One would think as much as I write about my past that I have a great memory. Sadly, this is not true. In fact, my memory is horrible. There are big things that made an impression on me that still stick out in my mind, but I’ve lost the details. Luckily, I kept a journal on and off through my teenage and college years and I often refer to it for clues. But I don’t read it much because there are some things that are better left forgotten.
I used to have a great memory, probably too good. I was really good at remembering the wrongs done to me. I am glad to be free of those memories. Well, most of them anyway. Some are ingrained and I fear they will never leave me, no matter how much I profess to forgive and forget.
I’ve tried to pinpoint exactly when my memory began to wane. I think it started shortly after I got married. By then my friends had all left town and there was no Facebook or email to keep in touch. Phone calls required long distance fees I could not afford. So, I didn’t have anyone with shared experiences to talk to on a regular basis to keep the memories alive. That was also the time I was starting a new life and a career and I had so many things to learn and do that the old things got pushed to the rear of my brain.
My memory was still intact at my ten-year high school reunion, I know that much. Not that I can remember the actual reunion very well, but at least I remember highlights. So, my amnesia must have begun after that time. That was in the summer of 1994, and my son was not quite a year old.
A few months later my sister became ill and later died. That experience was probably one of the most traumatic things to ever happen to me. Thinking back the years 1993-94 were a turning point for many things in my life. I was a new mother with all the sleeplessness and adjustment that comes with it including a strong bout of post-partum depression. Then, when I finally got over that and was settling into a happy period my sister died. Again, I became very depressed but I pushed it aside and did not face my depression until several years later. As I write these very words I realize it must have been this depression that surpressed the memories of the years before my sister’s death.
Life does not stop just because someone is no longer in it. You have to keep on living, even if you feel dead inside. And, that is what I did. I was alive but I was not living. But that is a story for another day.
Another thing that certainly contributed to my amnesia is an antidepressant I took for awhile. Ironically, I did not take this drug for depression. I took it for a chronic itching condition I have. Acute idiopathic urticaria, my doctor called it. In other words, I itch but no one knows why. A side effect of the drug is it stops the itching. It really does, but it also causes stammering, sleepiness, and memory loss. When I was taking it my brain would skip, like a record with a scratch. And I just took a light dose. Heaven help me if I was on the prescribed dosage for depression. I would probably have gone into a vegetative state. Thankfully God gave me another medical condition so I had to stop that drug. I never thought I would be thankful for a medical condition.
I was not even aware of my memory loss until around the time I turned 40. I can’t pinpoint the situation that revealed it to me, but the reality made me feel panicked. I felt like I had been robbed.
So, trauma, depression, life changes, and medication all factored into my memory loss. And age, too, if I have to admit it. But thanks to my pictures, journals, old letters (yes, real letters) and friends I have sources I can turn to when I need to remember. And if you, reader, want to remind me of something interesting or funny we might have shared, please do. I welcome the occasional walk down memory lane, even if the lane is foggy in places.