Friday, January 25, 2019

Exercises in memory

One of the things I struggle a lot with post AFE is my loss of memory. Easily the MOST annoying things is when people try to pander to me about my memory. Or try to relate. I hear a lot of, "Oh my god, I know- I'm so forgetful the older I get!" or "I get that- I can't remember last week either." and I'll be honest and tell you in my head I'm envisioning punching people in the face. I'm not proud of it but it really is a testament to the strength of my medication because I'm able to smile and nod my  head and move on quickly.
Because it is absolutely nothing like age related forgetfulness or being busy and forgetting what you did for a minute there. If you had to you could stop and think back, recall what you did generally and be able to tell someone. You can recall stories with ease and when your kids ask you what they were like as a toddler you can tell them. When your doctor asks you if you have had any problems you can talk about some symptom that's bothering you. When they ask when your last period is you give the general month at least, be able to tell them when you ate last or when you took your pills that day.

I cannot.

I cannot do any of those things.
Lately I am realizing that I forget that I forget. It's not so glaringly obvious every day to me anymore and for that I'm grateful. It's nice to forget that you forget. It's not so much of a problem then. And if I don't put any effort into remembering something, sometimes the memories is just there. Sometimes someone will say something and suddenly I have a memory, or a fragment of a memory, and I can join into a conversation like a normal person. Only the people closest to me can tell when the memory scatters away because I'll end a sentence with, "yeah... huh. I remember that." I'll abruptly end a memory as if I don't want to reveal all of it. I do. But I can't. It's gone, like I only get to borrow it as if it's not even mine.

Sometimes it's not so bad. Life gets busy and I have too much happening around me to remember what Olivia looked like when she was two. Then other times Jackson wants to see pictures of some trip he remembers and I have to desperately figure out when that was. I have tens of thousands of photos on my computer meticulously labeled but it doesn't really help most of the time because it's like looking at the life of strangers.
Then there are other times where I will try to challenge myself to remember and I start looking at old photos. I will ask the kids if they remember. I look back on old blog posts for an explanation of what we were doing, who are the people in the photos, where were we. 
Most of the time I cry. It's really hard to look through all of these memories and not have them in my mind. They are all so personal and I just want to be able to have them.  I try to imagine what I was feeling as I took the picture. Try to figure out why I chose that exact moment to snap a photo.
Sometimes it feels like having a house fire take all of your possessions. No  matter how badly you want those things back you can't have them. You can't replace them. All you have are what you can remember. 
I feel like everything has been stolen from me. It's actually pretty scary sometimes. When I forget where I live is really scary. I will often forget who I should call. How to make that call. How to ask for help. Where do you go for help. Did I have my kids with me? Maybe I forgot them somewhere and now someone has taken them and everyone is going to say I'm a bad mom. 
I worry that this is just going to get worse as I get older. I'm afraid the fact that it's not coming back isn't a good sign, like the longer I go without having my memory back means those memories are falling more and more into the recesses of my mind.

I know people try to compare their issues to mine to somehow try to make me feel better, make me think that it's really not that bad. I know it's bad. I know there isn't anything a person can say or do to make it better. You don't have to sugar coat it for me. It's OK to tell me when whatever it is that I'm experiencing isn't normal and it's damn sure not good, that it is really awful and you can't even understand it or how I do it.

It's OK to say it because I say these things to myself every day.

It's hard to look at pictures of the person that looks like me because I feel in my bones that person is gone. She really did leave and I feel like a fraud. I'm in the wrong body, the wrong life. These people think I'm this person and I'm not. I feel more disconnected than I already do. I try to think about what this mom would do in my situation. I hope I'm doing as good of a job as she obviously did. A lot of days I very much feel like I'm not up to par and my family is too nice to say so. I wonder if Matt feels a difference. I don't even dream anymore. Well, that's not true. The dreams I do have aren't ones anyone wants. It's just episodes of scary moments, a stereo playing a tape telling me I'm not supposed to be here and I need to go and all the ways I could do it, or me strapped to a table in a hospital actively dying. That's all that I dream.

It's a bizarre way to live.

But I do these exercises in memory often. I keep thinking eventually if I see these things enough my brain will come back online.


Shybiker said...

I'm so sorry. I didn't know you were struggling with this. Memory is such a basic function we take for granted. Obviously you're doing your best; it's so sad you have to. My deepest sympathies. Best of luck to you.

Beth (Coffee Until Cocktails) said...

I think that has to be one of the hardest parts of what you deal with on daily basis. I'm glad you try to help yourself remember by looking at the pictures. I hope that maybe someday it will get better. All the love to you!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

You're right, it really does suck. I have no idea how you do it every day and I HOPE with all my heart that memories will come back to you as time goes on. And I really hate that you only have bad dreams now. :( I'm sorry, Sara.


San said...

Photos are usually so good in triggering memories. It must be incredibly frustrating to look at pictures and not have them trigger the corresponding memories... you really have a lot to deal with. :(