How do your memory issues play out?

beaneeboo

MyPTSD Pro
My memory of parts of my childhood, like so many here, isn't very good and never has been.

My everyday memory has been getting worse over the past few years - specifically last 3 years. Even more specifically last few months. I'm in my early 40s.

When I say memory I'm talking about my ability to remember everyday things. Every day, I have no idea where I've parked the car. Even though I parked it either earlier in the day or within 24 hours. I know this happens to alot of people but for me it's EVERYDAY. Even when it's infront of the house. Sometimes when I locate it I can't even remember that I'd parked it at that location. My work is becoming increasingly difficult to manage. I can't handle all the memory requirements and so the level of my work is getting worse. I walk into a room and may not remember why I entered. People talk to me about things we talked about or even did in the last few months and sometimes I can't remember. I used to be able to hold and work with so much information - juggle so much. I now have lost the ability to do that because of my memory/ cognitive difficulties. Things just fade away in my mind... Like sand through fingers. Info dissolves.

I'm going their early menopause (in the peri stage) and my brain fog is through the roof.

But my question to myself is: could all the memory and cognitive issues be from trauma? Could they be down to a DDNOS diagnosis? Could it be purely peri-menopause? Is it early dementia or something similar? And what the hell can I do to improve it - I'm scared.

My question to others: does anyone relate? What is your experience of and understanding of your own memory issues?

Thanks 😊
 
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in my own case, the memory loss was from my repression habits. i was raised on the "forgive and forget" mantra and who needs to forgive what they can forget? my first official dx was, "trauma induced amnesia." i had blocked memory of my entire childhood. during my early recovery in my 20's, i couldn't quite figure why my shrinks kept saying "amnesia" like it was a bad thing. in my 30's, i was gaining some clues and started getting with the program. by the time i hit menopause, i was the only hen in the flock whose memory was actually improving with age. that remains true here in my post-menopause. as i grow more comfortable remembering the trauma, my memory continues improving across the board.

my personal favorite theory is that my brain is an organic harddrive. its memory function can't tell the diff between digital bible verse and digital porn. repress one memory function and you eventually repress them all.
 
Repression has always been a huge part of my life. I thought not remembering was normal brain function. It wasn't until college - when I was 18 years old - that I realized that other people had an incredible data base of memories inside their heads. At first, I was crushed I didn't have access to my early memories. But as time moved on and I've become aware of the horrors my past holds, I now know I was given a gift. That repression helped a little girl survive years of abuse and heartache. If it is not necessary for me to break down that wall that hides that ugliness, than yeah!! I am blessed.

The losing of those tidbits of daily info I personally don't see as trauma-related. I call it senioritis and the icky part of aging. It comes with the territory. My best friend has had zero trauma in her entire life. She is from a picture-perfect family with loving parents and closely bonded siblings. She is one of the most intellectually gifted people I know. She is also now one of the most forgetful people I know! She drives me crazy! Getting old comes with graying hair, wrinkles, aches and pains, and the loss of precious brain cells. I am always misplacing objects, forgetting important dates, or leaving things in the oven too long. I can blame a lot on my abusers, but these things I attribute to my age.
 
I’m another that has barely any childhood memories. I have less than a handful of actual memories, all of them flashes and I keep them far far away from me. I thought it was entirely normal until someone asked and I was like, eh, no idea - don’t remember. I found out some time later when for unrelated reasons I needed my notes, and oh boy did the can of worms ever get opened.

I can be really dissociative, if I’m not 100% on task I’m liable to forget anything I’ve been told/said/done. If I know I’m having a foggy patch I revert back to old coping methods from a bad non trauma related TBI. Utilise the notes/alarms function on my phone for anything that I might forget, have labelled hooks for things like keys, and a note inside the front door reminding me hang up keys etc. Take pictures of everything, where the car is parked, list of jobs for the day. Basically anything physical to get it out of my brain, into a format I can check off. Simplify everything.
 
My "T" told me that I had a lot that my mind was processing consciously and subconsciously and that made it difficult to keep track of everyday things. I was getting so forgetful, locking keys in the car or the house, and even once suddenly not knowing where I was and what I was doing. It was really scary! Fortunately, I stood for a couple of seconds and looked around me and then came to realize that I had just checked out of a local Wally world store. Still, it was a feeling of unreality for me.

I had huge blank spots in my memory in general, but as I discovered more child abuse events, faced and processed them, my good memories of childhood also returned.

So I hope that helps to answer your questions.

My best to ya,
Lionheart
 
I'm 42, and I can confirm there was a shift at 40. When I'm doing housework, I'll dust a table and forget 10 seconds later. Have to backtrack to make sure I did it. At the store I have to stop and regroup every 30 seconds. I can't even hold a thought long enough to walk to that aisle and get it. As for parking, I have a small list of routine places I go, and I park in the back at a certain place every time.

But I still remember everything people say.
 
I have ADHD to add to my memory issues. So I either have the worlds best memory almost photo like, in books, events, the past or I’ve got nothing. Unfortunately for the most part the abuse is stored in the photo like section. My brain seems to have no rhyme or reason to what it will or will not remember. Names are pretty much a no go.

I’ve found the more habit I create the less I have to remember and the less taxed my brain is. Things like at work everything is color coded. I make notes for anything that might be forgotten that is important. I utilize my phone and its various alarms. I use my hyper vigilance for time. I simply can’t be where I can’t see what time it is. I also use the 20 memories of my classroom when all those fail, which means 20 reminders. My keys go in the same place everyday or frankly I’d spend my day looking for them.

For me systems make it so I’m not constantly annoyed with myself for me memory issues which allows me to function.

The angrier I get about my memory the more it seems to shut down. I was 30 minutes late for T last week, luckily it was a 90 minute session but I was completely annoyed that I’d let it happen. Instead of getting angry and beating myself up about it I reminded myself that it was the first time in nearly two years that I’d had an issue so I just need to be more careful when my appointment starts on a half hour instead of the hour.
 
Thanks @arfie @Aprilshowers @No More @Lionheart @RachelBigby @Charbella ... it's really interesting to hear everyone's different experiences...
my personal favorite theory is that my brain is an organic harddrive. its memory function can't tell the diff between digital bible verse and digital porn. repress one memory function and you eventually repress them all.
This is a new concept for me actually that lots of different go off line together good' and 'bad'... totally makes sense... also incredible that you're memory is getting better with age.. I wasn't expecting anyone to say that!

The losing of those tidbits of daily info I personally don't see as trauma-related. I call it senioritis and the icky part of aging. It comes with the territory.
Eek! This bit scares me as I'm only 42 🙄... not that your experience is necessarily the same as mine.. but my body is defo fast forwarding in age and so maybe my brain is doing the same ... if it is I think that's worse for me than trauma related memory issues 😕
. Utilise the notes/alarms function on my phone for anything that I might forget, have labelled hooks for things like keys, and a note inside the front door reminding me hang up keys etc. Take pictures of everything, where the car is parked, list of jobs for the day. Basically anything physical to get it out of my brain, into a format I can check off. Simplify everything.
This sounds like what I'm beginning to develop in other to stay on top of the memory demands in daily life... sounds like you're on it though and managing this difficulty well? Feel free to add your fav strategies 😃.. I'm currently using my audio on my phone to remind myself of things I need to do/say ...


My "T" told me that I had a lot that my mind was processing consciously and subconsciously and that made it difficult to keep track of everyday things.

My best to ya,
Lionheart

That makes COMPLETE sense... Just thinking about this in relation to my own experience...these past few weeks have been heavy on processing (emotional flashbacks, parts more active than normal etc) and my ability to function in 'normal' life has been greatly decreased..I can see a correlation...

I'm 42, and I can confirm there was a shift at 40. When I'm doing housework, I'll dust a table and forget 10 seconds later. Have to backtrack to make sure I did it. At the store I have to stop and regroup every 30 seconds. I can't even hold a thought long enough to walk to that aisle and get it. As for parking, I have a small list of routine places I go, and I park in the back at a certain place every time.

But I still remember everything people say.
Yep - I relate to all that you said! Thanks for sharing as we are the same age (helps me feel a bit better! 🤣).. but I guess I feel mine goes a bit further than that as my work is affected... and not remembering things I've said or sometimes not recognising myself in the mirror for example seems beyond age-appropiate memory decline... the not being able to remember what people say is a big one for me... this is the worrying one

I’ve found the more habit I create the less I have to remember and the less taxed my brain is. Things like at work everything is color coded. I make notes for anything that might be forgotten that is important. I utilize my phone and its various alarms. I use my hyper vigilance for time. I simply can’t be where I can’t see what time it is. I also use the 20 memories of my classroom when all those fail, which means 20 reminders. My keys go in the same place everyday or frankly I’d spend my day looking for them.
Wow I can see you've worked alot on this - you seem very efficient with these strategies! I think the habit thing is a really good point.. really important for people whose memory is difficult...

The angrier I get about my memory the more it seems to shut down. I was 30 minutes late for T last week, luckily it was a 90 minute session but I was completely annoyed that I’d let it happen. Instead of getting angry and beating myself up about it I reminded myself that it was the first time in nearly two years that I’d had an issue so I just need to be more careful when my appointment starts on a half hour instead of the hour.
I guess the emotional side of the brain can really scramble calm and collected thinking etc... it's a really good point to not beat yourself about not remembering as the more flustered we get the harder it is to focus and remember... sounds like you won't be late for it another time as you already have a strategy! 👍

I don't think I get angry with myself... I just feel resigned now... bit like giving up.. feels too hard to fix sometimes

I like everyone's strategies ideas and will try to think of some more
 
For some practical tips, try to park in the same spot everyday, habit overrides memory (or make “rules” like you always park in the back right side or something (most people try to park close to the entrance so by going against the grain you’ll have better luck at keeping your parking spot) try the panic button on your car if you have one. Write things down but once again use habits to lock it in place like you look at your list at mealtime's. Make the list easy for you (no floating sticky notes or scraps of paper) but instead notes on your phone/tablet/computer, or a small notebook you carry with you all day. There’s ways to improve short term memory but I’m not sure what it is. Lastly, have grace with yourself, you may just have brain fog and memory issues because of hormonal changes. As a teenager I sure did.

I’ve also experienced my share of disassociative amnesia, repressing memories, crappy childhood etc, but who cares about all that melodrama. These tips aren’t going to be life saving but being more organized and habit based can be helpful. I read a book called the power of habit and it was pretty great, it really went into how everything is a habit and how your whole life can be changed by habits, and how to create habits that stick.
 
I am highly dissociative at times, and these sorts of memory issues are common during those times. I also deal with a pretty significant clinical depression, which tends to play havoc with memory, too.

But my question to myself is: could all the memory and cognitive issues be from trauma? Could they be down to a DDNOS diagnosis? Could it be purely peri-menopause? Is it early dementia or something similar? And what the hell can I do to improve it - I'm scared.
Could be a mix of things, but the likelihood that it's early dementia is very, very small. I understand worrying about it, because I do (and nearly everyone I know also does), but it's much more likely it is related to your psychological challenges.

One other thing I will mention is that some medications really screw with memory, so if you are on anything, you may want to talk to your doctor about it.
 
For some practical tips, try to park in the same spot everyday, habit overrides memory (or make “rules” like you always park in the back right side or something (most people try to park close to the entrance so by going against the grain you’ll have better luck at keeping your parking spot) try the panic button on your car if you have one. Write things down but once again use habits to lock it in place like you look at your list at mealtime's. Make the list easy for you (no floating sticky notes or scraps of paper) but instead notes on your phone/tablet/computer, or a small notebook you carry with you all day. There’s ways to improve short term memory but I’m not sure what it is. Lastly, have grace with yourself, you may just have brain fog and memory issues because of hormonal changes. As a teenager I sure did.

I’ve also experienced my share of disassociative amnesia, repressing memories, crappy childhood etc, but who cares about all that melodrama. These tips aren’t going to be life saving but being more organized and habit based can be helpful. I read a book called the power of habit and it was pretty great, it really went into how everything is a habit and how your whole life can be changed by habits, and how to create habits that stick.
Great tips @Roland ! Thank you for these 😃

What you say about habit I think it's so true... and a good reminder.... I think I am quite routined but maybe not with any memory strategies I use.. which makes them bit defunct... so that's a really helpful reminder to be conscious about being routine with those habits...e.g looking at my last of things to remember at the same time each day🙏

Could be a mix of things, but the likelihood that it's early dementia is very, very small. I understand worrying about it, because I do (and nearly everyone I know also does), but it's much more likely it is related to your psychological challenges.
The dementia thing is what I'm petrified of 😢... I guess i know it's less likely but on days where my memory fails me badly, or just the fact i can't retain info like i used to... it really scares me...

I did bring it up with the doc but they won't even look into it because of the menopause thing but I feel like some sort of test should be done! 🤷‍♀️
 
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