Sunday, January 25, 2015

Scattered Brain Syndrome: It's a Real Thing

I used to be put together. I knew what needed to be done and I did it. I remembered details. People came to me for advice because I was strong, capable, and intelligent. Now I have a hard time remembering my kids' names, let alone the 30,000 tasks on my to-do list at any given time. I walk into a room and forget why I'm there. I get out of the shower and start dressing only to realize I never rinsed the shampoo out of my hair. Yeah. I'm that person now. I blame it on SBS (Scattered Brain Syndrome.) SBS may not be in medical annals (yet), but I’m certain it’s a real thing. I’m not a doctor, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night so I’m pretty sure I’m onto something here.


Scattered Brain Syndrome, better known as SBS, is a debilitating affliction characterized by the inability to finish one task before being distracted by another, failure to remember the simplest of jobs, and being too overwhelmed by the details of daily existence to adequately and accurately perform the most menial chores. SBS can affect anyone, but women are nearly two times more likely to develop SBS than men. Its symptoms vary widely, largely depending on external factors such as number of children the patient has. There is no known cure for SBS. Treatment generally aims at alleviating some of the symptoms.


Signs and symptoms of SBS vary, depending on the levels of stress in the individual. Most people with SBS experience a gradual onset and steady progression of signs and symptoms which may include:

• Walking into a room and forgetting why you’ve gone there
• Forgetting your children’s names or running through a list of disjointed syllables while trying to call them, ex. Ausavjacksclaytonjackson!
• Inability to remember things like dentist appointments
• Leaving the house, only to circle the block and return home because you forgot your purse, phone, lunch, shoes . . .
• Getting to work before realizing you’re wearing two different shoes
• Shaving one leg in the shower, but completely forgetting about the other one until you’re in bed that night.
• Jaw pain from grinding your teeth at night due to the stress of having to handle everything during the day
• Consumption of massive quantities of caffeine
• Consumption of massive quantities of alcohol
• Consumption of massive quantities of chocolate
• Problems keeping up with homework, laundry, cooking, shopping, bill paying, work, life.
• Watching TV shows about a cartoon platypus. And enjoying them.


Most people with SBS have a course that gradually gets worse, with more symptoms developing over time, although it is common for symptoms to improve and worsen over the course of days and months. About 75-80 percent of people with SBS eventually give up on ever leaving the house without forgetting something. 90 percent develop a dependence on Chardonnay.


The cause of Scattered Brain Syndrome is unknown. It's believed to be a disease, in which the patient’s own children attack the brain cells by incessant whining, and demands on time and resources. It isn't clear why SBS develops in some people and not others. A combination of factors, ranging from genetics to number of children, helpfulness of spouse, and demands of job play a part in the development of Scattered Brain Syndrome.


These factors may increase your risk of developing Scattered Brain Syndrome:

• Age. SBS can occur at any age, but most commonly affects people between the ages of 20 and 50.
• Sex. Women are about twice as likely as men are to develop SBS.
• Many children. If you have more than two kids, you are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
• Mutiples. If you have even a single set of twins, your risk increases.
• Divorce. If you are a single parent by choice, by divorce, or by other circumstances, your chances of developing SBS increase three-fold.


People with SBS may also:

• lose their jobs after missing work because they misplaced their car keys in the refrigerator one too many times
• Develop a dependency on tequila, rum, and/or Pinot Noir
• Have dozens of half-finished projects


There are no specific tests for SBS. The diagnosis relies on ruling out other conditions that might produce similar signs and symptoms. ADD produces similar symptoms, but in diagnosing SBS, your doctor will determine if your distracted behavior is all-encompassing or if it is isolated to “mom type tasks.” For example, if you start to make your child a sandwich, but have to stop to break up a fight between your toddlers over a red crayon, and before you can get back to the sandwich, you clean the offending red crayon off the dining room wall, and then when you go to put the cleaning cloth in the laundry room, you remember you have to fold a load of clothes, and then the phone rings because your 5th grader is calling to ask you to bring him his homework that he left sitting in the bathtub for some reason, and when you go to grab the homework, you remember that you really need to clean the bathroom . . .


There is no cure for Scattered Brain Syndrome although studies have shown a drastic lessoning of symptoms once the children move out of the house. Treatment typically focuses on managing symptoms. The following have been found to provide temporary respite from symptoms in many patients:

• Regular consumption of alcoholic beverages
• Girls nights out
• Massages, manicure, and pedicures
• Binge watching episodes of Impractical Jokers
• Shopping
• Sending the kids back to school
• A maid


Living with any chronic illness can be difficult. To manage the stress of living with SBS, consider these suggestions:

• Hire a babysitter and get out of the house without kids, enjoy a nice dinner that doesn’t have the word “nuggets” in the title.
Read Because I Said So and your other favorite mom blogs for the assurance that you're not alone.
Maintain a membership at a gym because the endorphins that come with exercise make you feel better
• Maintain a membership at a wine-of-the-month club because who needs endorphins when you have fermented grapes?
• Discuss your feelings and concerns about living with SBS on Facebook to see what other parents are doing to cope.
• Create a countdown calendar – Days Until They Leave for College


Sharlyn said...

Sooooooo funny! And true....

Sarah said...

Love this, and the way you have it all thought out. I'm behind on reading your posts. I hope all is ok. :)

Petra said...

Laughed out loud reading this! You have a great sense of humor as always!

Tiffany said...

I'm sure that I suffer from SBS!! I meet several of the requirements above. I joke at work that my brain is like a fish bowl and some things float out like little air bubbles never to be seen again lol. I always remember to feed and love Zilla so I'm sure we'll be ok. As always I enjoyed your humor.

Thanks for checking out my post - I've got to start betting on their more often - I miss it.

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