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Subject: Kinda weird; getting back into hobby + memory issues rss

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John Prewitt
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So I haven't really played a board game in 9 months. I moved states, was diagnosed as being bipolar, bought a house, etc. Lost of stuff happening.

I've still had a lot of free time and have been reading about and buying board games. I just don't play them anymore.

1) With my bipolar medication I just cannot remember rules. I read a rulebook and I forget it the next day. Like everything. Before I could read rules and remember them for weeks if not months. This is even true with games I'm familiar with. This is very frustrating.

2) This is dumb but how do you get back into playing games on the regular? House is all set-up, my condition is stable, etc. Just sit down and play?

Any advice appreciated. I know this is a weird thread.
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Steve C
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Do you enjoy board games as a social activity, or as a challenging puzzle to solve, or as a way to explore different themes/mechanics?
Do you just want something to do with a bit of spare time?

For me, board games are more social, so I would start out by looking for other players to play with. However, that is much easier said than done.

You might consider trying some app-based games (patchwork, onirim, or other games available as apps) since the app will remember all the rules and not judge you for forgetting them?
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Isaac Shalev
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I don't have any direct experience with your issue, but take it slow! Sounds like you, your body and your brain are still adjusting, and it may take more time before your memory comes back. As for playing regularly, best way I found was a meetup group. Eventually I started hosting too, but at first, it was easy to attend somewhere I knew there would be players and games.

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Perry Pender
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79strat wrote:
So I haven't really played a board game in 9 months. I moved states, was diagnosed as being bipolar, bought a house, etc. Lost of stuff happening.

I've still had a lot of free time and have been reading about and buying board games. I just don't play them anymore.

1) With my bipolar medication I just cannot remember rules. I read a rulebook and I forget it the next day. Like everything. Before I could read rules and remember them for weeks if not months. This is even true with games I'm familiar with. This is very frustrating.

2) This is dumb but how do you get back into playing games on the regular? House is all set-up, my condition is stable, etc. Just sit down and play?

Any advice appreciated. I know this is a weird thread.


I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to want to play a game you like but feel put off by the fact that the rules just to not stay in the old grey matter due to your condition. How about making up large player aids for each game that you can mount on a piece of MDF that you can place opposite you in your games room, lay out what games you want to play for that week, or long and sort out what you will need to play the game, leave it all set up and play/read the game/rules bit by bit each day until it starts to stick, or not as the case may be, it might be that all you need is a constant daily exposure to the rules/systems to help etch them into your cognitive thoughts process.

All the best either way

Perry
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Boaty McBoatface
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It maybe you need to get someone to help run game for you. The problem is that it is medication, memory loss due to injury or stroke can be helped by therapy.

One way maybe (assuming that is can be helped with therapy) to to get a couple of solitaire games and play those. It may help to get your brain back in gear. This is not so much about leaning new games as reacquiring old skills. So leaning simple games might be a help, then graduate as your brain starts to work again.
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Russ Williams
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79strat wrote:
1) With my bipolar medication I just cannot remember rules. I read a rulebook and I forget it the next day.


Consider exploring abstract strategy games - their rules are often extremely minimalist and simple, e.g. Blokus, Hex etc have rules which I think almost anyone can grok and remember.

(Many also have the advantage of being web-published or easily improvised with components you probably already own, e.g. Breakthrough or Amazons, so they can be less expensive than typical BGG-style euros.)


Also a lot of people seem to fall into the "cult of the new" trap, constantly learning new games, instead of replaying games they already know. Replaying games helps one remember their rules.
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Robbert Vervuurt
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I might not have been bipolar, but I have noticed that big amounts of stress have really affected my ability to concentrate and remember. I forget the most stupid things.

I got diagnosed with cancer last year (I'm alright now, nothing left but the checks every X months), and have noticed a clear difference in my ability to concentrate and remember things. Even small things like remembering to take a bottle of water from the fridge, when I come from the toilet, is stuff I forget.

A lot of people I know (through support groups) have been through chemo and/or radiation and experience the same, which is also why it's called chemo-brain (at least here in Denmark ). However, I have not had chemo and/or radiation, so I have kind of concluded that it must be stress related (and of course chemo and radiation add to that stress, so it adds to the brain problems).

I'm telling this story, because I think you have gone through a lot of stress lately. Both with your diagnose, but also with moving and other stuff that has been happening, which you didn't mention.

What I feel, is that by challenging my brain, it's actually slowly getting back to how it was before. I have always been a "fiddle head" (forgetting basal things, low concentration), but it definitely got worse after my diagnose.

Board gaming is one way of challenging my brain. Last Sunday, I played a 7-hour game of Through the Ages, demanding a lot of tactical thinking, planning ahead and figuring out how to "translate" the cubes to the most victory points. In the evening I was dead tired, but the day after, I felt very energetic.

So even though you forget the rules, I think it's important to keep on gaming (or do other stuff that challenges your brain). One's brain is like a muscle, and if not cared for, it'll degrade.

I don't know if the memory issues are a known side effect of the medicine? But if not, blame it on the stress and all the stuff happening the last 9 months and get back into the game (pun intended)!

Good luck
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Laura Creighton
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If play a game solo has any appeal, there's the 1PG https://boardgamegeek.com/guild/1303 , where you can get recommendations for games that solo well and, well, fit any other characteristic you like.
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Adria D
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One of my best friends went through something similar. She had ECT for her bipolar, and that really messed up her short term memory. But she tapered off the ECT, and her meds are all stable now, and her memory (and everything else in life) has improved dramatically.

During her recovery, she wanted to play games, even when her memory was shot. Her long-term memory was OK so she could play a few of her favorite games without too much help, but she's needed to re-learn many games. She still needs help with games newer to her, but is more or less fine with games she's played several times.

And I probably don't need to tell you that it was frustrating for her. She was constantly apologizing for asking the same questions and not grasping things right away, no matter how many times I told her she didn't need to. She's fluent in 3 languages and had little trouble remembering how to speak in another language (long-term memory), but couldn't remember the game she was in the process of learning, or had played 2 days ago.

I think having a consistent, patient game partner (or 2 or 3) who can help you with the rules would be helpful. Maybe you have a friend or family member interested in games? Or can find someone through a local game store or game meetup? Also, playing the same game should help make the rules stick. Don't jump from game to game to game. Put together a small group of games to rotate through for a while until you get comfortable with those. Add games to the rotation slowly, when you feel ready to tackle a new one.
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John Prewitt
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I’ll try to respond to everyone,

@Steve: I don’t like social games - I play solo or with my wife. I used to enjoy the puzzle/challenging aspect but it’s not in my head anymore. No interest in app games unfortunately since I’d just play video games at that point.

@Isaac: You’re probably right.

@Perry: It is very frustrating. Especially if I read a 40 page rulebook and it’s gone in 2 hours =/. I have some experience making player aids and think that’s a great idea. Take notes on the rules maybe.

@Russ: Never been into abstract games really. I am in the cult of the new thing lol. About 20 games on my shelf I haven’t played yet. Own more now than I ever have and play less than I ever have.

@Robbert: Very stressful year indeed. Glad you beat cancer that’s fantastic. Yeah I’ll forget what I’m saying in the middle of a sentence at least 10 times a day. That’s klonopin for ya, but if I don’t take it I get severe panic attacks as I have panic disorder related to the bipolar thing. The stress from the move was huge as it wasn’t planned. We were kicked out of our house because our landlord wanted more money and we couldn’t afford another rental place in Los Angeles so it was a massive move with about 10 days notice. I think you’re right about challenging my brain.. I’ve been trying to read more which is something I used to do every day and now I’ve just started again as it’s hard, but I have to train myself to get back into it. The side effects of memory loss are definitely a side effect of just about every med I take (lamactil, klonopin, lithium) but the stress of buying a house (and having 2 roommates move out within 30 days) is kind of intense. But I’m very happy to have my OWN house with my wife.

@Laura: Thanks, I’m actually a member of that guild I believe - I play solo 90% of the time.

@Adria: Never had ECT or even heard of it. I’m like bouncing around meds right now trying to find what works. Insomnia from some and insane energy from others. Tapering off of Lexapro (SSRI) right now so that’s another variable. I’m hoping I get the same results as your friend. I can play Mage Knight and Kingdom Death just fine since I’ve played them so much but new games are very, very hard to learn and remember. So I sound like I’m in the same boat as her. Heh, I chuckled since I do the exact same thing - I’ll ask the same question 3-5 times about anything during the day. I read the whole rulebook to Nero’s War and was sitting there like, uhh what did I just read.

It's very odd, I'll have thoughts and 5 seconds later it's like... I know I was thinking about something, where'd it go? What am I doing? I even forget what year it is sometimes lol.

Overall I think I just need to start slow and practice, and I like the player aid idea. I’m a big “note taking” guy anyway. Helps me remember things. Thanks all!
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Anna F.
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I've had stress and drug related cognitive impairment before and it's often not permanent. You get used to drugs after a few months and stress also goes back down. I was in your shoes not too long ago.

Maybe that means just playing easy games for now or playing with house rules. Kids games and dexterity games can be great fun.

Look at it this way, if you broke your leg you wouldn't run a 5k right after the cast came off. Well, your brain is broken just like a leg and it needs soft treatment for a while to heal.
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John Prewitt
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snapdragon23 wrote:


Look at it this way, if you broke your leg you wouldn't run a 5k right after the cast came off. Well, your brain is broken just like a leg and it needs soft treatment for a while to heal.


Good point. Does feel like my brain is broke lol.
 
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John Burt
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If the drugs are only hitting your short term memory, then one strategy might be to set aside the time to learn a new game, and then play the hell out of it (and nothing else!) for a while, which will hopefully allow your brain to integrate the knowledge into medium and then long term memory.
 
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Walt
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You might try some baby steps to get back in the groove:

• Read a favorite book you've read before
• Stick to tactical games--games where you can decide on the information on this turn, without long term consequences; Carcassonne is pretty good in that respect.
• Avoid heavy, if-they-do-this-I'll-have-to-do-X games like chess.
• Don't try to multitask, like listening to something while you play.

Alcohol interacts with Klonopin, so don't try to drink and think.

Talk with your doc about this. It may be your dosage is too high. Docs tend to dose by rule of thumb but everyone is different. Do NOT change dose without your doc's involvement. Klonopin has extreme withdrawal effects that are very likely to be mis-diagnosed; a relative forgot to take their dose for a night or two (one causing the second), his idiot friend thought they were drunk and said so to the ER, and the doc there stopped all medications "to clean out their system" which made the problem worse! Symptoms of withdrawal cannot be easily distinguished from heavy alcohol use withdrawal.

Losing one's train of thought is pretty normal. You're looking for symptoms now, so now you're counting the times. One thing that might help is asking friends to wait a beat before responding to you; sometimes they may think you're done speaking, but actually you need a second to get to the next thought--their talking will disrupt your thinking.

I am not a doctor; this is not medical advice. Good luck.
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If you haven't looked into them already you could try using Universal Head's game summaries. They are basically super streamlined break downs of many popular games rulebooks, and a lot time the last page or so is a turn sequence break down of what is happening each turn, so even if the rules aren't sticking you can still just follow along to play through the game.
 
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Ann Asbury
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I second others' suggestions of sticking to tactical games and playing one game repeatedly until it becomes part of your long-term memory. (Although that may sound boring, once that 'first game' hurdle is past, other games will become 'just like [first game] except for this thing or that thing' and it will help you build a framework to store new game memories more easily.) Other things that may help:

try games with short turns where each turn is only one or two actions and there aren't a lot of fiddly little things to remember to do before and after a turn (7th continent is great for this)

iconography is your friend- once that picture makes sense and you connect it to an action, it will help you remember the next step

if you start to feel overwhelmed try listening to music with your eyes closed or looking out the window- just for a few minutes to let your brain absorb the information before you continue

play games where you physically move the pieces in roughly the same way each round- you will build muscle memory to help drive your thought process

be open about your limitations- trying to keep up with your old routine by downplaying or hiding your limitations uses up brain energy and will actually hinder your progress

try 'how to play' videos instead of rulebooks

surround yourself with people you trust who know your situation

there is probably a certain time of day that you are at your best- use that to your advantage

it looks like you like heavy games so try to learn them in phases- Mage Knight has lots of tricky little rules that are easy to forget for any player, that may be one to work towards but not to start with

try not to get frustrated- it really will get better but it does take a while
 
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John Prewitt
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Thanks for the advice. Luckily I can still play Mage Knight cool
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