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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.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 24th, 2016 04:41 pm (UTC)
To start with big giant hugs coming your way.

I wouldn't worry about not remembering things from when you were younger. I'm 100% the same way and without any kind of abuse I may have blocked. I have very few early memories, up till about High school when things get clearer. Recently I saw a picture of my brother in a baseball uniform, he was about 10 which would have put me at 11-12. I have zero memory of his ever playing though apparently I went to all of his games.

But my short term memory is fine, unless I'm super stressed then I forget all kinds of stuff that are normally part of my daily routine.

I find the more I have to remember for other people the more I forget my own stuff.

Writing thingd down helps me a lot. especially writing about something that's happened. It's like putting it to paper makes it real.

I hope you find the answers you need, that it's something that can be fixed or at least dealt with.

Oh and a thought, any meds your on that might have memory loss as a side effect?
Aug. 24th, 2016 05:30 pm (UTC)
I don't seem to have short-term memory at all anymore, I think. None of my meds should have such a side effect that I'm aware of, but all this was going on before I was able to go to the doc for help/meds to begin with. I've only very recently been able to start getting proper medical care again, maybe in the last 2-3 yrs. But I'll keep at it until we figure it out!
Aug. 25th, 2016 05:58 am (UTC)
Get your thyroid checked, if you can. If your TSH is up near 4, ask if your doctor would be willing to put you on a trial 2 month prescription of synthroid, "just to see" if that helps.

It did wonders for me - my TSH is kept around 1ish and oh god, I have my memory and clarity of thought back.
Aug. 25th, 2016 10:40 am (UTC)
I did have my thyroid checked a couple times a while back. The first time they said I was 'borderline' and put me on meds just in case, but I went off them after losing care, and when I was able to get a new provider, they said it was fine.
Aug. 29th, 2016 05:09 pm (UTC)
This sounds pretty alarming to me? If it's a serious problem hampering your day-to-day life? I would try to get a second opinion or consult with a doc.
Aug. 30th, 2016 05:39 pm (UTC)
It's definitely alarming to me, especially since it only seems to be getting worse. I'm actually on my 5th opinion since the incident when I lost my words. Finding quality healthcare has been tough. I had to rely on free clinics before I got a full time job & insurance, only I didn't find much luck with the insurance doc either, and now I'm relying on medicaid. Luckily, I've been able to swap providers, and I now have both a therapist and a nurse practitioner who are both serious about helping me figure this out.
Sep. 3rd, 2016 02:48 am (UTC)
That is definitely scary. Keep after the docs and nurses please. You need to figure out what is going on. I had a horrible migraine once where I was not able to speak properly. I just could not get the words formed to speak them. Have you overhead migraines? I wouldn't think that would cause memory loss though but it might explain you loss of words that one day.

There are a lot of reasons you could have memory issues besides just you blocking them out for some reason. Have you had a concussion or head injury? Some medications can cause it. Nutritional deficiencies could cause it. Sleep deprivation. I'm sure other things as well.

I'll think good thoughts for you and hope you find improvement.
Sep. 3rd, 2016 03:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the ideas! I'm going to make another appt with the nurse practitioner when they reopen after labor day. I have a few more leads to pursue, and I'm not just waiting around til the MRI in November. I did bring it up with my therapist again last week. The depression has been getting better but the memory issue worse, and I don't think she quite grasped just how bad it's gotten for me. She urged me to keep looking into it as well.

I did have a head injury once, a good 12-13 yrs ago by now. This started before I was taking meds regularly, but the one I'm taking shouldn't be contributing to the issue. My sleep is always all over the place, but I'm consciously working on that as well.
Sep. 21st, 2016 02:28 am (UTC)
I believe PTSD can have associated memory issues anyway... also maybe you have ADD? Apparently it can get undiagnosed as a child and High IQ and high functioning can obscure it.
Sep. 21st, 2016 02:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the tips! I never thought I had ADD or ADHD, but looks like many of the symptoms fit the problems I've been having. I'll have to bring that up when I get back to the therapist.
Oct. 5th, 2016 07:59 pm (UTC)
I have Complex PTSD and it has caused serious black holes in my memory. When it was untreated, I had a lot of trouble remembering simple things. PTSD actually shrinks the hippocampus so can wreck havoc on memory.

Keep chasing those docs! Hope you find a solution.
Oct. 6th, 2016 01:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! I didn't know about PTSD shrinking the hippocampus. They said everything looked fine on my one test -- CAT or MRI? I can't remember. I've had one and go for the other next month. At any rate, I'll bring it up when I see the nurse again.

May I ask what they treated it with that helped your memory? No one has mentioned anything in that area, and since I keep stressing how the memory continues to get worse even as we find things to help my depression, it really bothers me. I guess they're just expecting it to fall back into working, but I seem the only one seriously concerned about the memory issues so far. :/
Oct. 7th, 2016 03:42 am (UTC)
I'm not sure it would show in a run of the mill MRI or CAT scan. From the second article:

The most significant neurological impact of trauma is seen in the hippocampus. PTSD patients show a considerable reduction in the volume of the hippocampus. This region of the brain is responsible for memory functions. It helps an individual to record new memories and retrieve them later in response to specific and relevant environmental stimuli. The hippocampus also helps us distinguish between past and present memories.
PTSD patients with reduced hippocampal volumes lose the ability to discriminate between past and present experiences or interpret environmental contexts correctly. Their particular neural mechanisms trigger extreme stress responses when confronted with environmental situations that only remotely resemble something from their traumatic past. This is why a sexual assault victim is terrified of parking lots because she was once raped in a similar place. A war veteran still cannot watch violent movies because they remind him of his trench days; his hippocampus cannot minimize the interference of past memories.



My memory for some things got better when I healed and was stabilized on medication. I only take Celexa and a teeny tose of clonazepam now, but my PTSD was first treated with topamax, which was also a bipolar treatment. The topamax had some wicked side effects that i live with still even after three years off of it (it may have caused or contributed to my kidney issues), but it helped. Only drawback is topamax can also be known as "dopamax" as it causes some people to lose words and to feel like their brain is filled with rocks. I only had that a little bit, for me the worst side effects were on the kidneys and that it made everything taste like crap, or taste wierd.

That said...the therapy from the psychiatrist i saw (who was an authority on PTSD, I was lucky) and the medication slowly brought me back to "life" so to speak. I still have black holes in my memories from childhood and my memory for details kind of stinks, but otherwise I'm a lot better.

The more my anxiety hit the roof, the worse my memory was. Once that was under control and meds took me out of the fog, i got/am much better.

PTSD is tricky to treat..therapy, medication, and healing over time are all a delicate balance.

Complex PTSD is my diagnosis. There's great info here:

I would see the nurse and try to get referred to a good psychiatrist or psych nurse..and if they suck, see another. not all are great with PTSD!! I just remember from some of the things you said occured to you in the past..this is a possibility.

((hugs)) feel free to email me anytime about this stuff.

ETA: an excellent book on the subject is Judith Herman, "Trauma and Recovery". Its a tad textbooky, but a good read.https://www.amazon.ca/Trauma-Recovery-Aftermath-Violence-Political/dp/0465087302 she also operates largely from a feminist perpsective, which we both appreciate. :D Oddly, this book was required reading for me in school before I was diagnosed.

Edited at 2016-10-07 03:43 am (UTC)
Oct. 7th, 2016 02:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow, thanks so much! I'm heading out this morning, but I look forward to reading those when I have time this evening. I'll take notes to bring to the doctor next time!

I'm pretty certain that I have PTSD from at least a few traumatic incidents. My therapist seems to agree, although she doesn't seem to worry too much with officially diagnosing me. But she's very supportive of my goals to get a psychiatric/PTSD service dog. The psychiatrist I just saw didn't seem particularly helpful, and I think she doesn't do therapy so much as meds. I have a nice therapist though. Psychiatrist gave me abilify, I think it is (generic version, anyway) since it's supposed to help boost anti-depressants. She thought it would help since I have a history of reacting badly/oddly to medications. So far it is working tremendously! It's only 2 mg, and maybe it's even placebo, I don't know, but I feel like I've had so much more energy since shortly after I started.

Not helping the memory though. So I really look forward to learning more about this and discussing it with them. I have a doc (well, nurse) appt next week, so I'll bring it up. Thank you!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


Ahavah Ehyeh

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