
My youngest has ADHD and does this a lot. We started keeping a little log on the fridge for him. His therapist says it because his brain is going so fast with so many different thoughts, it often refuses to slow down to find the correct words even if he knows it.
Our latest are:
The time keeper on the wall – the clock
Purple sauce sandwich for his launch – grape jelly sandwich
Legend of the Storm Eagle – this one took us a minute but it was a Thunderbird.
Sometimes he giggles when we correct him and sometimes he will try to prove he is correct and argue that the words in use should be changed to what he says. 😂😂
Oh Ilona, I hope you have a small break from all this on a beach somewhere!
I’ve had a severe version of this as part of my long Covid. It’s miserable and hilarious in equal measure.
Sending support and appreciation. I hope it gets better over time.
I had a ‘mini-stroke’ and struggled with language for weeks, but is better now…but not fully resolved.
On the way home from the hospital, I was trying to tell my husband we needed to go to the medicine place.
For the life of me I could not come up with the word pharmacy. I kept swirling around the word with different concepts. My brain simply could not find it.
thanks so much, I needed that giggle, and I’m exactly the same.
For similar reasons my kids refer to any cup of tea I brew as “leaf broth.”
The other fun part of these word-fart episodes are the frantic, but mostly ineffectual, hand gesture charades I do while trying to find the word.
I just re-read a book where the main character called mint tea “minty grass”.
Yes, isn’t Bailey a hoot?! And she gets so delightfully flustered.
I love that whole series, but especially when she and Sam pop up.
Maria OToole says
And do NOT try to give her minty grass. She whines incessantly.
so this was happening to me a lot esp working on the lab and honest to god i thought it was a series of mini strokes for several weeks ect — anyway (and i’m not saying this as medical advice at all) but i started adding in a prenatal vitamin (because cheaper daily than most and the folic acid can help with cognitive issues)
It has really helped a month later — but i’m also neurodivergent so your milage may vary
Angela Anderson says
I call that “art brain”. It happens when I paint. I teach and when I’m in the flow of things, fully in right brain mode, I lose the ability to call up the names of things but I remember their uses. It is so weird.
“Arm Holes” – Sleeves
“Sticky Out Things” – Branches
“Leafy Bits” – Foliage
“Balls” – Christmas Ornaments (this one doesn’t seem that bad but I literally could not stop saying balls and I was really trying) 😆
Art brain is real!
Heidi Cothard says
I’m going to have to remember that … “Art Brain” !
In class we were to write a rhyming poem in 15 minutes. The perfect word I found was a British word pronounced just right with the correct number of syllables. The US equivalent’s spelling was different, so the pronunciation did not rhyme. I thought the poem met all my professor’s requirements. I was given a grade 2 (D) for not using the same language.
I complained and said, “The word is a Brit word.” The reply, “You are not a Brit.”
I did an accounting module really early in open uni where I used “nominal” to it’s dictionary meaning and got marked down because it’s an accounting term that we hadn’t been taught about used incorrectly. So much mad!
Judy Schultheis says
Some of yours are very descriptive. I don’t blame you for insisting your brain come up with the correct word for tea, though – I’ve had a few brain farts that people STILL haven’t forgotten. The last one they joke about was, I’d take my oath in court, TWENTY YEARS AGO.
I found out when I went to get my grandson to deliver him to school that my secondborn and her husband were at my firstborn’s place. They have a wedding they have to go to in Seattle tomorrow.
OMG hilarious. I’m still laughing. (Yes, out loud, while at my desk!) I was having a sort of blue day, and that completely turned my mood around. Thanks for sharing!
Oh my gosh. SO relatable. I need the thing. You know, the thing that you use with the thing, you know, the brrrrrr swirly swirly thing 🙄
Also, when I was much younger, my mom used to say “just spit it out on the wall and let me read it”. God I miss that woman.
Eleanor W says
Wonderful word play – all. Last time that happened to me with strangers was Christmas dinner. When I get excited I lose descriptive words. I got so flustered at one point I said, I lost my English. The person next to me said, try it in another language. Laughter ensued. (I only know a little French and Spanish – it didn’t help. ) Thanks for the giggles!
Thank you for making me laugh until I snorted!
This just made me think of Darmok from Star Trek. 😀
Moderator R says
Shaka, when the walls fell.
Such a great episode!
Tamak! The river Tamak! In winter!
I wonder if it is second language issue too – I speak and think in three languages and some times it gets all messed up (French, German and English), thankfully when that happens my immediate family knows exactly what I am saying/meaning.
Rob the Fiend says
I read a lot of books written in English, so sometimes I forget what things are called in my native (Swedish) language.
So very annoying.
Cymru Llewes says
I get tripped up on the V2 rule in Swedish. It makes sense for questions but not statements in my mind. Also “om” trips me up. if, about, and I am certain there is another English preposition it takes the place of.
I had a friend get so tired when he needed to eat that he couldn’t remember the word utensils for a knife and fork, (english was a second language). What came out was “food weapons”.
When this happens to me I spend a few hours thinking in another language. Or I watch a foreign language film but I don’t use subtitles. It’s some sort of a weird reboot for my brain. It doesn’t have to be a language I totally understand, just Latin based. No idea why it helps but it does.
I do this too. I tend to substitute ground for floor and vice versa (not in relation to hotels, like the floor in your house). And others like that. I don’t even have the excuse of English not being my first language! I think you brain very well. 🤗
Patricia Schlorke says
I hear you, Ilona, on the brain that keeps on going even when you stop. I get that way when I’m figuring out math and statistical methodology.
Someone asked me what do the mean, median, and standard deviation mean? I told them: mean=average of numbers, median= the middle number of a data set, and standard deviation is someone who is a deviant. 🤣🤣🤣🤣
Then I realized what I said about standard deviation and laughed so hard I had tears running down my face. This was when I was working on my dissertation and working through some complex statistical analysis.
Standard deviation is actually how far data points are away from the mean (average). 😎
I hear ya! And thanks for a good belly laugh and a feeling of solidarity with Ilona and other occasionally-challenged-mad-language-skills members of the BDH!
Johanna J says
Oh, my gosh. This is my life everyday. 😂 😂 Every. Day. Thanks for your posts.
Bill G says
Thank you, these are great. An early computer game where I occasionally blundered around had, among much other things, boxes to be found and some had useful books. I was not allowed to forget it, when I one day declared I was looking for ‘bookses in boxes’.
This sounds kinda Gollumish. “It has bookses, my precious, yes it does. Bookses in boxes!”
As you age, you can look forward to this happening more and more frequently. At 72, I sometimes break my heart because I can’t put words where they need to go. I love to read because I love words. I just keep telling myself it could be worse. Your blog made me laugh though. Thank you.
I usually end up substitute the word Things for whichever word goes awol (yes, you can totally hear that capital when I say it 😉), so much so that it’s become a running gag between me and my colleague 😂
I feel ya. Rest and recuperate!
When my brain gets baked (when I haven’t slept in a few days), I will talk backwards. Maybe I can fake it that I’m doing a Yoda impersonation. Yeah, ticket that is.
Kate Thompson says
I am sorry for your pain but this truly made me smile, if not chortle. While crating works for dogs, it’s not too successful with cats. I usually am bleeding by the time I manage it. Do you suppose refrigeration would work? Probably not. Oh well. The one thing that working as a journalist teaches is that you can never have writers’ block. You just write anyway and hope for coherent prose and a good editor. Doesn’t always happen – sometimes they just print your bad stuff anyway.
Diane J Velasquez says
I am so grateful to see that you also have this problem. The only thing worse is when twin sis does not read my mind and KNOW what I mean.
Michelle C says
This was great for some laughs!!! I am also commiserating with you. This happens to me when I reach critical mass in a stressful situation (aka, a typical Thursday). Best wishes on the return of your words!
OMG. I do that all the time. I worry that it is caused by my old age. 😞 Now what was I trying to say? (I’ve only had to redo this post 3 or 4 times.
Mary Cruickshank-Peed says
My youngest son has a language processing disorder, so this is a regular thing in his life. His brain pops up random words. Sometimes they start with the same letter, sometimes they’re in the same class of words. Sometimes they’re words he read and doesn’t know how to say. Sometimes they’re synonyms. Sometimes they’re just the wrong word.
So I guess.
“What’s that stuff?”
“No, mom. The purple stuff. In the cold thing in the room with the back door. Tastes like flowers and chinese food.”
The iced tea I just made in the refrigerator?
“That’s WHAT I SAID.”
Ginger hibiscus tea.
The longer he talks, the more words he loses. That situation, he lost “iced tea” “Kitchen” and “ginger”
And now that I’m post menopausal, he and I spend a lot of time talking about “stuff” and trying to communicate telepathically because we have the picture but the words are gone.
Hah this is me so often these days – always a sign my perimenopausal hormones are having a party!
This is me! I always forget the word for laundry basket (“the thing people put dirty clothes in”).
Omg I utterly love ‘refrigerate the small dog’!! Hang in there!
Patti (@thelovejunkee) says
I was at the movies with my husband this weekend and asked him to do the “popcorn juice” (butter) while I did the drinks 🙂
Lol! I feel a little better knowing that someone as smart and talented as you are does that, too.
I usually end up staring at my hunny in frustration trying to come up with the perfectly normal word that jumped out of my brain and ran off to join the circus 🎪
ADHD has entered the chat. (this isn’t meant to be a diagnosis, but as a woman who is diagnosed late in life with ADHD, this is a very familiar feeling.)
My 9 yr old has ADHD and does it often too.
I think “refrigerate the small dog” makes perfect sense. Put him in the box (crate) to chill out …
Not as bad when you want to say ‘Hi Sara’ but cannot because you know that is not Sara’s name. Her name is Eloise. Weekend is coming rest up time
Sue Nagata says
I did that with a medication name. Nurse asks me what meds I’m allergic to. My mind is blank. I tell her it is an antibiotic used by the urgent care. I think the name starts with an A… All of a sudden, I remember that the med is called Rocephin. Not sure exactly how my brain leapt from a completely wrong letter to the right one 🙂
Kat in NJ says
Too funny! Of course, I laugh at this, knowing full well that this just sounds like a normal Tuesday in my house (no writer fatigue required!)
I showed this to my daughter and upon reading the last example, she said “well, that’s one way of taking out the dog.” 😂
Have a great day, and thank you for the giggles!
Mary Beth says
Oh, I’ve had ‘writer brain’ for a few weeks now.
Me: **stares at the pantry** “Honey? Where are the squiggles?”
Hubby: “In the dictionary.”
Me: “No…the dried squiggles.”
Hubby joining me by the pantry, checking my forehead. “If you mean the ramen noodles, I put those over the stove. You may need an ice pack.”
Me, making grumpy cat face. “Well, they ARE dried squiggles.”
Hilarious but also get your vitamins D and B12 checked—being low on either can have the effect on memory/articulation that you’re describing. I did not read all the comments prior to suggesting this so apologies if it has already been mentioned. Looking forward to Magic Claims!
thanks for the chuckles!
Laura Martinez says
OMG. That happens to me all the time. Doesn’t help that English is not my first language either. The I start speaking Spanish to my husband, who doesn’t speak a word of Spanish.
It’s truly that sort of Thursday and I had the same Thursday thought!
Also, dentists sort of vacuum teeth, so you get a pass on that one even being a possibility. 😆
thank you for a lovely laugh today
Joann K says
It must be so much fun inside your head
Oh it’s not just writers who suffers from that… it also happens to exhausted engineers! I have been like that for the latest months now… my family is good at guessing by now what I really wanted to say
Sarah P says
I have that but blame my 1yo.
I suggest a real vacation. Colorado is beautiful and not hot right now. There are many rentals with hot tubs. It’s still shoulder season (cheapest time to visit).
I loved the Maggie clip, hope to see the full story someday 🙂
I’ve said very similar sentences , the one my children won’t let me forget;
“ what’s his name?, you know the one that’s my last , the boy I had, the youngest? “ 🙈
Mum used to go through every kid’s name in birth order (she had five), and then tack “George, Jim, Jack!” on the end for good measure. 😂 We could usually work out which child she actually needed , eventually.
Robin De Tota says
My mom would start with us 4 kids, then she would name the grandkids, then our dogs. You knew it was bad when she would name the dead dogs and finally she would just yell at us” you know who you are so just get over here” 😛
My mom would start with the correct kid name, think she had the wrong one, go down the line in order, then end up back at the start. She only had 3 kids, but we learned to wait a beat before responding to make sure she was done.
I once asked for “… that tiny bowl on a handle that you use to put food in your mouth…” or SPOON.
Oh, and also told my husband once, at sunrise, “The lights are coming on outside”
Rorie Solberg says
My colleagues, after 20 years, are used to me walking into their office saying, “I need a word.” I can say what the word should be doing or other words that are not quite right, and they helpfully, usually, supply what my brain is not finding at the time.
Sounds like we pretty much all have that issue, at one time or another. It’s endemic in my family, getting worse as we age. Luckily, my sisters or daughters generally know what I mean by “the whatchamacallit” or “the thingamajig” (“thingie” for short). I do get a bit worried when I can’t retrieve the words “whatchamacallit” or “thingamajig,” though, and am reduced to handwaving and incoherent noises.
When I just utterly stall on a word or (all the time!) a name, I know it will come back to me when I’m not trying to remember it. Try telling people that when you’re trying to have a conversation, stall, and 5 minutes after the topic shifted, you randomly shout out “porcelain berry” or what ever it was.
OMG thank you for sharing your struggles! I am so glad I am not the only one who struggles to English when their brain is done. Sometimes, when it has been a busy brain day, week, month, I want to engage with someone and have no words (like someone else said with the empty dialog box). It gets incredibly awkward and then I have the dilema of should I stay and continue the awkward or just walk away 🙄
I have the same issues , sometimes worse, sometimes not too bad. My husband generally figures it out after I blurt out a few random words trying to describe” that thingy- you know, that thing that I need “. I also reverse words but apparently that may be from being forced to learn English quickly to be allowed to pass into second grade. Luckily, kids and grandkids figure it out.
Always nice to see that other people’s brains refuse to brain properly as well. 🙂
Refrigerate small 🐶.😂😂😂😂😂😂😂
This is Not about Ilona or Gordon: for the last two years, I have been reading a bunch of new authors and they just don’t measure up. Maybe if I had never read Ilona Andrews, I wouldn’t have such high expectations? In self-defense, I am doing a lot of rereading to “cleanse my palette.” I have been reading Innkeeper, CJ Cherryh, and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, for example. Quantity just gets boring after a while because the newbies are only repeating themselves.
Slow down, rest, drink brown water! You are SO worth waiting for! Besides, word retrieval a is problem we all have periodically. I need to vacuum my teeth, too. lol
Thanks for being real! I really needed today’s giggle!
I loved these and I’m thankful that I am not alone! So funny, this made my day! Thanks🥰
Debbie Hunt says
I know I am not in any way a medical doctor but this is from personal experience. I was having this exact issue, along with some brain fog that nothing seemed to help. Finally identified that I had hyper-parathyroidism but was also told that my symptoms were only seen a minority of the time for this issue and was treated for low vitamin D and high blood calcium. Finally, when treating these symptoms didn’t change anything, I had the surgery. I was fine after waking up from outpatient surgery. Hormones from the parathyroid issue caused the symptoms! These symptoms can be from hidden causes – not just stress. Take care of yourself!
CJ Smith says
I hope you have a slow, relaxing weekend. Knit, needlepoint or do something crafty to engage your brain in a different way. When I get really tired, I can’t find the words either or I talk “backward” and put my words in the wrong order.
A shameful favourite of mine.
Me: ::flailing my hands in the air in a shape roughly the size of a piece of paper::
Sister: That’s not enough.
Me: The thing that you make when you want a job.
Sister: Resume? (Said with the sort of laughing sympathy that one might receive if one tripped and fell into a kiddie pool.)
Me: Yes. That thing.
Martha A says
I laughed hard at this and can definitely relate. We call this phenomenon, “Toast” moments in our house. My husband and I are both in the medical field (he’s a paramedic and I’m a nurse). In 2017 he had a series of strokes. We are blessed that he was able to come back from them with very little damage or deficits. However one of the few deficits remaining is a slight dysphasia. When it comes to his work, he is a fantastic medic, always thinking fast, never missing a beat, doing complex pharmaceutical drug calculations in his head and saving lives. But at home, he could pick up his coffee mug and call it “toast” or forget the word entirely. So now when either of us are fatigued, stressed, or just in a plain brain fog, we automatically replace the errant word with “Toast”. Somehow we always know exactly what the other meant and what the word should have been. I hope your Writers fatigue gets better, and if it doesn’t, it’s okay… you are not alone! Toast! 😉
**Side note – I’ve never posted before but consider myself a proud member of the BDH and an Ilona and Gordon fan for years. “Thank You” from our house to yours, for giving us smiles, laughs, and the enjoyment of your professional and personal stories over the years and especially during the height of the pandemic.
Moderator R says
Welcome to the comment section 🤗
Also my mum has a habit of substituting words that are similar in nature. Dishwasher and clothes washer are interchangeable, as are lawnmower and snowblower. This leads to requests for me to remove my clothes from the dishwasher and her telling me that we need to make sure that the lawnmower has enough fuel (in a Canadian February).
My mom calls all digital messages ‘texts’. So shell send me an email and ask me why I haven’t responded to her text.
Me: I didn’t get it.
Mom: I sent it earlier today.
Me: I didnt get a text from you today.
Mom: About dinner on Sunday…
That’s my life all the time. I feel the pain! Fortunately (unfortunately?) my daughter has learned to speak “mom”.
OMG my last 6 months have been like this – I have been going with perimenopause brain fog – its a real thing. I sent a video to hubby asking how to turn bbq off. Turns out I had to turn the gas knob the other direction
Brain fog is the worst! I’ve undergone a lot of life change in the last one year (including moving halfway across the world from a tropical to temperate climate, got hit with covid for the first time and also emerged on the other side of the pandemic suddenly approaching my 40s) so I haven’t been able to isolate why my own brain fog has been getting worse but I’m trying a combination of different remedies (caveat: this is very much a work in progress so no definitive conclusion on results). 1) increasing my protein intake (target of 70-80g a day or 30g every meal) 2) keeping my supplements up (I take a combination of multi vits – I like Doterra’s vitality pack – together with additional magnesium, probiotics as well as adaptogens – chaga, cordyceps lions mane in the morning and reishi at night) 3) getting regular exercise in. Good luck Ilona! May the brain fog/ writer’s fatigue subside soon!
Sydney girl says
me: “Do you know where the thing is? You know the thingy? The thing we put in the box? You know the box that pulls out? The one we put stuff in?”
husband/kids: “Do you mean the garbage bags?”
It seems the BDH gets ya on this one…..
I’ve done this one. Thing you put things in. Always descriptive.
The human brains are so complicated, there are more neurons in a brain than there are stars in the Milky Way (our galaxy)! It’s no wonder being tired, working hard, slightly different wiring, being hungry or various chemicals, in my case the drugs I have to take to control pain, can mess up it’s workings. Some of my attempts to get the correct word – I desperately try to give my listener enough descriptive words for them to identify what I at that moment can’t – have become our regular usage, the whizzer of course (food processor), hand whizzer (stick blender), fish (hot chocolate with malted milk drink – no idea how that one happened!) and more that I can’t remember, but are too often brought to my notice when I use them with someone who is not my OH and *that* look, you know the one . . . I am soooooo lucky with my OH.
My grandpa used to say “my tongue got in the way of my eye tooth, and I couldn’t see what I was saying”….😆🙃😆
I’ve been working on word finder puzzles lately, and when the game says *nope, not a word*, I say *yes it is* only to realize it’s German or Latin (from singing in chorus for seventeen years) or Spanish from high school and college classes. Should count! Grumble, grumble, grumble….
This started happening to me when I hit 40. I write all day for my job. The words used to be RIGHT THERE. And then suddenly it was like they were obscured. Concepts instead of specific words.
So frustrating and but, yes, often funny for those around me.
Thanks for the laugh! I can relate and appreciate you sharing.
I feel so much better knowing it’s not just me. I even explain the phenomenon with the same bucket analogy!
My favourite example of this is a perpetually sleep deprived friend who asked for the “pasta stay, water go” one night while cooking dinner. He needed the colander.
William B says
I can relate, my wife was born and raised in the Philippines. She has three languages mixed up in her brain, Tagalog, the National Language, Ilocanol, her province language, and English, the language used in education. Sometimes when she is tired she gets stuck between the three. I tell her to just stay it and then we’ll figure out what it means.
You need vacation! Doctor’s ordors!!!!
Come to grandpa Leon’s home town to do some “research”. I’ve got a comfy spare room you could borrow. There is a spa not far away and historic sites like the Château Frontenac.
Simply put: my brain has too many tabs open.
Gail Siegel says
I have always said that words (when you’re having aphasia) are like cats: If you think too loudly at the word and demand it appear, it will hide. If you look away, and pointedly ignore your need for the word, it will appear. Don’t think about it! No eye contact!
Michelle Perrin says
I’m glad this happens to other people too! Hang in, rest up and give your brain a break.
Sharon Leahy says
Smiles, sometimes it takes me a while to remember how to spell words … simple words … but what you’re describing reminds me of “Spoonerisms” … smiles, have you read about that? And, then there’s Yogi Bera’s great comments … some times the equipment is just waiting for the oil to get spread out to all the gears before the machinery runs smoothly again … rest will do it … rest, and that lovely brown stuff in cups that smells so wonderful …
Melisa M. says
I find it happens to me a lot more now that I’m a mom of 2 kids. It must be connected to the fact that rest a lot less haha. But I swear some days my brain just cannot produce words.
Ilona, you described it perfectly….it’s like I can give you a full crazy offbeat description of what I want or mean but not the word or phrase itself!
And the more annoyed I get when ppl don’t understand me the worse the description gets lol.
I have said just in the past 2 weeks:
1. long toothpaste stick= toothbrush
2. The thing that you wash with! It lives under the sea!= sponge
3. You know you glug glug glug….= cup
I am an admin at an Adult Ed center that teaches English classes to refugees and immigrants. I often need to switch back and forth between English, German, and Spanish (my only other languages at this point). Everyone always says that they can tell how well my day is going by how many times I have to use my hands to describe what I’m talking about. My most common hand gestures are apparently “snipping” two fingers together for “sizzors” and “clapping” one hand for”stapler”.
I also sometimes will be speaking Spanish and insert a German word or vice versa. Since English is my native language people thing this is so weird, but my brain knows I want a “foreign word” and pulls it up in whichever comes first.
This is actually a thing! I thought it was just my brain being weird but I read a linguistic study that proved that’s the way it works. When you can’t remember a word from your third language, your brain inserts the word from your second, not your first. This confused the heck out of my high school French teacher because I would stick Chinese words into my sentences.
well hubby thought the word loss was funny till it hit him
speaking to each other is like playing charades..no winners
this spring we are blaming it on the heavy tons of pollen
Fatigue is fatigue. Have you added in the “extra” little stressors you have been dealing with lately? It is all cumulative, your body doesn’t sort mental, physical, & emotional stress in separate categories. So three weeks may not yet be enough downtime to bounce back. You may also need to do more of those things which help you recharge.
It is important to remember that you are human, not a machine. Don’t feel bad if you need more time, you have been doing a lot, be good to yourself, you’ve earned it.
This happens to more people than you might think. Some just cover it up better. I should not have read this so late at night. Now have the giggles. And now starting to yawn. Time to sleep then read this again she I wake.
Linda Trainor says
yes I get you I know that I ment to say but it didn’t come out .
I was in a fitness class one day and the coach was having trouble getting the right words out…..so I replied with a heap of blah blah sounds and then “What’s up doc” (as in bugs bunny, I may have even mimed crunching the carrot)
I timed it Perfectly! Everyone lost it 😂
The coach even had to admit it was well done. But pretty he didn’t fluff his words afterwards.
CM Rod says
The only time this has happened to me, was when I lost my senses of taste and smell after my mom died. When I was able to eat I could only taste sweet foods. So, of course thats all I ate. I sugar bombed my body. I was grieving so I deserved all the desserts. After months of joint pains and brain fog and worrying about dementia, I figured out what was happening and stopped eating sugar. What a difference! I miss vanilla yogurt. Too much sugar.
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Ugh, that sounds so frustrating! Didn’t y’all’s house get a new roof in the last month or so? I don’t know if your body is going to count the rest you did during that time… the noise must have been incessant. 😳
I’m so glad I’m not the only person this sort of thing happens to. Although my particular talent seems to be for spoonerisms. You know, like Par Cark. My favourite so far is: Hocked and Shorrified.
i’ve started telling people that call me after 4PM at work that it’s too late in the day for my brain to work and i’ll have to check into things and call them later. i also have the wrong word thing going, but i have a sister with early onset altzheimers so it’s freaking me and the other siblings out cause they’re doing it too.
Ann C. says
Ha! I’m always saying; “I need a noun!” Noun’s just disappear from my brain to show up at some random time. Ugh!
Covid fog brain sayings this week-
They left …bird leafs on the deck (or feathers)
We need to trim back the, ummm… string plants (or vines)
Lets just make it on the meat thing, the fire thingy (or BBQ)
My favorite phrase that my husband and I adopted from Brooklyn99, that we need to make better mouth, or make better brain.
My vocabulary is shrinking, due to my aging brain I guess — I’m not a writer. And saying “How do you say it in English?” can only get you by maybe a couple of times before people start looking at you funny. I try to fill in the brain gap by searching for synonyms. Then once I have, that my brain will sometime later — minutes to hours — recall the word that I was looking for.
omg I do this…. I need to change careers, and start writing. Because my students have often been regaled with something like, get that flat edge, strait line thing out… (ruler)
This is me. Sometimes I panic and act out or explain what I need. It’s like a game of charades, too.
Me: *going for a bath* Have you seen … my …
Me: *blank mind but having strong sense I can’t leave the bathroom without it*
Me: What do you need when you take a bath to make sure you won’t drip water everywhere and people won’t see you naked?
Roommate: A towel?
Me: YES OMFG! Have you seen my towel? 🤦🏻♀️
My mom is similar. When she needs something done by one of her kids, she goes through all of our names, plus her siblings who are living miles away and the cats names, dead or alive.
Word finding is a b*tch. I had serious problems w it after my coma and still when I get tired and I’ve been talking a lot, it gets painfully bad and I pull crap like that non freaking stop. So I feel you. And I hope your brain decides to cooperate again soon.
Andrea Frankel says
I loved these! I have fibromyalgia and ME/CFS, and there are whole Facebook pages devoted to creative things we come up with when we cannot brain because the word server is down.
Food weapons (cutlery, silverware)
Food catalog (trying to ask for a menu)
Liquid zoo (aquarium- I have actually seen an aquarium with this name)
and my all-time favorite from a family outing to the fair: Meat Twinkie (she really wanted a corn dog, and refused to give in to fibrobrain)
I think refrigerating the micro pupper makes perfect sense – you may have been thinking that the furbaby needed to chill out!
Heidi Cothard says
It was very brave and generous of you to share your writer fatigue moments with us. I have to say, even with writer fatigue, love your narrative! Thank you.