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I swear I used to be smarter.

Dante

SF Supporter
#1
I was a very smart kid, I got good grades without studying, without trying, I picked up skills easily enough, at 17 I opened my text book for the first time the night before the exam, and I passed that exam easily enough, then I got to university, I studied Maths and Programming, and in my first year I did study, but not much, and I sailed past with a 1st in my first year, but then depression hit, and I could barely pass no matter how hard I studied, and I thought I "beat" depression, and though I was wrong and it has repeatedly come back to haunt me, even when I am doing well, aside from a few rare moments I have never felt that intelligence I once had ever again, that ease of understanding, being able to hold enormous ideas in my head, now my head is just kind of numb and trying to think is tiring.

I really do think I'm supposed to be smarter than I am now, I used to get so bored if I didn't think about something complicated all the time, now, I get tired if I do. I haven't felt like myself since I lost that, I keep hoping it will come back, but its been 11 years and it never has. Does anyone have any ideas why I am still so dulled? or how to fix me?
 

lightning05

Well-Known Member
#2
I don't think that just because we get older we become smarter and I don't believe that you are any "less smarter" than you were before. From what you wrote there is a correlation between when depression began and when you began to struggle with studying and grades. You aren't dulled, your brain is different when depressed and stressed. I'm not a doctor but I know that there are chemical differences in a depressed versus a happy brain (simplest possible terms). Depression makes you numb, unable to concentrate, and exhausted easily. Do you have a therapist? If you are going to school is there someone there you can talk to? I struggled a lot in college because of depression and it definitely affected my grades. I think this is unfortunately a common occurrence. *hug* I hope you start feeling better soon.
 

Dante

SF Supporter
#3
I'm well past studying, I'm 30 now, and I haven't stayed depressed this whole time, I didn't think so anyway, I havent been able to concentrate for over a decade. I feel like since I got depressed in my 2nd year of university my brain has been stuck in neutral, are you suggesting I have been depressed for 11 years without a break?
 

the.end.ish

Misknown Member
#4
I took general psychology a long time ago so please bear with me while I try to remember. My main take away was that depression rewrites our neural pathways and our brain tends to repeat these pathways of thinking, so that it does become a pattern. It's hard to rewire the brain without the help of antidepressants, specifically serotonin (I believe), though even with meds it can be difficult. Depression can affect the hippocampus which plays a large role in our learning and memory. It has lasting effects. I dont think anyone here can say how long you've had depression but it can definitely be a chronic condition and is for many.

My own thoughts on it are that depression, anxiety, whatever mental illness takes up so much of our mental energy that we have little to spare for learning and memorizing. I dont know how to fix it but techniques that have helped me overcome cognitive fog (sans meds) are meditation, extra curricular activities that get you out of your mind and focused on the present task. Reading. Exercise. Even initiating some sort of daily routine. These are all easier said than done and maybe you already do these things but these have helped me in the past. Of course I still experience the dreadful fog.
 

anon87

Active Member
#5
I used to get chronic fatigue often. I had to cut out refined sugar, flour, and alcohol and i miss these things but giving them up was worth it in my somewhat extreme case. If I can make a suggestion it’s magnesium, used by every cell to help absorb all the other vitamins and minerals.
 
#6
@Dante, I can relate to much of what you wrote. I was an extremely disturbed kid, but sailed into uni after high school. I never graduated from uni, but I still did well to enroll to study economics/accounting. Now, in my mid forties, my cognition is totally fucked. Mental illness absolutely eats away at your intelligence.
 

Dante

SF Supporter
#7
@Dante, I can relate to much of what you wrote. I was an extremely disturbed kid, but sailed into uni after high school. I never graduated from uni, but I still did well to enroll to study economics/accounting. Now, in my mid forties, my cognition is totally fucked. Mental illness absolutely eats away at your intelligence.
My intelligence used to be my self worth, I first started correcting my teachers when I was about 6, my mum got me tested for dyslexia because of my handwriting, but it was just because my hand couldnt keep up, now I often need things explained to me slowly.

I have woke my brain up a couple of times since depression kicked in, in a high point for about a month I could help my sister out by explaining bits of her university course she didnt understand (she is 5 years younger than me), she did biology and forensic sciences, and when I was at university I studied maths, so no crossover. I once took 10 minutes to research and understand nanodrop fluorospectrometry methods for analysing DNA transposition experiments well enough to explain it to my sister who was stuck on her coursework, and then walk her through interpreting the output from the machine she was using and the implications for how her experiment had gone. I didn't take biology past GCSE (16 years old), I just googled this shit from cold in 10 minutes, but sitting here now I don't even know how I found any useful results, I just googled it and I came up empty. I feel like I am sitting in a bloody supercar but cant remember how to get out of 1st gear! Its infuriating!

I can say the above without feeling like I'm bragging because that's not me anymore. I look at myself and I don't see someone intelligent, I see an idiot who is too much of a coward to either sort his life out or end it, instead I just coast along wasting my time and hoping that one day the person I used to be will magically appear again.
 

Auri

🎸🎼Rock Star🎼🎸
Safety & Support
SF Supporter
#8
Hey @Dante . I relate so much to what you wrote that I got tears in my eyes (I'm pretty sure I'll cry after writing this). Especially this part :

I can say the above without feeling like I'm bragging because that's not me anymore. I look at myself and I don't see someone intelligent, I see an idiot who is too much of a coward to either sort his life out or end it, instead I just coast along wasting my time and hoping that one day the person I used to be will magically appear again.
I tell this to myself everyday... I will get better, I will be the person I used to be, I will be everything I was supposed to be, my brain will rewire. Someday, I will. It's like a mantra that keeps me going... Though at times it fails as well.

I was in denial for a very long time, thinking I was not making enough efforts, certainly not admitting that I was depressed or something... but retrospectively, it is so obvious. Sometimes when someone explains something sciency to me, it takes so long for me to get it. I feel so incredibly dumb... When I read a book, I struggle picturing the story, I need to read every sentence a few times, while I used to finish a few books a week. When I was studying, sometimes I forgot what I had studied out of nowhere at the exam, nothing about that was normal... I could not focus, I could not remember, my head was simply blank. Aching. Distracted. I still believe finishing uni was a freaking miracle for me, nothing about it was easy.

I don't know how long I've been like this (9 years?), and you've been like this. Like @the.end.ish said, it can be a chronic condition, but I hope it doesn't have to be. I know that in the second half of 2016, I was doing much better and I did better in uni as well. Not exactly like I used to, but I felt like my brain was treating information a bit better, everything seemed "clearer", and like it was possible to improve even more from there. Obviously since then I've had another burnout then major depressive episode, and things have not gone the way I wanted... but I keep believing it is possible?

Actually, right now I feel a bit defeated about it to be honest... but hope is all I have, so I hold on to it. :(
 
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Auri

🎸🎼Rock Star🎼🎸
Safety & Support
SF Supporter
#9
Rather than simply saying I relate, I should have probably explained why and how at the end of 2016 I was doing significantly better, that'd be useful perhaps.

Well, in a nutshell, I had made some big changes in my life. I dared almost "starting over". I went to live in another country, which meant being away from the toxicity of my family and my university. There was no stress, because the general care for mental wellbeing in that country and university was incredibly better. I felt at home there. The weather was wonderful. I met a few new people, amazing people. I was taking care of myself. I was doing what I wanted with my life, not what I was expected to. I was not limited.
Granted, my ptsd symptoms were never as bad as during that time, but I also religiously tried avoiding the triggers, so they progressively got better, too.

My brain was overall functioning better in that environment. I never felt dumb, and I was never treated as if I were. Being away from family and from stress is what impacts my depression the most, I believe.

Then I came back. The reasons are too complicated and irrelevant, but yeah... I have hope.
 

BarryW

SF Supporter
#10
now my head is just kind of numb and trying to think is tiring.
You have just described how I have been feeling every day for most of this year, and the feeling that has been growing on me for several years now.

I am in my late 30s, and I have been feeling, whether there is any basis for it or not, that my brain or I are not what we used to be. Like you, in my younger years I corrected/questioned teachers, helped people work out something in what was their subject of expertise/study (not mine), etc often enough that it seemed weird to me (i.e. "It shouldn't be this easy to help them with something I know nothing about"). But I have lost confidence or something because I have trouble believing that I can be the smart person again. Partially because of this concern I went back to school a few years back and took a few classes in something that is considered a difficult subject. I wanted to "test" my brain. I was able to do well, but a few months after school was out I went right back to strong self-doubt again. Looking for work complicates things because I see job after job after job I am not qualified for, and it makes me feel [even more] inferior.

Trying to not ramble forever, but I think that a lot of my feelings stem from me not applying myself (consistently). When I am applying myself consistently, I feel good from accomplishing things. It could be a job, it could be a personal project, it could be a hobby that is something more than just fun or time killing. The trouble is that, most likely due to the chronic depression, it is extremely hard for me to motivate myself to do anything productive, for any decent length of time. And the longer it goes on the worse it feels.

Short answer is that if you can somehow force yourself to apply yourself to something challenging for a decent enough amount of time you can probably break the cycle. However, how to do that is something I don't know.
 

Human Ex Machinae

Void Where Prohibited
#11
I once took 10 minutes to research and understand nanodrop fluorospectrometry methods for analysing DNA transposition experiments well enough to explain it to my sister who was stuck on her coursework, and then walk her through interpreting the output from the machine she was using and the implications for how her experiment had gone. I didn't take biology past GCSE (16 years old), I just googled this shit from cold in 10 minutes, but sitting here now I don't even know how I found any useful results, I just googled it and I came up empty.
The focus of your depression is you, same as with everybody. Depression is about our most deep-down intimate selves and identity and self image. That's where it lives. When you were helping your sister, it wasn't about you, so you were able to fully harness your intelligence, unfettered. But then you googled it a second time and came up empty, because that time it was about you. This shows that that powerful mind is still there and can be used to accomplish things when working around the depression, instead of through it.
 

Dante

SF Supporter
#12
The focus of your depression is you, same as with everybody. Depression is about our most deep-down intimate selves and identity and self image. That's where it lives. When you were helping your sister, it wasn't about you, so you were able to fully harness your intelligence, unfettered. But then you googled it a second time and came up empty, because that time it was about you. This shows that that powerful mind is still there and can be used to accomplish things when working around the depression, instead of through it.
Thank you, that is actually really comforting.
 

Legate Lanius

Well-Known Member
#13
I would guess that my intelligence, according to most definitions, has dropped due to many years of very low mental activity and depression. But intelligence will scarcely help you achieve peace, you know this.
 

Dante

SF Supporter
#14
I would guess that my intelligence, according to most definitions, has dropped due to many years of very low mental activity and depression. But intelligence will scarcely help you achieve peace, you know this.
I know intelligence doesnt bring me peace, it is the opposite, but I would rather be intelligent and miserable, than stupid and happy, the problem is that I feel stupid and miserable. I know Im putting too much value on intellect, but it really does mean a lot to me, not that I look down on stupid people though, rather, if a stupid person knows they are dumb but still tries to improve, I really admire them, but my mind was always something I had that I could rely on, it was a pillar of my self esteem and identity, one of 4 I can think of off the top of my head. (1. Intelligence, 2. My sister,* 3. Being a good person, 4. Being funny/silly), and losing one of those pillars has put me on shaky ground.


*I had more than a minor influence on her upbringing so im more than a little invested in her achievements and her opinion of me
 

Legate Lanius

Well-Known Member
#15
I know intelligence doesnt bring me peace, it is the opposite, but I would rather be intelligent and miserable, than stupid and happy, the problem is that I feel stupid and miserable. I know Im putting too much value on intellect, but it really does mean a lot to me, not that I look down on stupid people though, rather, if a stupid person knows they are dumb but still tries to improve, I really admire them, but my mind was always something I had that I could rely on, it was a pillar of my self esteem and identity, one of 4 I can think of off the top of my head. (1. Intelligence, 2. My sister,* 3. Being a good person, 4. Being funny/silly), and losing one of those pillars has put me on shaky ground.


*I had more than a minor influence on her upbringing so im more than a little invested in her achievements and her opinion of me
That is a mental "foundation", what actually exists are sounds, sights and feelings. Maybe now is not the time for figuring things out, but instead to rest and try to recuperate by finding sources of strength in your daily activities. Ideas are impossible to battle, they are an enemy that can not be stabbed, negotiated with or even seen (without meditation practice). Don't give hostile thoughts such as those the benefit of the doubt, investigate their true nature in the present moment.
 

Dante

SF Supporter
#16
That is a mental "foundation", what actually exists are sounds, sights and feelings. Maybe now is not the time for figuring things out, but instead to rest and try to recuperate by finding sources of strength in your daily activities. Ideas are impossible to battle, they are an enemy that can not be stabbed, negotiated with or even seen (without meditation practice). Don't give hostile thoughts such as those the benefit of the doubt, investigate their true nature in the present moment.
I'm confused, how is being unsure after losing one of the key points of my perceived identity a hostile thought? Im sorry, but im struggling to see how your last post even makes sense, you seem to jump between disjointed thoughts and end up calling personal identity something hostile? Im confused, do you mean we should all just ignore personal identity and just be? like some zen thing?
 

Legate Lanius

Well-Known Member
#17
I'm confused, how is being unsure after losing one of the key points of my perceived identity a hostile thought? Im sorry, but im struggling to see how your last post even makes sense, you seem to jump between disjointed thoughts and end up calling personal identity something hostile? Im confused, do you mean we should all just ignore personal identity and just be? like some zen thing?
Short answer: yes.
 

PrincessPure

Well-Known Member
#18
Maybe it's just the matter of age rather than anything else. I don't think you are "stupid". Just the fact that you are worried about being stupid makes you the opposite of it, basically "aware".
People may consider me young, however there is a huge difference in my learning ability rn compared to how it used to be as a kid. An example to prove it would be how I easily managed to reach fluency (or at least kinda close to it lol) in English as a kid, but now, I have been trying as hard with French and it's indeed pointless. So what I think, a kid or teenager's learning ability is way different than an adult's.
 

Dante

SF Supporter
#19
I dont think I could do that, I rely on my personal identity, when I come up short in myself I can fall back on this image of "who I am" and draw strength from it, oh and I just remembered pillar number 5: "I am a 'Man'", (not a toxic masculinity thing).
An example of personal identity being useful is the pain ive been in for over 1 and a half years, if it begins to beat me, I fall back on "I am a man" and indulge in the image of "I am Man, I am Immortal" to push through*, if I start to feel too drained or broken I remind myself "I am silly/funny" and sooth myself with jokes and silliness, and these jokes also help keep others around me and sooth me with company and good times even in the midst of my bad times.

My personal identity isn't a set of shackles, they are tools I can use to push myself or protect myself when just "being" isn't working, I remind myself of "who I am" and draw strength from it. I am shaken by the loss of "I am a geneous" (misspelled because its more fun) because that's one less tool I can use when I am growing weak.


*I have a phrase and an image, of a guy standing on the top of a mountain facing a huge wind which threatens to blow him off the peak and he just stands there daring it to try "I stand before the roaring of the world, and I do not yield."
 
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Legate Lanius

Well-Known Member
#20
if I start to feel too drained or broken I remind myself "I am silly/funny" and sooth my pain with jokes and silliness, and these jokes also help keep others around me and sooth me with company and good times even in the midst of my bad times.
780 × 438


Anyways, that will get you through pain, sure. But are your sights not set on finding peace no matter the situation?
 

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