My memory seems to be slipping

I’m realizing, more and more, how many things I just plain forget. I was talking to someone yesterday who was angry over me being concerned about them getting words turned around and facts confused — they said that they have been doing much better with regard to that, and they don’t do it nearly as much now, as they used to.

I said I was just concerned, and they said I didn’t need to be, because they’ve been improving… but I wouldn’t know that, because there are lots of things I forget. They said I was in no position to comment, when I couldn’t remember the past well enough to compare it to the present.

I think my memory has been slipping… and in fact, it’s aways been a bit spotty. There are vast chunks of time in my childhood that I cannot recall. My parents have talked many, many times about people and events that I cannot for the life of me recall. In fact, when she starts telling me about people or places or things she thinks I should remember, my mother usually asks me straight off, if I recall such-and-such or so-and-so.

I often have to say “No, I don’t remember.”

Oh, well.

Does it dramatically impact my quality of life? I’m not sure. Certainly, when I forget where I put library books and I rack up fines, that doesn’t help. But my fines help support the library, in however small a way. When I misplace my USB memory stick that has important files on it — I literally lose my memory twice 😉 — it’s not much fun. And when I forget to mail things that need to go out in the mail that day, it can cause problems. But none of these things are earth-shattering, and I can usually work around them.

And use tools. Like keeping a notebook with me to write things down that I need to do, in the order I need to do them. Like using my calendar at work and color-coding my activities, so I have a context and an understanding of what I’m supposed to do. Like asking for help when I need it, without feeling self-conscious and stupid. Like developing the habit of putting things back in the same place, every single time.

In a way, my habits and lists make me even more functional than some people I know, who just assume that their memories will work. I don’t lose my glasses or my gloves or my wallet or my car keys, because I’m so strict with myself about always (and I mean always) putting them in exactly the same place, every single time. I don’t deviate from certain aspects of my routines — like always hanging up my car keys in their allotted place, as soon as I enter the house, like always putting my gloves back in my coat pockets, like always checking for my wallet before I go anywhere, and always keeping my sunglasses in the car in their case in the glove compartment of my car.

People have called me a variety of names, because I’m so strict with myself: nazi, anal-retentive, rigid, inflexible, too-strict… you name it. But these people don’t realize that if I deviate just a tiny bit from my routine and my ways of doing things, I can really get lost. If things aren’t where I expect them to be, my brain forgets that they exist. And that’s about the last thing I need to happen with my keys, my wallet, my sunglasses, or my gloves.

I do what I have to. And I get by.

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Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

2 thoughts on “My memory seems to be slipping”

  1. Absolutely no deviation. It is true. Honestly it is the only way and these habits take a while to become solid and sink in. My Cognitive Rehab doc says, “Stop measuring your accomplishments with the old yardstick.” As a math teacher, I have a little trouble with this metaphor but I know what she means. There are new benchmarks and comparing myself to those old ones makes me depressed. I am not going to be that person ever again. Thanks for your posts!


  2. Hi Alyson – Yes, that old person I was is gone, too… it’s so strange to think about it. It is a hard one to take, especially at this time of year, when I meet with family who don’t live with me on a daily basis and cannot see how I am different — especially in the better ways!

    Having other people expect me to be the same old “me” just reminds me of how much I have changed, and it highlights the ways I need to adjust. So long as I can compare myself in productive, constructive ways, I’m okay. But when I start expecting unrealistic things of myself — like being able to “wing it” with chores I need to do, or tasks I need to complete — then I get into trouble.

    And that’s no good!

    That new yardstick can be a real life-saver.


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