I have no memory.
Alright, I’m being a little tongue in cheek here. But, most days I really do feel like I have no memory. Who knows when it began. I’ve always had some memory retention issues growing up. It drove everyone around me batty. I can’t say as I liked it much. When I was younger, it wasn’t that bad. I could still memorize mindless trivia, some historical data, recall many familial events, and recite some conversations back word for word. There was a presence of auditory memory retention problems, although it was mild. I’d had episodes of depression off and on since my early teens. I’d been in therapy too. No diagnosis. No medication until adulthood. Even then, the medication was more to treat the ADD I’d been diagnosed with.
But all of that changed when I had my first psychotic break.
In the span of three days, I was given a confirmed diagnosis for three conditions. In that same amount of time I started receiving more medication than I thought possible. It was kind of surreal. There were minimal side effects at first. I lived with it. The most interesting being the flat metallic taste to my soda. These medications were going to keep me alive.
What I didn’t understand at first, was medications take time to build up. The side effects generally appear within the first two weeks or so, and then diminish. In my ignorance, some of the more prominent effects took precedence and I didn’t realize it. Others were ignored. I didn’t think to tell my doctor about them when I felt off.
About six months later, I ended up in an adult partial program. The doctor completely changed my medication regime. He took medications away. He added medications. I wasn’t in the program long enough for him to see all of the side effects. If I had been, I would have told him that I noticed I was having problems remembering things. And, I wasn’t talking about my auditory memory retention issues.
New doctors. New medications. Trying to find something that worked more consistently. Memory retention/loss was becoming a more noticeable. I started to become concerned.
A year later, I was in the partial program again. Same doctor. Different medications. At this point, I get put on the regime of medications that I pretty much will take from here on.
It’s funny how no one seemed overly concerned about the cognitive memory retention/loss difficulties to my medications. Most of what I’d been told was that it probably one or two medications, and a condition of my diagnosis.
One day, I decide to do research…research I should have done long ago. I discovered that every psychiatric medication I’m taking has the side effect of effecting memory. I should be angry, but actually I’m relieved. I finally have an answer as to why I can’t remember my dad’s phone number. Why I can’t remember when my son’s PTA meeting is. Why I can’t remember where I put the rent money for the month. Why can’t I remember events from their growing-up years (this is the one that hurts).
Since I’m not about to give up my medications, and my memory is not going to get better; I learned to take steps to help me function.
Jae’s Steps to Regain Her Brain (Somewhat)
1. I got a smartphone. And it is that…smart.
2. Several apps for Smartphone (Some came from the Internet)
Camera (Take pictures when you don’t have time to write all notes)
Note Taking App
3. Find designated place to put important things, like keys and wallet, so you don’t misplace.
I continue to explore for ideas. I figure there could always be something out there that’s a better coping tool. But the best thing is to keep a sense of humor. It could be worse. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t like to have an avenue for which my kids to take advantage of me. (I did do it, Mom. I told you, remember?) And I’m sure some people would like me to stop asking them the same questions two or three times. But, I do still remember my name, so I’ve got that going for me.
Read more from Jae here.