(Not So) Total Recall

Lately I’ve been wondering if my gaps in memory are because of bipolar disorder or something else (aging? genes? I don’t know…).

Over the weekend I triumphantly proved these memory hiccups I’ve been having existed to an audience of zero. That’s right, I only had myself around to say, “ah ha! I knew it!” -but it still felt slightly gratifying.

When I boarded the bus I looked up the name of the cross-streets I needed to get off on. Michigan and Marginal. Those were the streets.

I sat, repeating the names over and over again to myself at the bus trucked along. For maybe two or three stops I repeated the names over and over again in an attempt to remember the names of the streets.

Then, ten minutes later, I suddenly realized I couldn’t recall. Michigan and what? It started with the letter M… 

Try as I might, I couldn’t remember the name. I had to look it up all over again.

This was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. This sort of thing has been happening a lot lately, and when it happened on the bus I nearly screamed, “HA!” because it was like catching my brain in the act of forgetting.

The thing that makes me believe it might be bipolar related is that I’ve been struggling a lot lately with racing thoughts and spacing out. It is as if my mind is either overwhelmingly engaged in something lately, or it isn’t engaged in anything. When it is highly engaged, there is too much information flying around to be able to remember the name of a street that starts with M. And, when I space out, the opposite is true. It is like trying to hold thoughts in a sieve, everything just falls out through the holes in the bottom.

I have also recently taken up losing words again, where I am talking and have trouble finishing my sentence, or I lose the next word I am supposed to say.

“Looks like it is going to…” Rain. Say rain. Wait, what is the word? There was a word I wanted to say here… crap.

People have told me that lithium has had this effect on them, and I can’t exactly discredit that theory, but I’ve been taking lithium for a long time now and (like most things) this lame brain syndrome seems to come and go in something like waves. This wave lately has made it very difficult to hold conversations, write blog posts, remember where the heck I am going, and keep anything in my head for more than a minute or two at a time.

My other theory is that it could have to do with insomnia. I’ve been having one hell of a time trying to sleep lately, my anxiety has been so far out of control that I am too busy laying around at night with racing thoughts or spacing out to be able to sleep. This has resulted in a few really attractive tantrums by yours truly, as the act of not being able to sleep feels something akin to physical torture.

Realistically, I don’t know. The answer is as elusive as the name of street that started with the letter M. It is on the tip of my tongue, but there is nothing there but a blank spot.

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6 responses to “(Not So) Total Recall

  1. I have had some of the same memory issues. I do know that studies have shown a direct connection between insomnia and short-term memory. At least if my memory is correct. 😉
    Personally, I have found my memory to be much worse when sleeping problems arise.

    I still have some memory issues when sleeping well, but not nearly as many. I attribute those to a combination of bipolar and standard memory mistakes.

  2. I take Lamictal rather than Lithium, & I have the same issues. I’ve forgotten things about driving a few times while I was driving, & have considered maybe I shouldn’t drive anymore. Unfortunately I live in a rural area where there is no public transportation & nothing I can walk to. Thankfully they don’t happen very often & haven’t been too bad. I panicked the other day pulling out of a parking lot onto a divided highway when I couldn’t remember which way to turn. I was just about to pull out when suddenly I was terrified of driving the wrong way & there wasn’t any other traffic around, so I couldn’t see which way to drive. It was disturbing.

    I’ve always been very forgetful, even forgetting my name when I was in the first grade, but it’s definitely getting worse.

  3. ultradiancycler

    I am a flutist, and I have had the same problems with spending hours memorizing a song… later, I go back and practice it and lose track of what comes next mid-song (just like you talking about not being able to remember the next word in a conversation, which also happens to me A LOT).

  4. That sounds annoying. With me it’s normally about lack of sleep.

  5. word finding difficluties and memory issues are a masssive part of chronic fatigue; so its likely to be related to insomnia – when you are physically tired the brain cant have as much energy as usual as there’s not enought o go around

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