August 24th, 2016


I Am 35, Losing My Memory (Mind?), and Scared

I've always been a bit 'scatter-brained', but my memory has gotten consistently worse since my mom's death in 2008. I remember that entire week so very vividly...and then maybe a handful of moments from the next few years. I started having blood pressure issues after having Maya in 2011, and while they're under control now (off the meds, even!), I still wonder if I didn't have a stroke a few years back when I lost all of my words one afternoon. For considering myself something of a writer, that was especially scary. If there's one thing I've always had, it's words.

At this point, I reckon that I can't remember at least half of my life, probably way more, and new memories seem very hard to make. Since I used to have a damn near perfect memory as a child, this is particularly frustrating for me. Most of my memories are from age 2-8, especially the years I lived in Illinois near my family. I know my clinging to that huge batch of memories is due to my abusive upbringing. My mom met my stepdad when I was eight, and I used to long for and obsess over the time when our lives were so free and happy. And yet while I did block out most of the abuse except for the really bad ones (in theory...more on that later) that stick out, I used to have a good recollection of the happy times I had as a kid. I don't have many of those anymore, and since I especially yearn for memories of my Momma, that hurts. While I know logically that we moved around a lot, and I lived -here- and -here- in third grade, -here- in fourth and fifth, -there- in sixth, etc., I maybe have one or two actual memories per year anymore.

I do remember a lot more from my late teens and twenties, when I was finally living on my own. This is why I figured it was probably abuse related and not a physical cause like stroke. There's one particular instance when I was given a good dose of morphine in the hospital, was taken home by Josh, and then lost my shit as I relived a very scary repressed memory, this one involving my mom rather than stepdad. What really freaked me out about that particular time was that once I remembered it, I knew it clearly & realized that it had only happened 3 or 4 years earlier. The fact that it was so recent and I just la-de-da'd around the two people who did know about it, and I hadn't, really freaked me out. I wondered how much more of those things I had lost and how bad they were (I always thought I had more emotional/mental abuse than physical, but what if I'd just pushed the worst physical ones away?), but I actually didn't want to know. Incidentally, I also list that I'm allergic to morphine now on my medical records, because I will never get near that stuff again.

Not that I didn't do my share of drugs at some point. I won't lie about that; I'd always been such a goody-goody my whole life (definite self-preservation), so I'd fully enjoyed my 'party year'. It had only been a year, maybe year and a half, and I knew a lot of people who did that for many years without seeming to have any memory issues. Now, I did some really good stuff and a couple really bad ones before becoming a bit more discerning. Perhaps it's that spunion phase catching up with me a half century earlier than expected.

My mom had started fretting a bit about her own memory before she died. I seem to recall her grumbling about possible early-onset dementia and buying less snacks and exercising more. I believe she's the one who first mentioned crosswords being helpful, and she started doing those at night. I don't know if she had actual medical problems or was just worried about aging, because to me, she had always seemed overly concerned with how she was aging. There's a lot I wish I could ask her about her and my grandma & great-grandma's medical histories. I know a bit, but I think maybe not enough.

For me, it's gone far beyond simple forgetfulness anymore. I literally cannot remember anything if I don't write it down, and I have a great many notebooks and often forget where I put which one. There were a couple of times that I ran late picking up the kids from summer camp because I actually forgot. My kids are my world, and they're what I'm able to focus on the most. Plus, you know, it's not like the house isn't incredibly, vastly, noticeably different when the three of them aren't here. While those two times were just embarrassing, I've recently had some scarier instances of driving down the road and not knowing where I'm going. Usually it's just, “Whoops, what am I doing again?”, but I turned the wrong way once and had to check the time to figure out where I was supposed to be going, confirm I actually was headed elsewhere, and turn myself back the right way. The galling part is that I wasn't on “driver auto-pilot” or going by some kind of daydreaming muscle memory, because I'd actually turned the opposite way from where I usually turn. And I wasn't quite sure why I wasn't home.

So, yeah, it's gotten scarier. The doctor whom I thought I really liked & who would help me through both physical and mental health issues actually ended up turning super-crappy and willfully made both worse. I'm still fuming over our last few encounters, which are some of those so charged as to be vividly recalled, but she's left the practice and good riddance. I swapped to two other health centers (still in the same network) and don't mind the extra drive to get people who will actually help me. I now see a nurse-practitioner, which Josh seemed to initially be doubtful about after my experience with Dr. Evil. He doesn't like doctors anyway. I pointed out that nurses are the ones who actually do things, so I was optimistic. And so far, so good! Within our first meeting, I had my necessary meds back and an appointment for a CT scan. Which came back normal. I do have an appointment for an MRI, but they can't get me in before late November.

I've been trying to research and do things on my own to get better. I've picked up some word searches, though no crosswords yet. And I haven't done them yet, but I will. I'm attempting to start a 'memory palace'. I know we're supposed to use a place that we know well, but I have an actual castle that I'm trying to learn exceptionally well for my novel, so I'm trying to memorize that. I know my entry area fairly well but only recently sat down to design a whole, huge, crazy magical castle and grounds. I need to learn the insides and outsides of it...but my notebook isn't where I usually put it, and I can't recall where else I might have put it. I'm working on that, too. I'm also trying to eat better, eat more fish or take fish oil, exercise more, learn new skills, cut back on caffeine, have a screen-free hour before bed (that's still on the missier side of hit-or-miss), read more books again, be fully present during conversations, consciously try to make memories of wonderful moments, get out with friends (also more miss than hit, but at least I'm trying), manage my depression better, and get more organized. Yes, I had to check my list because I couldn't remember all of it. These things are supposed to help. I was doing a couple apps for a while, but I didn't really keep up with them. I guess I should start again, if I can make room for them on my cheapo phone.

I've also decided that I'm going to attempt to remember my happiest, favorite memories and log them here. It bothers me that it's so hard to make new memories of my beautiful family. This is the happy part of my life, with a family I love. I don't know why I'm struggling so hard now, when I did so well during the bad time! I don't want to lose these great moments, so I'm going to revisit them and start a new 'Memories' tag here on lj (different from the memories feature on our profile pages). I will read them and read them and read them so that I don't lose them. And if I do keep losing them anyway, or losing myself, which I am greatly fearing these days, I'll still have them here to revisit.