Have you ever lost your keys or forgotten what you did yesterday afternoon? All normal lapses in memory, right? None of these are a big deal or at all frightening, right? WRONG!! It doesn't matter how big or small what you've forgotten, it can all get overwhelming and scary. I have been wracking my brain for months trying to come up with a way to help people out there suffering from amnesia, and this is the best I can come up with for now. You are not alone in your struggles!!
When I first started looking for support after being diagnosed with amnesia, I couldn't find much. A couple of forums on medical websites where people get on occassionally and talk about what they've forgotten, but for the most part people don't talk about what scares them day to day. How to get through the worst of the dabillitating depression, how to make themselves do something fun without constantly worrying they'll forget it tomorrow, or how to laugh when there are people around that can never have any chance of understanding unless they go through something similar themselves (which you would never wish on your worst enemy, let alone someone you love.) That's what I'm gonna do here. Sometimes I'll laugh about stuff, sometimes I'll cry and whine about stuff, sometimes I'll just be straightforward and matter-of-fact about everything. It all depends on my mood of the day.
A good place to start is to explain who I am. (For friends and family who already know this story, now is a good time to grab a snack and skip to something you might find interesting. Unless you really want to go over this again in which case sit back and enjoy the fireworks. But not literally. No fireworks here today. I don't want to set my bedroom on fire.)
Imagine, if you will, waking up one day, not knowing who you are or anyone or anything aroud you. No, this isn't an episode of "The Twilight Zone". That's my life as of May 2011. I really need to start before then, going all the way back to when I became newsworthy. April 12, 2011, or as I call it "The worst day of my parents lives." (Of course, I could be wrong about that, but I like to think I'm that important.) That's the day I was reported missing. I had talked to my parents, my sister, and my friends on the previous Saturday, but that was the last anyone had heard from me. I was missing for three weeks before being found in, of all places, Joliet, IL.
There is, of course, a lot more to that story. I may actually get into that one day. Right now, it's hard to look back on. First of all, I don't remember any of it until a few days after I arrived at the hospital. Secondly, I don't like to think about how much my family was hurting during that time. That is a demon I will have to face someday, but I have to be ready to face it head on when I do and not double over from the gut wrenching guilt that comes with it.
I know most of you won't be able to relate to that part of my story, and that's okay. That's one of those things I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. (Wellllll.......) It's months later and there is so much backlash from those events, I have trouble getting it all in order in my head. Obviously I am found, alive and well, and getting better. (And, for those jerks out there who have to question everything because you can't help yourself, getting better and all better are not the same thing.) Yes, my fellow amnesiacs, doubt of the public is something that we all have to face. When you have an ex-husband who acts like he enjoys making you look as bad as possibe to everyone, it is (I believe) even worse than it otherwise would be. (Again, I like to believe I'm so important that I know everything. Teehee!) When dealing with doubters, I've found the best solution is to laugh at how pathetic their life is that they have to poke fun at yours. It's like mocking those with disabilities in a desperate attempt to make yourself feel better, while subsequently making everyone around you despise you with a passion of unfathomable depth. It never really has the result you want.
Oh, and amnesia is a disability. Yes, you can walk, talk, hear, speak, see, and you have all of your motor functions, but it is deep inside of you. It's a part of your life when you wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night and all the times in between. People who have it dream about it at night and wonder about it all day every day. It takes over every thought in one way or another. It makes the sufferer sad, angry, and scared. It increases their abilty to marvel at everything while wondering if maybe they already knew that at one point in time in their life. It doesn't matter if it's one event they've suppressed or everything has been forgotten, once you have amnesia you always wonder if you remember everything, or if you ever will again. That's life with amnesia. That's what people don't talk about in public. It's like there's this taboo against it because of the haters and doubters out there. Like any mental illness, it's real and hard/impossible to prove and track. If you have it, don't be afraid to admit it. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you, it means your normal. Just like those people who forgot where they put their keys or what they did yesterday afternoon.