Write it down, or risk forgetting

I read something really useful the other day over at Give Back LA — the reminder that I absolutely need to write things down, or I run the very real risk of forgetting them.

I must admit, I have gotten away from doing this, over the past months. For some reason, I seem to think I can use other compensatory techniques to keep in mind what is important. And to some extent it works. But that’s a load of crap.

If I don’t write it down, I might as well wave good-bye, because there’s no guarantee that it’s coming back.

My memory, to be truthful, tends to be highly unreliable. As an example — which keeps happening to me — I have two sets of three digits of a conference call code that I need to key in, to join the conference call. I think I can remember both sets of three, but after punching in the first set of three digits, I’ll be danged if I can remember the second three. Sometimes I can remember 1 of the 3 digits. Sometimes 2 of the 3. But remembering all 3? It often doesn’t happen.

I think it will. I hope it will. I expect it to. But it doesn’t happen.

Anytime I start to think that all my issues are over and done with, I need only try to recall short sequences of numbers and/or letters (like library book numbers) for more than 15 seconds, and I’m reminded all over again that I have to keep up the effort to not have things fall apart. I need to keep up the effort to keep things in order in my life, from the bills that come in that need to get paid — but don’t, when I put them in a pile with all my junk mail and the disappear from sight, and I forget all about them, till the late notices (and fees) start rolling in.  I  need to stay honest about what I can and cannot retain, and not over-estimate my capacity for stuff that stays in my head.

It’s all too easy for me to think, “Oh, that’s not a very large piece of information – I’ll surely remember it!” Then I find out that it might be small, but it’s all but disappeared from my memory. I’m lucky if I even remember that I’ve forgotten about it.

Fortunately, this problem is relatively easy to fix — just write stuff down.

The problems start happening when I start writing EVERYTHING down, in such exquisite and exhaustive detail that I become overwhelmed by the amount of info that’s there. The more nervous I am, the more caught up I tend to get in details, so writing things down and being worried that I won’t remember them just makes things worse.

The best thing I can do is just trust the fact that I’m writing things down, and leave it at that.

If I forget a piece of it, oh well. It’s not like I don’t know how to do damage control on things I’ve completely forgotten.

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 “Write it down, or risk forgetting”

  1. I know exactly what you mean. For the first several years after my accident I had to carry a small notebook with me which I called my “memory”. I’m better than I was but I still forget small things all the time especially running to the store for a few items.

    Also included with this is forgetting where I placed things. I may not know where it is, only that I put it someplace so as to not lose it.

    My favorite story from early recovery days is when I told the doctors/therapists that I knew I was getting better. How? I knew that I forgotten something….not what that thing was but that I had forgotten it!


  2. Ha – I know what you mean about forgetting what you’ve forgotten. One of my signs of recovery, as well, has been realizing that not all was right. Memory stuff… yeah.

    I’ve recently started carrying a notebook around with me again. This time, it’s the kind where I can tear out the pages cleanly, so I don’t have to be constantly reminded of all the stuff I forget and need help remembering. I’d just as soon start each day fresh and not have to be reminded about having to be reminded. Still, it doesn’t pay to get too cocky. Just gotta stay realistic. And focused. And rested.


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