Let’s get scientific here. I’m suffering from a medical condition I call “Mushy Brain.” You know the feeling. You’re going along in your life and you suddenly realize that you forgot something important. Maybe you walk into a room and you’re not sure why. Or you find an appointment on your calendar that you missed and you have no memory of jotting it down.

For some reason, this has been happening a lot lately, not only to me but to a boatload of my friends as we move into the 6th month of “sheltering in place.” For example, I have a close friend who had cataract surgery last week. She told me the date and time a week before it occurred, I offered to be her backup if her designated person couldn’t make it and then I forgot it was even happening. This is so unlike me that when she called to tell me her surgery had been easy and successful, I was stunned and disappointed in myself. I take pride in being there for people no matter what they’re going through, but not this time. My brain went mushy and now I have to process the guilt from disappointing someone I love and not supporting her.

I like to think of my brain as a computer that stores copious amounts of information but lately, the hard drive is full and it can’t hold any more data. I feel like it shouldn’t be that way. We’re not gadding about, we see fewer people than we did before March and even if we’re working at home, we’re saving traveling time. If my life is simpler, why does it feel like my brain is working harder and seems to be somewhat deficient?

When I try to analyze “mushy brain,” I think it’s covering up unconscious fear and confusion. Anything can set me off. A friend ranting about how bad things are. Five minutes of politics on TV that turn my stomach. The “change light” on the instrument panel of my car and I don’t have a mechanic any more. The diminished size of the daily newspaper. A trip to the grocery store where people are wearing masks under their noses or on their necks. I feel anger and fear when I go for a walk with maskless joggers rushing past me and I see basketballs games with players sweating all over each other. It’s hard to tolerate but changing the channel and focusing on something positive is the only way I know to get through this, day after day, the only cure for “mushy brain.”

A friend shared something with me yesterday that helped a lot. “We have to be confident in our beliefs,” he said. “We have to believe in our vision for good and inspire other people to do the same.” If there is any truth to magnetic fields and the power of attraction (real science), let’s keep away from the darkness and project hope and healing. As hard as it gets sometimes, I choose to imagine the good thing, not the bad one. I choose to stay in the present instead of dreading a shaky and painful future.

It’s important to avoid listening to doom and gloom rants. It doesn’t matter what other people say or how they’re spending their time. No one knows what’s coming next and we each have to find our own personal pathway to combat fear and chaos – anything that helps us face the unknown with courage and inspiration. Most of all we need to have a sense of humor. A friend of mine has cancer running through her family: herself, her husband, her daughter. But each time I talk to her, she says something funny like calling a chemo infusion “date night” for her and her husband. I learned from her that when we’re standing in the middle of the kitchen and we have no idea why, when we realize we missed a close friend’s birthday or a surgery, a good natured laugh at ourselves can transform mushy brain to compassionate brain as we find a way to forgive ourselves and move on.