Memories Redux

The mind
I’ve written numerous times about my struggle with bipolar disorder and memory loss. There’s an interesting article on memory loss on the National Institute of Mental Health website, which I’ve posted before. What I’ve shared are the horrible gaps in memory that I have throughout my life. Sometimes it feels like over half of my memories are gone. I was a blackout drinker so alcoholism wiped out much of my memory database. I also blame the anxiety that comes with having bipolar for lost memories. On top of that I’d venture a guess that my meds are wreaking havoc on my memories as well. It can actually feel physically painful when I try to wrestle back some of my missing memories from events I’m told occurred. It’s even scary at times.

Not all of my missing memories have remained lost. For whatever reason, some do come back and I’ve learned through experience that some memories are best left dead. Of all the memories I thought I’d lost, the ones related to alcoholism are the ones that have come back the most. Most of these are terrifying. It’s only through sheer luck that I didn’t kill myself or anyone else as a result of my drinking. Just very recently, however, I’ve stumbled on memories I lost and it has brought me sheer joy – the memory of being a writer.

A couple of weeks ago a friend loaned me a copy of The Writers Market, which is a book that lists major magazines and publishers and what each requires for submitting written material for publication. The book seemed very familiar. When I searched for the book on Amazon, to buy my own copy, I accidentally typed in The Writer’s Digest which brought up The Writer’s Digest magazine. Suddenly I had a major jolt in my memory. I couldn’t believe what I’d forgotten. I was reminded that I owned a copy of The Writer’s Market and had a subscription to The Writer’s Digest magazine back in my early twenties. What possessed me to stop? Why has it taken me thirty years to realize my potential and to pursue it? I don’t know, but regardless of the long stretch of time, I’m glad it did come back to me. This morning I enjoyed brunch with a group of writers and have never felt more at home. These are the types of memories I want more of.

Before choosing to label myself a writer, I told people I was on disability. Then, I began classifying myself as a student, but had to stop when I found myself unable to keep up with my studies. I started referring to myself as disabled again until a friend pointed out that since I’m now in my fifties, I have earned the right to say I’m retired. I loved that and I used it for a couple of days, but stopped when the more accurate label came to mind – writer.

Why shouldn’t I call myself a writer? I’ve been writing this blog for over 6 years, I recently sold a short story, and I’m currently working on three writing projects. I am a writer and my once lost memory has made me absolutely certain that it is my true calling.

Have you experienced much memory loss? I’m interested in reading good memories that have come back to you.

  12 comments for “Memories Redux

  1. November 25, 2014 at 04:35

    No happy memory recollection I’m afraid. I’m currently losing my memory at a rate of knots. But I loved the article. Thank you Bradley

  2. November 20, 2014 at 12:56

    I have a whole mish-mash of things running through my mind reading this, Bradley. First: I understand frustration at memory loss ONLY because I have had the opposite frustration–too much memory. I have almost a photographic memory of my childhood from about the age of 2–including conversations, abuse….and I’ve replayed those 24/7 for my whole life. And I wish for the opposite. (Can’t we have a happy medium? 🙂 On the other hand, I can’t remember 5 minutes ago!! I have always believed in repressed memory because the mind does what it has to to protect itself, and will reveal things as a person is ready. I also think stress shuts down our thought process. (My disclaimer: what do I know? 🙂 As far as you being a writer? No kidding! Of course. I had a really hard time calling myself a writer too. I didn’t feel I deserved to be called anything I held up in such high regard. I pretty much said I wasn’t anything! But I think if we don’t want people putting labels on us, we better not put them on ourselves. Be proud– you ARE a writer. And so much more! ♥

    • Bradley
      November 20, 2014 at 13:58

      Thank you, as usual, for your comments, mandy. I always appreciate them. I wish that repression system worked for you. You deserve a break from those memories – more than I can imagine. Big Polar Bear hugs to you

  3. ljcriswell
    November 19, 2014 at 13:34

    I do deal with a lot of memory loss, and it’s very troubling to say the least. I forgotten a lot of my kids’ early years when I was at my lowest points. Congratulations for remembering your true calling and for claiming the title of Writer!

    • Bradley
      November 19, 2014 at 16:31

      It is very troubling. It’s sad when you can’t remember some of the good times you’ve had with your kids. I experience the same thing in regards to remembering times with my daughter. Thank you for stopping in and for your comment.

  4. Gel
    November 19, 2014 at 09:58

    As far as I can tell I have not yet lost memory due to aging…I’m 55.

    But when I’m depressed and stressed I have memory loss. It’s disturbing

    I’ve noticed that my memory is better when it’s connected into music and spatial realms. I’m amazed at how much I remember when it is in the form of a song. If I can use my body in movement while learning something then I remember it very well.

    Conversely I do not remember when stuff is only in the form of words and numbers. Knowing how my memory works best and where it’s not so good helps me to make choices about how I learn stuff.

    I am working with an 80 year old friend who is very intelligent and active but is losing memory at an alarming rate. It’s a huge wake up call about aging and how it happens to everyone, even people who are relatively ‘healthy’. I’m grateful for what abilities I still have and I know they will change over time in ways that I can’t predict. This is humbling.

    Bradley, I think of you as a writer first.

    I like how your writing is accessible and includes both personal stuff about you as well as educational stuff. I like how you seem interested in what your readers have to say and you usually ask questions to get your readers engaged. I love that.

    Thank you.

    • Bradley
      November 19, 2014 at 10:06

      I love the compliments, Gel. Keep ’em coming, keep ’em coming. LOL. I never thought about it, but I think I also am better able to remember things when their associated with music. Thank you for pointing that out.

  5. kat
    November 19, 2014 at 09:26

    yes, lots of memory loss. have heard different causes and future effects from it too. have heard it is literally your mind dying in places or it is your meds and will be fine if you stop them, or that the effect of the meds on the hippocampus leads to ‘dead’ areas…but they are not really dead, just comatose. i tend to believe in the latter one. also, depression is known quite well for memory loss, as is stress. these changes can be seen on mri’s.

    wish i had a link i had hidden from myself for this -but alas…

    • Bradley
      November 19, 2014 at 10:01

      Thank you, kat. You’ve been a wealth of knowledge lately and I appreciate it. I tend to agree with the last one too. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking.

  6. November 19, 2014 at 08:53

    Thank you for again sharing the memory research. My memory is sketchy. I tend not to trust my memory, and regret having tossed my journals and papers, for they could have served to jog my memories. Oh, well.

    • Bradley
      November 19, 2014 at 09:02

      There are many things I think I remember, then Maurice or friends tell me I’ve got it all wrong. We’ve learned to just accept them as my own reality.

      • November 19, 2014 at 13:39

        Memory is notoriously inaccurate, even among those with better ability to recall the past. We tend to filter, skew, and rewrite memories subjectively.

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