First off, let me say I know a few people who genuinely have brain damage from accidents and other trauma, and I mean no disrespect. Secondly, I am not entirely new to blogging having had a pretty great (if I do say so myself) blog on Sparkpeople.com for about a year. What I mean by ‘I don’t have brain damage’ is that I have had no physical trauma to lead to my lapses in time, judgement or other realms of consciousness that I can point a finger towards and say, ‘Yep…that’s why I am the way I am’.
What are my symptoms? Large gaps in my consciousness. I have a SICK memory for detail, especially factoid/unimportant-in-the-big-scheme-of-things sort of detail, but it’s AMAZING to me the gaps in my memory. I am well aware that lots of people ‘forget’ people from their past and sweep unpleasant memories under their rugs. I am NOT most people. At my current age of 40, I can remember conversations from before I was six years old. My first real memory is my third birthday. The gaps in my memory are as recent as an exchange between me, several friends and my children that happened only three hours ago.
Some things to know about me:
1) I do NOT do recreational drugs
2) I am a wife, an artist and a mom to 8 year old twins.
3) I typically don’t drink heavily. For years, I barely drank at all, but between a lower back injury a year and a half ago causing both back and sciatic pain that I choose not to take pain pills for AND re-surging grief since my brother chose to leave us in December 2008 that usually bites me in the bum as soon as I think I’m pretty stable, I have my days (weeks and occasional months) in which I imbibe perhaps a wee bit more than would be doctor recommended. I’m on a better than average healthy kick these days, so I’ve been weening myself off my beloved wine and angling towards vodka-diet-tonics instead of late (lower carb and calorie, you see).
I typically don’t drink before the kids go to bed. I DO NOT drink if my husband isn’t home to play switch-hitter in listening for kid-issues. I don’t drink during the day.
Through grief counseling, I started to remember large chunks of my twenties that I’d largely and conveniently ‘forgotten’. The inconvenient part of it is that much of what I’d forgotten should have been dealt with before being tucked safely away inside my brain and perhaps I wouldn’t need the fabulous defense mechanisms. These things include both a stalking and stalking/harassment periods in which I gained an impressive amount of weight under the misguided idea that if I were less attractive, I wouldn’t be stalked and my loved-ones who were also targeted by these freaks would be safe.
In retrospect, I should thank my psyche for putting those memories on the back-burner as I don’t know that I would have had such great memories of our wedding or other big events that took place during those times had my psyche not swooped in to protect me.
Long story short- I have gaps that used to only pertain to the past that recently have moved into present day lapses in awareness. In quizzing my husband and a few close friends who witnessed them, the consensus is that I seemed very present in those gaps…interacting and contributing to conversations…responding to questions. It’s one thing to know I don’t have brain damage. It’s a whole other thing to try and identify what is causing the gaps in my recent memories.
Knowing that I’m missing some of my present, I am more motivated than ever to make the most of the daylight hours (as it seems to be early evening that the world gets fuzzy). I walk several miles every day with our Aussie dog Zane while our kids scooter ahead. I plan adventures for us to go on as a family. I tell myself it’s going to be o.k. Heck…I survived three stalkers, skin cancer and a pair of other potential cancer scares as well as the death of my brother who knew me better than almost anyone (my husband being the only one person who really does know me better). What’s a little memory-lapse among friends?