My Brain Doesn’t Work

So, I’m enrolled in a MOOC through Coursera.  Animal Behavior: “In this course we want to introduce you to the science behind animal behaviour, and to highlight topics of current active research. Since we can’t provide a comprehensive account of every aspect of behaviour, we will focus on the ecology and evolution of the behaviour of wild animals.” Two professors from the University of Melbourne are teaching it. The information is fascinating and as enjoyable as I thought it would be.

But I’m having a huge problem with concentration and retention. I understand the concepts in the video lectures (and articles) as they are presented, and as they build on each other in each 15 minute lecture. But by the next lecture – even if viewed only a few minutes later – I’ve lost my understanding. And I fall asleep during some of the videos or articles as I try to concentrate so hard to understand and integrate. And then – adding insult to injury – I can’t remember any of the main concepts by the time of the quiz.

This situation feels like proof of what I’ve been trying to tell people about all the problems I have with concentration, focus and memory in daily activities, reading and at work. My brain’s not working (a) the way I used to absorb information from many sources and (b) maybe at all. (A) makes me so very, very disappointed. I used to be a sponge and squeeze out whatever I needed whenever I needed it. (B) is what I’ve been expressing for years to my care team. I’m tired of hearing that it will eventually get better. It’s not getting better. I feel like it’s getting worse, in fact.

I’ll give the class another week or so and see if I can keep up or get something out of it even without full comprehension or retention. Disappointing.

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4 responses to “My Brain Doesn’t Work

  1. I hope you find a way to make it work. I am starting a full load of college coursework in a couple of months and I have no idea how it will go.

  2. I’m doing a course through Coursera just for the fun of it too! Its called an Introduction to Human Behavioural Genetics.
    There could be a number of things going on. I have been studying by correspondence for three of the five years that I have been diagnosed bipolar so hopefully I can help you.

    Firstly, if you are medicated, talk to someone about them. I have found it impossible to read a news paper article or remember what I ate for breakfast while on some meds!

    Second, you might just need to learn how to study again. Try to do it at the same time each day but not for more then an hour or so without a break. Also, no distractions!

    Starting to study again can be really hard as your brain literally forgets how to do it the longer you’ve been out of official education. You can find a heap of information about how to study smarter and get the most out of online courses by doing a Google search.

    Don’t beat yourself up and don’t give up! If you haven’t paid for the course stick at it and try a few different things. You might just find your rhythm.

    Be proud of yourself for doing the course in the first place and not just sitting around feeling sorry for yourself. If you only remember 5% of the course you’re still 5% better off then if you hadn’t done it at all!

  3. I got a master’s degree while even more heavily medicated than I am now (I can’t believe I did it). What saved was taking a lot of supplements that support cognition- they really did help. You might want to research this and see what works for you. I unfortunately found that choline makes me depressed, but there are forms of it I can take in smaller doses that help. I still take a lot of supplements. I also read a lot which I think helps to train my brain. Working on mindfulness can help with getting things encoded into memory, to a certain extent- although it can’t always override the meds. If it doesn’t get better over time- maybe you need to talk to your doctor about your meds?

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