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.