Flooding is a form of psychotherapy to help patients overcome phobias, where the patient is exposed to their source of fear for longer and longer periods of time to help them learn to cope with and control the panic response. Flooding is what I call an influx of memories, when I am hit with so many of them I have difficulty coping. The last few weeks have been very hard, partly due to stresses outside myself and largely due to a flood of memories that has been growing day after day.
Don't get me wrong, this flood of memories is a good thing. I love getting memories back of my children and family and friends. I feel like I can participate in conversations with people about things I've experienced in life without feeling like a person outside of herself. For almost a year, I've felt like I was a stranger looking in on my life. Now, I'm starting to feel like a person who is truly getting to know herself again.
Unfortunately, this flood of memories tends to make me feel extremely overwhelmed. I fall into a fairly deep depression that only gets deeper as the flood gets higher and higher. I don't want to get up out of bed, I don't want to smile, I don't want to eat. I just want to sit in my room watching television. This is easiest, because it helps me escape from the current issues going on in my head. I'm pretty good about not letting myself just wallow, but some days are harder than others.
Someone asked me one time why I feel this way about my memories coming back. Why would it bother me? It should just make me happy that I'm getting my life back. Well, the response to that is pretty easy to understand. How would it make you feel to live several years of your life squashed into three weeks or three days or three hours? No, I'm not actually having to go through all of those motions, but I'm not physically drained either. I just get mentally and emotionally exhausted from the insane amount of information my mind has had to process in such a short amount of time. Thus....depression.
I'm thankful for the great friends and family that I have. They have helped me a lot. They have pushed me out of myself and my room. Not in a "Do it or else" kind of way, just in a "We love you and want to see you happy today" kind of way. It's worked, too. I go out with my friends and laugh and smile and remember why I enjoy being out and creating new memories. Then I go home and I seem to lose all those happy emotions pretty much immediately, and then I have to start from scratch.
I'm happy that I can be in a group of women from church and share pregnancy memories that have come back to me in the last week. I smile and laugh about being poked and kicked from the inside. I talk about how big my babies were and how much hair they liked. How they learned to go to sleep and how they played and talked. These are wonderful memories that I was afraid I'd lost forever. But, these memories make me sad also, because I've lost so much with my kids that I truly will never get back. I will never have the relationship I had with them before, because before will never exist again. Then I get depressed about that and BOOM I'm back to square one in the depression department.
I also have to deal with the things that aren't coming back to me. My ex-husband (who there have been times I am thankful he is out of my head) is like a non-entity. I have little things, like I hear a song and think, "Hmmmm, Teague liked this song." Or the fact that I vaguely recall how we met (although that could have more to do with reading about it in a paper I wrote for college and my journal.) However, our lives together are a big black hole in my head. It's not like they're there and I'm having trouble getting to them (that's the feeling I get about the rest of my life. Like I'm watching a movie so out of focus that there's absolutely no way to make sense of it, but you still know there's a storyline in there if only you could focus the camera.) This is an actual black hole of nothingness, like my mind really doesn't want to remember the man. I know there are reasons for that, but that doesn't make me feel better.
A couple of other black holes in my life are another person in my life that my mind doesn't want to admit existed and the time I was in the fugue. I've been aware of the black hole that is the fugue from the early days of my amnesia, but not being able to get a sense of the two people in my life is very disconcerting. I've been saying all along that God will give me what I need when I need it. This includes a job, money, time, friends, and memories. I realize that there is probably a reason those things have been blocked to the point of nonexistence, but that doesn't make it less stressful for now. I just pray that I will relearn to have faith in these matters.
Dealing with the flooding is a long process, but I know I will get through it and come out the other side happier to have my life back. I will treasure my memories as never before because you never appreciate what you've never lost as much as what was lost and then found.