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#12812 - 10/16/02 11:01 PM Continued Memory Loss
Gary - CDN Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 28
Loc: Hamilton, Ontario Canada
Hi Guys:

I am interested in hearing from people who have experienced varying degrees of memory loss or experienced dissociation. I found over the last year, my life is almost a patchwork of memories. What I remember of my abuse is very limited and I have learned to accept that and move on. What concerns me is the 40 odd years after. For a good portion of that time I feel I have traveled through life as two people, with my memory weaving across a very thin line. Some things I remember and others I do not. I have recently started creating a timeline to help put the pieces of the puzzle back in place but some of the gaps are big; especially during periods when I was under extreme stress. More recently (last year or so) when the stress hit hard, my mind just seemed to exit to the side then re-appear later when I felt safe ?? To cope, I am keeping lots of notes but it is uncomfortable not feeling you are in control.

Comments greatly appreciated.

Gary


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#12813 - 10/17/02 01:14 AM Re: Continued Memory Loss
Don-NY Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/06/02
Posts: 546
Loc: Long Island, NY
Hey Gary, count me among those living with vast memory losses.

Years are gone. I don't give them much thought, except when I am confronted directly with things I should remember or "couldn't possibly have forgotten".

This doesn't have to be something amazingly embarassing or foolish, it could be something that is just a simple fact. I attended my sister's wedding, totally sober, even walked her down the aisle, and I remember nothing of that day from the moment we started down the aisle. NOTHING. I remembered nothing the day after. Talk about dissassociation under stress.

Two lives? With memory crossing over and over a thin line? Oh yes, but that largely ended when I stopped acting out, which was, by the way, the ending of my sex life also. (Big sigh, been a long time.)

Now it is just one life, with large gaps. I used to invent stories to fill the gaps; nice stories, full of joy and adventure. But finally, I too have learned to just accept and move on.

I still disassociate at times, from stress, but I've learned to recognize it better, and I even now have people who will let me know I'm "out there".

Peace,
Donald

_________________________
If you understand everything, some things are just as they are. If you understand nothing, things are still just as they are.

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#12814 - 10/17/02 01:56 PM Re: Continued Memory Loss
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Gary:

I'm 45 years old, I was abused sexually from at least the age of 3, until I was 12, by a number of perps, male & female. Then there was the other physical, verbal & emotional abuse.

I did not start to really remember the most or the worst of it until about a year ago and since. This has to a large degree consisted of vivid flashbacks with processing & piecing together in between.

I did a time line in a small group at a recent conference and that really helped. As have retreats, reading, what little live support I could get, and particularly online support like here with you fine men. \:\)

It began late last year following a session with my T, about my newly acknowledged sexual addiction. Since then therapy, and a good pdoc, have been invaluable, hard as they were to find.

Before last year, what I did have were lots of scattered & isolated memories. Some were flashbacks, but very vague, brief & elusive pictures. Some were just word thots that came to me as I tried to put things together. Most were more like emotional memories, feelings of pain & abuse I couldn't sort out. And the many body memories (I have FM/chronic pain, most of my life)tho I didn't know that's what they were.

Usually, especially the worse these various memories were, it was as tho they had happened, but to somebody else; yet I could see me there. I guess that's part of what dissociation is, and man did I dissociate!

Not that dissocation is all bad. At the time it was probably necessary to my emotional & spiritual if not physical survival.

The problem is I dissociated & so deeply suppressed everything it had to leak & sometimes burst out in some very unhealthy ways. Acting out sexually, overeating, temper tantrums, drugs, overeacting, etc. \:o

I hated myself, had trouble in relationships of any kind, could hardly functiion at work, and I picked up bad habits of body, emotion & mind I'm still struggling with, if not as much. \:\(

I've had times my mind just blanked out for awhile, times I seemed to leave my body, times I felt like two (or more) different people--lots of those.

But being a survivor, I kept seeking help, support and healthy relationships. The more I found them and availed myself of them the better I became.

Not that it was easy. This last year of flashbacks & owning my memories, my truth, and of putting things together has been a chunk of burning hell on earth in many ways. But it has also been a great time of support, healing & growing in many ways.

I know there is still so much to learn & do & be. I know there are still bad habits and many hazards along the way. But I finally believe I'm on the way, to health & wholeness. (If you want more about why, you could read about my "Major Breathrough).

I still think a certain amount of dissociation is healthy, in the sense of not relating things to & taking things upon myself more than I need to. As my T said Monday (my breakthrough), it's time to leave behind the past you've dug up, acknowledged and dealt with; its time to move on and live and be in the present.

But for whatever reasons it has taken me a long time to even be ready to take this path & come to this point. And man have I got a long way to go! I've got a little Wuame in me that needs to be the child he never could be before he can grow up too much! So much to learn, do & be!

Still kinda scary, and I know dealing with hurts, healing & growing can be very painful as much as it can help--like surgery. But I'm learning to look forward & not back so much.

There are probably things I still don't remember, and probably don't need to. Right now I still have trouble with remembering things from day to day, and concentrating on them.

This is a symptom of my fibromyalgia, but its also an effect of the abuse & dissociation (as is the FM in general). When the mind dissociates strongly enuf and/or from enuf things, it has increasing difficulty discriminating as far as what to dissociate & what to associate.

I have plenty of times I get up to get something walk into the next room to get it and forget what I went in there for. I have to write down everything, then remember where I put what I wrote down! But I'm working on it. :rolleyes:

It might not hurt to have a good rheumatologist or pain specialist check you for fibromyalgia tender points, or get checked for other possible physical causes of memory problems. My being diagnosed for & starting to treat my FM about 3 years ago was a big step toward the further steps I've taken in "diagnosing" & treating my abuse.

Doing a timeline & keeping notes is good, Gary. I'm working on journaling, sporadically, myself.

Well, I hope this article I've written offers some help or hope, Gary. Take good care of you. \:D

Wuame

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#12815 - 10/17/02 03:31 PM Re: Continued Memory Loss
New to this Offline
Member

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 138
Loc: Mississippi
I left a rehab program over a time line. I could not remember enough to do it. My memories seemed to be a series of unrelated snapshots. No one could understand my frustration over this. I had a group of alcoholics turn on me. I got out immediately.
I'm working to overcome this. It seems that one effect of my abuse was that I hated who I had become. The best defense for me was to forget. I don't remember more than a few dates with my wife. I don't remember much about my kids being babies, and the list goes on.
When I take the time to relax and do a little self-hypnosis I can recover some memories. I was trying to remember some early abuse and found this out. I was overwhelmed by how much I could remember after I started coming to terms with my abuse and the effect that it has had.
I guess the memories are in place, but they are buried so deep it is not easy to retrieve them.
Devon

_________________________
"Knowledge itself is power" Francis Bacon

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#12816 - 10/17/02 05:55 PM Re: Continued Memory Loss
Ken Followell Offline
President
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 12/30/01
Posts: 990
Loc: Bradenton, FL
I too have holes in my memory. I recovered the memory that I was abused about 4 years ago. I am now 44. recently I was filling out a medical form and realized that I cannot put dates to the 2 surgeries I ahve had in the last 5 years. I just cannot remember when they happened. I have known that there were pieces missing in my childhood, but I thought my adult memories were intact. I guess stressful events just go bye bye. I know I also cannot remember when my in-laws died, that does bother my wife that I don't remember that. I wonder what else of my past is MIA. I guess it will come back when I need it or am ready to deal with it.

Ken

_________________________
Ken Followell

Everything works out right in the end. If things are not working right, it isn't the end yet. Don't let it bother you, relax and keep on goin
- Michael C. Muhammad

"I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing."
� Rabbi Hillel

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#12817 - 10/17/02 06:48 PM Re: Continued Memory Loss
jaketk Offline
Member

Registered: 09/26/02
Posts: 49
Loc: illinois
most of what i know about my life has been told to me. i recall when my mother left, what happened before that, and when my brother and sister left. that was around two-three years of age. then i get this gap of time, and i'm at my grandfather's home. from that, i get snippets. some memories of being 5 here, 6 there, more of 7 and 8, 9 is shaky, and god knows what clearly happened between 10-14. and even after i ran away, i don't remember exactly how i got into a group home, or how i came to stay with a family. more recently, i've lost my memories of the months following my uncle's suicide. i just can't remember what happened.

when i get stressed, i black out. but i've blacked out without anything stressful happening. i've gone to stores, shopped, and come home without having any memory of doing it.

i do get flashbacks, but often they're emotionless. like i'm watching them happen to someone else. i can barely place them in a certain time frame because what i see, even though i get none of the emotions i felt at the time, so disturbs me now, i block the flashback. a friend equated it to my mind saying, “okay we're ready for this,” then i block it, and it says, “then again, maybe not.”

i'm afraid of remembering these old memories. i'm afraid of what i'll find out about myself, the things i may have done, and disgusting things done to me. more so, i'm afraid of the rage and fear and pain that'll come with them when they finally breakthrough.

jake


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#12818 - 10/18/02 01:18 AM Re: Continued Memory Loss
Gary - CDN Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/16/02
Posts: 28
Loc: Hamilton, Ontario Canada
Thanks guys for the input and I apologize if this entry seems long. In every response so far, I can relate to certain things since they have happened to me throughout the years. Wuamei's comment “I've had times my mind just blanked out for awhile, times I seemed to leave my body, times I felt like two (or more) different people--lots of those” hit home. I do remember on one occasion looking at myself and saying softly “What are you doing that for ??” I guess that is one side pulling the other back to reality.

New to this also mentioned “It seems that one effect of my abuse was that I hated who I had become. The best defense for me was to forget.” Bingo again. When I first accepted the fact that I was abused I was an emotional mess. Various memories were coming back and I did not like what I was facing. One of the first people I confided in was a minister I trusted. After an emotional out-bust we talked a while and I mentioned I needed to get into counselling ASAP. I was not stable and I was scared. He made a comment that I never understood at the time but it makes sense now. He said “You woke up one morning and did not like who you are”. He was right, I did not like who I was and how I was conducting my life. The best defense was to forget. When I look back I feel I should be apologizing to every girl I have dated and lived with. Lot's of friends too.

Don-NY mentioned “I still disassociate at times, from stress, but I've learned to recognize it better, and I even now have people who will let me know I'm "out there". For most of us, stress is the main trigger and with myself, undo stress makes me reclusive and paranoid and this eventually takes me into a downward spiral of despair. As I start to hit the low, my mind just exits and I become the person I hate. I have some recollection of those periods but there are big gaps. I still remember my Mother telling me throughout my life that I had what she referred to as “a convenient memory”.(There were abuse issues there and if I did not like what was happening etc., my mind (and emotions) just took an exit and returned when things returned to a more normal state. I am just starting to realize those reactions were not by choice, but probably a result of the way I handled my sexual abuse.

As with Don_NY, I am just starting to recognize it (dissociation)too. Recently, I have had a few good months with few major hiccups and for coping, I keep referring back to an acronym a buddy of mine taught me. He is a recovering alcoholic (9 years now) and his triggers were
-H-A-L-T Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.
As stress starts to kick in I remember to never let myself get hungry. As anger starts to raise it's ugly head, I take a breather and try to relax. If I need a walk to cool off, I take it. If I keep the first two under control, I can avoid the final two which if left unchecked, leads to the downward spiral of despair.

Thanks again guys. It's nice when someone else understands.

Gary


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#12819 - 10/18/02 08:25 AM Re: Continued Memory Loss
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Gary:

It sounds like you're learning to deal with this. Way to go. In dealing with this & lots of things, I like the HALT acronymn too. Very basic, very helpful. I need to use it more. Take care.

Wuame

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#12820 - 10/18/02 11:56 AM Re: Continued Memory Loss
michaelb Offline
Member

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 211
Loc: cincinnati, ohio
I too am dealing with memory loss.....some things just pop up in my mind out of the blue.....i'm still unsure what is true and what is in my imagination.....how can i be sure?????? my therapist says i have classic signs of dissociation and repressed memory....he thinks things may come back with trust or if not i guess we'll try hypnosis.....i'b be happy to discuss this with you further....IT IS JUST SO HARD TO BELIEVE ACCEPT>>>>>>>>>>> michael


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#12821 - 10/18/02 06:58 PM Re: Continued Memory Loss
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
My time - line seems fragmented and disorganized, with some small bits missing.

I can't remember what order I

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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