Broken brain filter

Broken Brain Filter

Where do I get these crazy titles? Well, I get them from things that I personally deal with or have gone through. Now, what do I mean about a Broken Brain Filter? I mean, it sounds kind of odd, doesn’t it? But it’s true.

What I’m referring to is the fact that, sometimes, my brain-to-mouth filter is ‘out of order’, in a way. Things come out of my mouth that I hadn’t planned on saying out loud. If I’m in a situation where it would be best to keep my mouth shut, my brain doesn’t get that message, and it comes out of my mouth anyways.

I know we always hear, “think before you act/speak”… but sometimes that just isn’t possible for me. I could be having an internal dialogue going on in my head, and will blurt out words all of a sudden, not meaning to. Has that happened to any of you?

There could also be times where I plan things out in my head to say, and I go to say them, but the brain-to-mouth filter doesn’t communicate correctly, and I make absolutely no sense in what I was trying to say.

I feel like this is a part of my cognitive dysfunction, or what I like to call cog-fog, which I’ve written about in the past.

I’ve come to realize that my brain-to-mouth filter is ‘out-of-service’ when I’m fatigued – well more fatigued than what’s ‘normal’. It also happens if I’m stressed out, or in a busy environment. It’s like my head can’t deal with everything that’s going on, so part of it just decides to take a nap.

For example, the other day I was having a conversation with someone at the infusion clinic, where I was getting my Tysabri. We were just having a conversation about random things, and I went to say something, but it came out all wrong, and they corrected me as I corrected myself. But at least they understood what I was dealing with, and it wasn’t with people who have no clue as to what MS can cause.

I’ve been to meetings for my kids’ school, and I try to speak up to say things, but I’ve embarrassed myself so many times now, that I tend to only speak in the smaller group conversations. I don’t know what it is about a larger group, maybe it’s just too much going on at once, but that seems to have an impact on my brain-to-mouth filter functionality as well.

Those people, who know me and are informed on what MS is and how it affects me, understand it a bit more. So if I’m sitting there searching for a word, they usually help me out with the word I’m trying to find. I’ve gotten past being embarrassed about those situations, if I’m around people that I actually know and am friends with.

I’ve also noticed that the later in the day it is, the worse my brain-to-mouth filter gets. I’m guessing it’s because my medicine is wearing off, and I’m getting tired, and it makes my thinking process become disrupted.

I’ve even gotten mad at a word before. Yes, actually mad. I was so frustrated because I had the word in my head but I couldn’t get it out of my mouth, and it was ticking me off, so I started saying, “stupid word, why can’t you just leave my mouth. You stupid, stupid word.” Thankfully, I’m usually at home when I have these conversations out loud with myself, because I’m not sure what people would do or how they would react if I was out in public when it happens.

It seems that my brain isn’t picky when it comes to being ‘out-of-service’. It doesn’t have to be complicated word, or a word I rarely use. It can be a word that I use frequently, but it just decides to play hide-and-seek in my brain. Do I sound as crazy as I think I do right about now? Oh well, there is nothing wrong with being a little bit crazy, being normal is boring anyways.

I think one of the more irritating things that I deal with when it comes to my cog-fog and broken brain filter, is when I’m in the middle of a conversation, or stating something… I’ll get side tracked by something, then try and go back to the conversation and completely forgot what I was talking about. Even if I’m reminded of the subject I was talking about, I sometimes can’t remember what I was going to say. So I just have to let it go… Usually, when this happens, I’ll remember what I wanted to say when I’m laying down to go to bed, so I can’t really just pick up the conversation with the person again.

If it’s my husband that I was having the conversation with that I got lost in, I usually get really excited that I remember it, and just blurt it out to him. And he has no idea that I’m trying to continue the conversation from hours before then. I think he is getting used to it now a little bit, but it’s still odd for him at times I think.

Even when it comes to my kid’s homework… I make sure that we get this done right when they get home from school, if they need my help with it. Because if we wait to do it till later on in the evening, my brain does not filter the information like it should and I’m not able to help my boys with their homework.

I even find myself in a conversation at times, where I have to ask a question more than once. They will answer my question initially, but it’s like my mind just shuts off and doesn’t take in the words that they are saying. I feel bad when I have to do this, because it seems like I wasn’t listening to them when they were talking. That isn’t the case – I am listening, but my brain isn’t!

A lot of these things I’ve talked about when my brain filter is broken, I tend to refer to them as MS moments. My friends that have MS, understand what I mean when I say, “Sorry, was having an MS Moment.” But it’s hard to explain it to those who don’t “get it”.

Well, that’s where I’m going to end it for now. I could probably go on and on about this, but then I wouldn’t get anything else done that needs to be done. I am a big procrastinator at times, FYI.

xoxo

Ashley Ringstaff

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (28)
  • Sarah R
    2 years ago

    This happens to me too. My lifemate is an I.T. professional, and came up with a great way of putting it. My database is fine (well, OK anyway,) but my user interface is bugged. I think it was interface, anyway. 🙂
    For me, it’s not just what I say. It’s my memory as well. I’ll mean to say a specific phrase, and think that is what I said, then he will repeat it back to me and it’s one with the exact opposite meaning! But if he doesn’t say something immediately, my internal story teller will have cemented what I meant to say in my memory and I just tell him he’s wrong.
    I only really realized this one night when it had been happening a lot lately. It happened again but rather than arguing he just rolled his eyes. Which I had never seen him do before, and I suddenly got what was happening. It really freaks me out, because I had the exact opposite problem at my last job. My trainer would give me instructions that I knew were wrong, I would correct her, and she would say “that’s not what I said.” Now I’m just super concerned that my data intake is also damaged. Help! My brain is broken!
    Sorry for the length, this has just been my first opportunity to sort it out in my head. Now I can take it to my doctor! Thanks for your help!

  • Mrehak554
    2 years ago

    It’s hard for me to completely believe it’s my MS that leads to me to blurt out things when I probably should keep my mouth shut. I’d love to blame MS, but a ton of non-MS’ers do this too. The idea of thinking before speaking and to always have goal in mind before I speak is a major focus of an anger management program that I have been facilitating for the past eight or so years.
    Unfortunately I don’t always practice what I preach and I just can’t bring myself to blaming MS when I can’t keep my mouth shut. I am otherwise a pretty quiet person and that can really be a problem when the few words I do contribute to conversations are littered with sarcasm, which is my favorite method of putting down others.
    Likely this does stem from MS, but I think it relates to my attempts at putting others down to make myself feel better, even though I know damn well that it never works.
    Is that MS causing me to point out others’s flaws, or is it just my anger at having this horrid disease that makes me try to drag others’ down with sarcastic and inappropriate comments?

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Mrehak554, actually, you may be able to blame your recent risk-taking or impulsiveness on MS. As Kim points out in Emotional Stress or Brain Damage? lesions in the frontal lobe, which is kind of our control panel for problem-solving, spontaneity, memory, language, judgment, impulse control (among other things), can lead us to be more impulsive. So please be gentle with yourself. -Warmly, Donna (MultipleSclerosis.net team)

  • Bonnie K
    2 years ago

    This really does my heart good to see this put into words by someone. I so understand the issue with getting mad about not being able to find or say the correct word. Thank you for the article and I hope that my husband sees and reads this.

  • BillieLewandoski
    2 years ago

    I am so glad that it’s not just me. I thought maybe I was starting to lose it or (even worse) I was developing a brain tumor. My MS damage is strictly in my spine but I do have 1 or 2 lesions in the brain, so I never really suffered from a lot of the cognitive issues. However, this is one that I noticed the most since the onset of symptoms (besides all my physical symptoms). The worst one’s for me, I resigned from my job early last year and have been looking for a new one. Being in a job interview and this hits, it’s the worst. I end up blaming it on being nervous. The other, my husband or kids tell me important trips or school events coming up, I hear them but then a minute later, I have to ask about it or I forget completely and they get angry with me. I try so hard to write everything down but they usually tell me when I am in the car, cooking, or busy and can’t write it down at the time. I am sharing this to them so hopefully they know.

  • mentoria
    2 years ago

    Yes! Thank you. This is so me! My cog-fog is always on the prowl for a good time to make an appearance. Luckily, it’s usually in front of people who know me (and my MS) and my sense of humor, so we just have a good laugh. But I am famous for forgetting what I was talking about mid-sentence. The old “where was I going with this?” is a common occurrence around here. I am also known for throwing out the rest of what I was previously talking about way after the fact. Better late than never. I have a very patient and understanding husband. Fun times!

  • potter
    2 years ago

    I have more trouble typing a e-mail, granted some of mine get kinda of long. I have to go over them several times before I send them because I will have a different words than I meant to use. I also have a what I call a brain block. We will be at a restaurant and decide what were going to have. The waitress comes up and I try to tell her but my mind is blank. Fortunately my husband has started ordering for me. Potter

  • Betty
    3 years ago

    I’ve got friends who don’t have MS who have this problem! When I do it, I call it my”hoof in mouth disease”. I open my mouth to change feet!!

  • Nancy W
    3 years ago

    I can identify. Just last night, I told the President of my Women’s club that I could no longer be on the Executive Board because I don’t do well at evening meetings. One off the things I notice is, if we are discussing an issue, I will blurt out what I am thinking, interrupting anyone else who is talking. It seems to others that I am being rude, but when it happens, I know it is more than that.

  • Amy B Mel
    3 years ago

    It’s too late at night to make sense, so just gonna say I loved the article! Thank you for writing it!! – Amy

  • SSymons
    3 years ago

    I really struggle with cog fog, and what is really upsetting to me is the way others dismiss it –since they have the same problem from time to time and it is likely only getting older. In these situations I want to explain that I know the difference — I mean how does one completely forget their address or phone number or worse, where the parentheses are located on a keyboard? It is not just right there at the edge but gone, absolutely no trace.

  • Betty
    3 years ago

    I’ve suffered from hoof and mouth disease for many years. Now it’s more like I open my mouth to change hooves!

  • cw
    4 years ago

    This happens to me all the time. Was not aware that it was part of my MS cognitive dysfunction. But it sure explains a lot. I just avoid conversations for the most part. I’ve tried cognitive therapy several times but hasn’t done much for me. I’m glad you wrote this article. Been dx’d for 25 years and no one’s ever explained this to me. Thanks. Wish you the best.

  • Lefty Lib
    4 years ago

    I could not have said it better, Ashley! You did a great job with articulating, and that’s really saying something, isn’t it?! 😉 I used to be so proud of my articulation skills until they stopped being being so reliable. I have a few people in my life who get it, but just a few. My husband does help me with word-finding and he’s used to my struggling at times trying to get the right words out. I do find it happens more often when I feel I’ve got to hurry because he’s waiting to do something else. And rushing makes it all go haywire. I am very self-conscience about this because if it’s anyone else but him, it’s very embarrassing. Then I feel the need to explain (TMI) so that someone doesn’t just think I’m screwed up in the head (even though I am due to myelin loss – lol)! Then, at the same time, I’m told by certain family members that I talk about my condition too much. So it’s great to be able to empathize with others who do understand, even though it’s basically all online and not in person. So thank you for writing a very relatable article. Helps to not feel alone.

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    So glad you enjoyed it – don’t be shy in reaching out to me on FB, link posted in the article.

    My husband and I laugh it off a lot of the time, with my broken brain filter… Like today, he wanted to go somewhere and I said okay hold on, and I went and walked all the way around the house – looking for my purse. Wanna guess where it was? Right next to where I got up from. It’s not so embarrassing w/ just him – or my kids & close family.

    It can be embarrassing at social gatherings – but oh well. I’m known for my sense of humor and clumsiness, so it’s okay. If they wanna judge me, go for it. That just shows how boring their lives are.

    XOXO

  • Shannon
    4 years ago

    Wow! I was looking through how to install a filter between my brain and my mouth when I saw this post. It had never dawned on me that my MS could be damaging my filter. I will say, i don’t recall having this no filter issue prior to diagnosis, but who knows. I have a little of everything that everyone has mentioned.. word recall, blurting out so I remember, getting lost in my line of thought, I cannot remember anything important which makes me feel like a very flakey self absorbed friend.. all of that. I see yall say it’s worse with stress, I don’t seem to experience it in times of stress as much. I think mine is the worst after a glass of wine. My filter disappears entirely… and that’s not even buzzed or drunk girl slurring, it’s just a single glass of wine and I have no filter and either say WAY too much or can’t articulate anything. I spend all night trying to remember if I should be embarrassed, and typically end up calling to apologize the next day. It’s like living my life worrying that if I open my mouth, I’m going to embarrass myself. Makes me not want to be very social, and I know that’s a not the rabbit trail I need to go down.
    Thanks for posting this. Made me feel not so alone and moreover gave me a tangible reason for what I was concerned was me just slipping. Ha! At least I can blame it on ms!

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    Shannon – glad you liked the post 🙂 I have noticed that when I have a glass of wine, it kinda “relaxes” me, or puts me in that relaxed mindset, and I tend to just not worry about filtering things as much, so don’t feel alone in that at all!

    I don’t even apologize to anyone about my ‘broken filter’ because even before I had MS – I didn’t really filter my feelings all that much. Just usually, got my point across… in a ‘nicer’ way?

    Thank for posting 🙂

  • McEwok
    4 years ago

    This happens to me all the time, especially when I’m tired or stressed. I have a friend who’s mom had MS and she acts as my translator sometimes because she used to have to do it for her mom. I have trouble sometimes where I know the word I want to say but for the life of me I just can’t get it out. I can describe the word in detail but that one word eludes me. My husband is getting better at translating my MS speak too but it’s taken some time.

  • Kevin
    4 years ago

    Thanks Ashley for the article. This fits me to a T!! I think this pretty much happens to me every day. I experience everything that you’ve talked about. It just started in the past couple of years, but I’m really starting to notice it more now. It’s frustrating because the words are there, in my tiny brain, but won’t come out. And I’ll think of something to tell someone, and like you, if I don’t say it immediately, it’s gone. Most of the time it’s truly gone. Once in a while it will come back to me, but not too often. So frustrating!! Thanks again for your articles and the time and effort you put into them!! 🙂

  • Lefty Lib
    4 years ago

    You know what I’ve done before? If there’s something I know I want to say but realize I have to wait, I’ve kept a pen and paper with me so that I can quietly write my thought down to go back to when it’s my turn to talk. Sometimes, the topic is still relevant; other times it’s gone on to something else and I feel silly going back to something that’s no longer relevant. I’ve had to also write a small list of things I’ve wanted to tell someone before I call, so that I’m not frustrated trying to remember everything I wanted to say. You know that feeling; “I know there was something else, but I just can’t remember what!” 😉

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    I’m glad you enjoyed. It’s nice to know we aren’t alone in these odd things that happen to us because of MS.
    There are all these symptoms that are listed… but some of them, I feel aren’t… because there is no ‘term’ for some of the things we experience, like the broken brain filter… it can be categorized as cognitive dysfunction – but it’s SO much more complicated than that.

    Stay Strong!!! xoxo

  • Diana Chapman
    4 years ago

    I totally understand you – and I’ve never heard anyone comment on this so I don’t feel so bad now. I don’t mean to interrupt people but if I don’t say it RIGHT NOW I will forget it. The filter is sometimes “broken” and I say things I meant to totally keep to myself. At times it’s the “Find a Word Game” too. Sometimes I say mean things too. I said something to my spouse and he just looked at me and remarked that it was not normal for me to say things like that. And it wasn’t. Now I censor myself to the point I don’t speak much in groups for fear of what will come flying out of my mouth…I used to be very extroverted but not any more!

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    AH! I’m sorry you that you have to deal with it too – but I wrote this article so that people knew they weren’t alone… and I wanted to know if others experienced it too.
    I know in the past I’ve said something, then covered my mouth and whisper shouted, “Did I just say that out loud??!!”

    I can’t control the thoughts that go on in my head – so when it just randomly comes out of my mouth, it’s a big oops!

    Anyways, take care! xoxo

  • Gordy
    4 years ago

    Well written!
    ‘Broken Brain Filter’ is so true! I’ve always been a bit ‘ open mouth, insert foot’, but even moreso since my PPMS diagnosis in August last year.
    Part of it is that my job previously entailed talking with people on a variety of levels (as a Historical Guide in the UK), and suddenly my world has shrunk so that when I do talk, I tend to blurt at random, with outpourings of unfiltered thoughts. I need to check myself constantly , depending on who I’m with … it’s as though I’m in a race to say everything before it’s too late!
    I’ve already pruned this post for wandering into pointless territory, but I can say HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours!

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    Oh I know what you mean when you say your racing to get it all out… I do that a lot. People ask me to slow down when I’m talking… but I’m like NO I CAN’T!!! Cause I’ll forget! Let me get it out of my brain first then we can revisit lol

    Happy New Year!!!

  • Gordy
    4 years ago

    Well written!
    ‘Broken Brain Filter’ is so true! I’ve always been a bit ‘ open mouth, insert foot’, but even moreso since my PPMS diagnosis in August last year.
    Part of it is that my job previously entailed talking with people on a variety of levels (as a Historical Guide in the UK), and suddenly my world has shrunk so that when I do talk, I tend to blurt at random, with outpourings of unfiltered thoughts. I need to check myself constantly , depending on who I’m with … it’s as though I’m in a race to say everything before it’s too late!
    I’ve already prunbed this post for wandering into pointless territory, but I can say HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours!

  • Michele Phillips
    4 years ago

    Ashley…you nailed this “Brain-Filter” right on the head. I have not been diagnosed with MS but I am almost certain I do. I already have SLE, PsA, Psoriasis, Fibromyalgia and GAD. So it would not surprise me about the MS. I am hoping I don’t have it and maybe this cog-fog and brain-filter problem is from my Lupus-fog. Happy New Year!

  • Ashley Ringstaff moderator author
    4 years ago

    I hope you get some answers soon! It’s always nice to know we aren’t alone either!
    Keep fighting!

    Happy New Year to you as well!

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