It still feels like January 14 2018 to me – the day of my last triathlon and when I got heatstroke.I’ve lost the sense of who I am because the inflammation has unwired the memory centre of my brain.
I feel like I’ve had all the cords cut in head, random thoughts float around in my head, I’m lost the nothingness of now.
Without reference points, there is no sense of past, present or future, I’m living in a world without time. It’s been difficult to gauge my progress through recovery as I can’t remember each stage.
Forgetting the Story of My Life
The story we tell ourselves is our autobiography memory, a series of events strung together in our minds to create the concept of who we are.
Losing long term memories happened so suddenly for me, that I hardly noticed it until a few weeks after the heatstroke, I tried to remember where I went to school. And I just couldn’t. Blank. A big black hole in my head.
I’d be walking in the mall, bump into people who I vaguely have a sense that I’d seen them before. I say hello, how are you? And have a quick conversation. For the life of me, can’t remember their name.
Later my sister reminds me, that your friend from high school – do you remember how much fun we had acting in the musical, Annie?
I asked, we did a musical?
I feel totally lost within my own story, I can’t remember my past so I find it difficult to plan my future.
How to Boil a Kettle?
Getting through my day is hard enough without long term memories, as I’d even forget new things that were happening to me. It would drive me crazy trying to recall where I last put down my lip balm, was it in my jeans pocket? Did I leave it in the bathroom? In the car? I’d waste hours looking for that damn lip balm.
Talking on the phone to my sister, I ask her three times in three minutes what she was doing on the weekend. And when chatting to friends constantly asking, …have I told you this story already? Burning my fingers many times, forgetting things are hot when they come out of the oven.
One day, I wanted a cup of tea.
So I boiled the kettle
Within an instant, I’d forgotten why I boiled the kettle
Two minutes later, the kettle boiled
I just happen to walk past the kettle and noticed it is hot and steaming
Hmmm, why did I boil the kettle?
I’d forgotten that I wanted a cup of tea.
I’d also completely forgotten what kettles are designed for.
What is a kettle for? What do I do with boiling water?
I walk away, it is just too hard to deal with this mystery machine
Thirty minutes later, I see my cup with the tea bag and no water in it.
Why is there no water in my cup?
Why didn’t I boil the kettle?
Living like this is like being in slow motion, minute to minute forgetting what I was doing, why I’m doing it or even why things existed. I feel constantly frustrated and unproductive as I’d retrace my steps or go over and over things I’d already done that day. I can’t even begin to describe the challenge it is to attach something to an email.
In this black hole, the days fly, turn into weeks, months and now I find it’s the end of 2018. What even happened in 2018?
Feel totally lost in my head. And totally lost in the world.
Imagining the Future
Essential to any recovery is holding a vision of what you’d like your life to be when you are well. This is been so difficult for me as I can’t remember where I came from or why I am here.
With no dreams, goals or future I don’t have anything to look forward to and all I’ve got is this very moment. Everything is happening in the now. This injury has bought me smack bang into the present.
I wonder if I can’t remember who I am, where I came from and what I was doing, am I still me?
Who I Am Without Memories of Myself?
“Memory is everything. Without it we are nothing”Eric Kandel
I’ve lost some good memories, like my holiday to Europe last year and competing at the Triathlon World Championships in Rotterdam. I’ve forgotten my girlfriends names and who I use to hang out with.
I can’t just live in the moment, without any reference to the past or future because I don’t know where I’ve been and don’t know where I’m going.
Are There Any Benefits to Memory Loss?
“…growth involves giving up stories of your past so the universe can write a new one”Marianne Williamson
I’ve forgotten some old hurts and pains from the past that have been wiped from my mind. I’ve lost memory of some tough times, a miscarriage while on holiday in Las Vegas, marriage and divorce 12 months later.
It seems those things don’t matter anymore, and I can live more in the present with less emotional garbage. It’s as if my brain having a break, having a little holiday, allowing me to break free, fresh start and start again.
I find it very confronting and refreshing at the same time.
The Brain Can Heal
Luckily the memory loss is not permanent, as the inflammation in my brain shifts, the neurons will reconnect and I’ll get my memories back. I’ve started cognitive brain exercises, one hour a day to retrain my brain to think, recall and rewire. It’s tiring work after one session I feel like I’ve run 10k.
Writing blog helps me remember certain things and helps me digest the year I’ve had. To be honest, I’ve relied on my diary to write each blog which takes two to three weeks to finish as it’s so taxing on my nervous system.
Keeping in Touch
The hardest thing about losing memory is losing touch with friends and commnity, and it’s not because I wanted to.
I told my girlfriend, I’ll call you tomorrow, we haven’t caught up in ages.
Three weeks later, I think, hmmm I think I was meant to call my girlfriend.
But I can’t remember which one?
My OT says to write lists to help me remember things. My mum says to keep a visual calendar to remember what I did last weekend. My hypnosists says to trust my brain to heal the memories are still in there sitting in my unconsciousness. My sister reminds me constantly of all the wonderful things I’ve done, experienced and people I love.
I’ll write more lists and try to remember to call but if I don’t it’s not cause I didn’t want to, I just forgot.
Thanks for listening