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People who knew me when I was younger knew I had an amazing memory for facts, dates, times and conversations. I could (and often did) repeat years old conversations verbatim. I always had a good calendar in my head for when bills were due, when appointments were, birthdays, phone numbers, and who needed to do what to get a project done.

As I get older, I can feel my memory slipping away. It feels a little bit like losing my mind. No longer can I glance at an email, absorb it and retain the relevant data. I have to make lists of what I am doing, when bills are due and generally keep a written calendar. Otherwise, I miss things. I forget things.

It was forgivable that I didn't call my mom on her birthday because I was at a writing retreat. It is not forgivable that I forgot my dad's birthday. In fact, it is downright frustrating because two days before, I reminded myself to call my dad on his birthday. I repeated it to myself long enough for it to get into long term memory but didn't remember it until the day after my dad's birthday. When I called, he wasn't home.

Today I discovered that I was 4 days late on a credit card bill—something that is forbidden in my world especially since I have a finance book coming out next month. I also realized that something I've been waiting on and mentally grousing about for weeks has been sitting in my inbox for six weeks. SIX WEEKS. All because I glanced at the email title, made an assumption, glanced at the attachment, saw only one word of it that appeared to be relevant to my assumption and then ignored it, thinking I had taken care of things already.

Too many big mistakes. I feel like I'm losing me sometimes. It's not me to forget things like this. It's not me to not comprehend things quickly. I'm not an old woman. I shouldn't have to worry about this crap. Instead of being who I once was, I have to stop, think, write down, consider, crosscheck and pray I'm not missing something… every damn day. It hurts me to have to do this. It hurts me sore.

Part of me wonders if this is what most people are like all their lives and I've been lucky until now. If so, I'm sorry. I used to be so bloody impatient with people who could not "get it" as quickly as I did. I'm also sorry for me. Because like the ace in high school who never had to study and is suddenly challenged in college, I have to learn all of these memory techniques late in life and, for the record, this sucks.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 25th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
I used to remind one of my best friends of stuff all the time, to the point where that was just a part of natural relationship. I'd see him online early in the week and say "hey, game's this Friday" or "we should probably start planning that party" or things like that.

I used to get frustrated until I understood why. His sleep was complete crap due to sleep apnea. He's been on a CPAP machine for the past couple years or so now, and his memory has dramatically improved. And that's a testament to me of the power of continually getting a good night's sleep -- I don't want to have my memory slip because of something I can easily fix.

Also, I hear you about getting old too fast. Remember, I'm the guy who, at 26, had to start walking around with a cane...

- Ryan
May. 25th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
Yes. Have you had surgery with anaesthesia? (Heh, LJ doesn't know how to spell anaesthesia correctly.)Post-op I knew on waking that I'd lost a significant chunk of long-term memories. It was a very odd, uncomfortable awareness. Going back to school has shown me that my ability to convert short-term to long-term memories has been compromised. Some of that is due to aging, but not all, I believe.

I need to learn how to use those tools.
May. 25th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
I've had two surgeries with anaesthesia. One last year. One 6 years ago.
(Deleted comment)
May. 25th, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
I second this. If you've noticed memory slipping a *little* over a long time, or only when you're under particular stress, that might be human failing or age. But if you think there's been a sudden downturn over the last few/several months, it's worth checking out. Might be serious, or might be mild and easily corrected.
May. 25th, 2010 10:34 pm (UTC)
There are vitamin deficiencies which can affect memory. Several of the Bs, including B12. Not to limit possible problems to vitamins, but might be worth checking out.
May. 25th, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC)
If you are using an email program with a calendar feature (Outlook)...or even using Google calendar, you can easily setup email / text reminders to yourself at key moments...just to help.

But I feel your pain. I've had small memory lapses too.
May. 25th, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC)
I've always been much worse than that. Long ago, I gave up trying to do any better and just live out my life with a hopelessly lousy memory. The people you used to be impatient with, have always been impatient with me. But I've stopped apologizing all the time - people can grumble about me all they want, but afterwards, they should just cope.
May. 25th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
It does suck, yes. I'm sorry this has started bothering you suddenly. That's not a good thing.

I've always had a terrible memory for certain things (dates, names, faces, other socially relevant stuff). Coupled with a terrible time sense it's pretty aggravating, and I'm used to it.
May. 25th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
My memory went to hell (even by my standards) a couple of years ago. Go figure, I was rather hoping it was "only" stress and that I could rebuild it, but my habit of self-pickling has, I fear, put paid to it.

I agree with Wendy et al re: seeing a doctor. If naught else, it might help put your mind at ease about the situation....
May. 25th, 2010 11:11 pm (UTC)
Maybe your memory is not really fading, maybe you just have so much more to remember these days.
May. 26th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
Truthfully, that's how it is for me a good portion of the time, especially these days.
May. 26th, 2010 12:04 pm (UTC)
I understand what you are saying. I doubt mine was as good as yours but I could remember certain things and pick new things up. Recently, it seems to be harder and harder to do that. And it's very frustrating. Further, I used to know where all of my things were. I could go right to them. I can't do that now and that frustrates me as well.

May. 26th, 2010 04:45 pm (UTC)
I know you don't know me from Adam...
Your story sounds very like mine and I share your pain.
For me it turned out to be MS and my MRI shows great holes in my brain. I lean heavily on the fact that we only used about 20% (generously) of capacity. Think of the brain like any other muscle: use it or lose it. Spend some time every day playing memory games (for short term) and memorizing things that interest you: poems, short stories, baseball stats, whatever (for long term). It's also recommended that you learn something new - a language, a skill, whatever. The thing you definitely don't want to do is become complacent with the loss.
May. 27th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
I'm usually the opposite. It takes constant and practiced concentration to keep at my peak awareness. Occasionally I get lucky with some periods of easily achieved levels of concentration, but I can't depend on it to last for very long, and my memory has usually been like crap to begin with, even since my childhood.

You may be going through a slump that's natural and unavoidable, and it may represent a trend as you get older, as should be expected. However, i don't expect that what you are experiencing presently should be permanent.

One thing I learned to do, which it appears you already have down pat, is random "checks" and audits to see how functional I am. Sometimes I adjust my expectations for how well I am doing, sometimes increasing the frequency of such audits if I seem to manifest any increased degree of mental deficits.

One methodology adjustment I make in reaction to any potential deficits is to make my long term goals a more clearly defined series of short term goals. The success or lack of success of each short term goal is to be acknowledged and assessed as an indicator of the level of functionality I should calculate for.

Currently, I have such a bad headcold I cannot anticipate the best brain I've got, but rather just take each step, one hemisphere at a time.

I wish you your best to resume soon.


(I believe you check your journal entries of past years. Perhaps an examination of past entries might yield some clues. The first category of entries I would suggest could be entries from this time of year.)
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