Monday, February 16, 2009

signs of overwork

Ok, I know it's a low point in the business world and I should be grateful to have a job right now. But I have SO much work at the moment that I think I'm actually going crazy.

Some examples.

Today, I called my typesetter to apologize--I hadn't received a manuscript from a copy editor and knew I was running about a week behind schedule. When I called him, he told me I had sent the manuscript last week, that he'd already typeset it, that in fact I had approved the pages and sent them out. Zero. Recollection.

Coming home from work, I flipped open my phone to see a missed call from my mother. I called her back. She answered the phone singing "Mamma Mia" (as she has done since that fateful day Dadrat changed her ringtone) and then said, "What?"

"You called me," I said.

"No, you called me," she said.

"Yeah, but I'm returning your call."

"Oh boy," she said. "You know you returned my call 10 minutes ago?"


"Yes! Remember? I asked you if you were feeling better, you said a little, and I told you to go home and go to sleep!"

I didn't remember. Zero. Recollection.

"You're losing it," she told me. "Go home and take a nap."

I gotta admit, that was scary.

This morning, I was talking to a very good friend/agent I work with who happens to be based on the West Coast. "Are you coming to BEA this year?" I asked. (Perhaps unsurprisingly at this point) she said, "You just asked me that about five seconds ago."

Last story (for now), and perhaps the worst. I was talking with the Rally Monkey about cars (as one does), and he mentioned the Ford Pinto. Something started to bug me--a recent conversation. Then I remembered vividly--riding in the back of a car and seeing a really old, beat-up Ford Pinto that looked like it was maybe a 1972 model. I remembered laughing about it with the friends I was driving with. But I couldn't remember who the friends were. For the life of me. So then I tried to think about where I was last weekend that I might have seen a Ford Pinto. I didn't think it was New York. But I couldn't--for the life of me--remember where I was last weekend. I didn't have the vaguest idea. I had to ask the Monkey, who thought I was joking.

"You have too much on your mind right now," he said. "Too many deadlines and too much stress. Don't worry, things will get better as your obligations clear up. And worrying will only make it worse."

That all sounds well and good. But how old is old enough for early onset Alzhemier's? Seriously.


Susan said...

It could well be overwork and stress. I was forgetting things this time last year; I'd even forget I was talking and stop mid-sentence so that whoever I was talking to would say, "What?" and I'd say "What?"... it was awful.

Eventually I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, but if you don't have any other symptoms than forgetfulness, I'd just relax a few days to see if it clears up, and see a doctor if it doesn't. There might be a simple fix for it (hopefully a vacation!)

Alice Kildaire said...

Sounds like you are definitely in need of a vacation!!

I do the same thing. My grandmother thinks it's hilarious when I call and then can't remember why I called, forget my aunt's name, or repeat a conversation we just had an hour earlier.

I always know it's bad when I start running around the house looking for my glasses and am just about to panic when my son says, "um, Momma, they're ON your FACE!" oops!

Ann Victor said...

Take a rest, MoonRat, take a rest. Believe me. You need it.

Kim Kasch said...

It's when your brain is overloaded. It's like a computer - you're data dumping - I do it all the time.

I used to remember everything - now I'm a post-it Queen. What did we do before those miraculous memos were posted all around?

Janet Reid said...

So, Moonie my dear, when can I expect those contracts for the book you just offered on?

You don't remember the phone call?

That's ok, I have notes.


Rachel said...

It could just be sleep deprivation and stress. :) I sort of recall doing a lot of this kind of thing when I had my first kid--I can't remember clearly--there are about six months there that are really hazy. But I wouldn't go worrying about permanent memory problems unless you're having the same symptoms when you're well-rested and de-stressed.

jalexissmith said...

that is disturbing. take care of yourself.

Word verification: sad patio

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Nope, not Alzheimers, I promise - just toooooo much stress - been there, done that and it is scary. You need a break, Moonie!

freddie said...

It really just sounds like stress. You sound way overtaxed right now. Hope you're able to get some rest soon . . .

Chris Eldin said...

Moonie, you are overworked, but probably also sleep-deprived.
If you know this is going on, try to take better care of yourself.

CT said...

I'm stressed and overworked, and now I'm sick. I blame it on the stress.

I melted down yesterday and cried because I had freelance jobs up my wazoo and in-house projects that needed my undivided, more than 9-to-5 attention. But then I realized that I AM lucky to have a job in an industry I like, so I sucked it up.

I still don't feel well though.

Jo said...

I have two kids under six so this is very familiar. You have to get enough sleep and you probably aren't because your mind is going a million miles a minute. Look after yourself. Carve out precious pockets of Moonie time everyday where you try and focus on nothing. And take a vacation when it's all over!

Sara J. Henry said...

Sleep. You need sleep - solid Stage 4 sleep. NO computer work or TV for at least two hours before bedtime. Take a very hot bath about 30 minutes before bedtime, have a protein snack, read something calming (this means mindless - like a favorite novel you've read before), and lights out. Count backwards from 500 by 10s. Repeat sequence the next day.

I used to write and edit health books. Which means (a) I know this stuff and (b) I had plenty of reason to try out these remedies.

PS - love that Momrat answers phone singing Mamma Mia.

Karen C said...

Oh yeah, stress will short your brain out. Particularly long-term-no-break-in-sight-shoot-me-now stress.
I've got three kids with three sets of special ed paper work, two medic alert bracelets (got a discount on the second one), and if that weren't enough, my oldest daughter now has a "boyfriend". The only normal thing she's done in her entire life and it had to be a boy.

I constantly stop midsentence, wondering what I was just saying.
The more stress, the more I get stuck.

Take a break if you can. Take your vitamins (because I'll bet you forgot to eat). And get better because I need your blog to get me through my stress filled day. :)

Justus M. Bowman said...

Wow...hope things get better.

writtenwyrdd said...

Once when I was in college the then-hubs and I were driving to the nearest town with a grocery store (Portsmouth New Hampshire, as it happened) and I couldn't recall which direction to go on the highway. At all. No recollection.

It happens. At the time I was quite unhappy and depressed in addition to working midnights full time and taking 22 credits in school and maintaining a high enough average to be on the Dean's List.

I think that you, like me then, are suffering from being tired.

I also thought I had Alzheimer's or something before I got the sleep apnea treated. It's amazing how being tired affects your brain.

I read about a study that came up with a comparison between exhaustion and alcohol consumption, and being short of sleep is like tying one on in terms of brain function.

Anonymous said...

don't sweat the Alzheimer's thing. You've been sick and you're stressed. Your mind is tired. Give it a rest and stop worrying. It happens. Also, maybe you're just ADD? Just kidding on the ADD. Listen to your mom. Get. Some. Rest. Now.

Crimogenic said...

Overwork and stress is a killer combination. It does odd things to your body. Good news, you're get better, you just need a break :)

nightsmusic said...

I do that all the time too. I don't worry about it anymore.

If you forget where you put your car keys, it's stress. If you forget what they're for, it's Alzheimer's.

You have stress :)


JES said...

Still laughing at Janet R's comment...

Have you forgotten your way home yet? Suddenly come to, as it were, and realized you were in Scarsdale instead of Manhattan? Ordered two entrees instead of--- okay, bad example.

Anyhow, unless your booming workload is due to your editing everything twice, I would counsel calm.

But oooooh, my word verif is (no lie) not nonsense: trial.

Which is another way of reassuring an editor in ways that I imagine you reassure yourselves: eventually, you'll come to the end of the sentence.

Jill Myles said...

Wait, everyone doesn't function like this on a regular basis? I know I'm constantly asking the same question over and over again (drives my husband batty).

Of course, I've always been a total scatterbrain...

(isn't there some vitamin that helps with this stuff? ginko biloba or something?)

Kristan said...

"But how old is old enough for early onset Alzhemier's? Seriously."

I ask myself that several times a day... o_O

Charles Gramlich said...

I have some of that going on right now too. I'm just being pulled in too many different directions.

Kaytie M. Lee said...

Sounds to me like you need to eat breakfast with protein in it. Yogurt on whole grain cereal, omelet, even a peanut butter sandwich would help!

It took me a long time to get used to eating breakfast at all, but once I did I had consistent brain power again and it kicked up my metabolism.

...just a thought. It sounds to me like you aren't getting enough good food calories. If you're really worried, though you should see a doctor.

Feel better soon!

Kaytie M. Lee said...

Clearly I haven't had my own breakfast yet--I wrote "sounds to me like" twice in one post!


Maria said...

You remind me of a busy friend that is often multi-tasking. She really thought she could read her email and respond while talking to me and keep track of both. Then later, she doesn't remember half of what she said and most of what I said. It isn't that she means to be rude, it's just that she checks this one thing or sees an email come in...even if she doesn't open it.

Sometimes it would happen while we were talking when her kids were around. She'd be talking/listening, but her attention (at least half of it) was on the kids running circles around her. She had to make sure they didn't spill anything, eat anything deadly or kill each other. Just a huge split of her concentration...

Silicon Valley Diva said...

I does sound like you are over-worked and stressed. I never worked in publishing but I used to work around the clock so I can relate.
Relax! I know, easier said than done LOL.
Can you hire an intern or something to help with the grunt work?

I hope you get some help.

Whirlochre said...

The problem with brainfry (apart from the rising cost of the cooking oil) is that every wordbleepthingpersonpostitpage gains full access to your sensorium, screeching NOW, IMMEDIATELY and DO DO DO.

And it's hard to resist.

It's not always possible to put everything down and jet off/vacation/bury your head in a fridge, but when I take my hourly five, I'm ruthless, selfish and utterly unashamed about it. Five to spare the 55 rather than a blur of hours lost.

Oh — and hats. Lots of silly hats.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

Your brain is full. Things are bound to fall out.

You're also probably coming down with a cold or something.

Stuart Neville said...

In my medical opinion, it appears you have a condition commonly known where I come from as: The Head-Staggers.

The only cure is beer.

Helen said...

you could try a ginkgo biloba supplement. From the lovely folks at wikipedia - "Ginkgo has many alleged nootropic properties, and is mainly used as memory[19] and concentration enhancer, and anti-vertigo agent." It's not good if you have serious problems, but I used it in uni and it had some effect. possibly placebo, but that's still something, right?

can I also say, thanks for having word verification technology that's actually readable! most of them do horrible things to my eyes and brain...

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Drop by Janet Reid's digs... Both ya meet me in Arkansas. I know a great new mud-hole, late night, we'll take my boat and shoot carp and gar with bow and arrow -- calms a body/mind to zero mph!

Haste yee back ;-)

BuffySquirrel said...

Looks like items in short-term memory are getting dropped. Chocolate and sleep :).

Ello said...

Welcome to my world! The wolves are after me and I forgot my medication...

cindy said...

ford pinto sightings!! woooo! =D oh moonie. *hugs* you are def super stressed or pregnant. =) totally kidding about the latter, but that's how i was ... ha!

Deb said...

Not TOO hot a bath, IMO. Can dry out the skin, which in winter is yet one more stressor. Cocoa or anything with warm milk in it, right before sleep, gets me 8 hours of the restful stuff.

Good sleep, nutritious food, plus pamper yourself just a little, even if it's only for 5 minutes.

Verification word: Jim Feidi, a buddy of mine who has memory lapses too.

Ulysses said...

Hmm. It seems the consensus is that you're stressed.

Good. I am also stressed and have been a little concerned that I've developed brain damage. This morning, I left the baby seat in the wrong car, forgot half my lunch, got to work and took three trips to the refrigerator before remembering to take my lunchbag off my shoulder and put it in, then approached the wrong person to ask a question and once I'd realized I'd asked the wrong person, hunted up the right one and couldn't remember what I was there to ask.

It's nice to know that all I really need is some chicken soup, a nice rest, and... the opportunity to destroy my enemies. Bwahaha!

Jolie said...

Maybe you have a brain tumor.
*is NOT helpful*
But seriously, this can't be normal. Please look after yourself!

Elle said...

I second (nth) the suggestion of taking a vitamin supplement if you aren't already - not anything fancy, just a normal iron/vit b/etc daily vitamin. Before the holidays last year I was feeling completely out of it all the time, and I would stop in the middle of most of my sentences because I couldn't remember the next word (usually something simple like "cat," which was depressing) or had just completely lost my train of thought. While I was freaking out thinking that I had a brain tumor, my mother casually suggested I take a daily vitamin. I started feeling better almost immediately and now I can think again. Most of the time.

Sleep also helps. And less stress. And chocolate :)

Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

Wait -- is this why you forgot about that carton of 12 of your favorite paperbacks you promised to send? And the gift certificate for the sushi catalog that delivers fresh fish by Fed Ex? And the few hundred bucks you owe me? Come on, Moonie. No excuses.

P.S. Sleeeeeeep. Or at least veg out to some lovely classical music.

Sarahlynn said...

Probably, sympathy is in order here. And you have that! It sounds awful and very scary. Also frustrating for all.

But in case sharing miseries is also in order here, I'll share a little story of mine own. When my daughter was about a month old, I took a morning walk around the block.

The baby was in a sling, comfortably and snugly and safely strapped to my chest, the dog was on her leash, and, frankly, I was feeling pretty proud of myself for having it all together.

I met a neighbor on the back side of the block who asked me the baby's name.

And I had no idea.

I stalled for time by saying, "It's Lizzi" and explaining how the dog got her name, then pretending to realize that she meant the baby, not the dog.

And in the background, the whole time, my brain was frantically searching for my own daughter's name.

Deb S said...

Over-worked, too much to do, too much to read and still those *#% bloggers keep posting!

Rick Chesler said...

Take a break!

macaronipants said...

Don't worry. Sometimes I forget where I'm going if a stoplight lasts too long. Sort of like when you go from one room to the next and then when you get there, you haven't a clue what you were after. Only with a car.

It's all about perspective. You can choose to belive you're losing your mind. Or you can embrace the fuzz. Just think of it as a nice fluffy cushion between you and reality.

Shruti said...

That must be scary. Your mother is right, you should take time off to relax a bit.

Your story wants to make me work even harder.

Maree A. said...

Never fear, Moonie. It's not early-onset anything! I have it on very good authority from my hubby--who trained as an Iroquois pilot for the RNZAF--it's called "errors of omission" i.e. you're under so much stress you're shedding stuff that's no so important from your memory. When you start making "errors of judgment" then you've got to really sit up and take notice!

Mind you, he did want to know, "has she had any whacks to the head lately?" Hoping the answer to that is, "No!".

And then he came up with, "Could be she's been cloned and it's her clone running round doing all those things she can't remember."

Oh dear. Stick to the day job, hubby!


RedHawk said...

SO ...

How is your time off?

Linda said...

Empathy to you, Moonie. Your woes most likely are due to stress. the last half of 2008 was a haze, and a lot of forgotten stuff bit my in the heiney. Unfortunately, I think the 'new economy' will produce a lot of stressed-out workers as those 'grateful' for their jobs will need to work harder to: 1/ do the work of their laid-off colleagues; and 2/ prove their mettle.

Sigh. Hang in there... Peace, Linda

Lisette Kristensen said...

one word ... Vacation