Have you ever realised that you can’t remember much about an event or time of your life that everyone else does? I always thought I was weird that I couldn’t recall a lot of my past. As it turns out it’s actually quite normal, especially when you have depression and anxiety moments. Throughout my life I’ve had periods where I’ve blanked things out. I always put it down to my brain protecting itself. What it actually is a very basic form of “dissociative amnesia”.
It’s no secret that I’ve had multiple “traumatic” events in my life. When I say traumatic I don’t mean violent trauma, I mean mentally. Losing my Mum and Grandma at 10/12 being one of the main ones, obviously. Apparently though, when we suffer a trauma it is quite common to develop amnesia and blank it out.
As it turns out, I do that almost every time I have a depressive period in life. So going with that theory, I don’t remember a lot of my life. At least the darker times. I guess in a way that’s good. Who actually wants to remember the thoughts, the feelings and the actions. Not me. Although, knowing that I will blank out on a chunk, and only have a recollection of certain bits of say a few months is unnerving.
Whilst out on my bike ride earlier this week, during my halfway break. I started thinking and planning blog posts, as is normal now apparently (who would have guessed that fresh air and exercise would help me think of stuff to write about). On this particular route, I went past the University of Chester, where I went in 2014. I came to the realisation, I don’t actually remember much of what happened at uni.
Now just to clarify, when I say forgotten, I don’t mean 3 years of my life are gone and I don’t know who people are etc. That’s not what I’m talking about. I mean I’m missing parts. Kind of like when you’re reading a book and accidentally skip a page then there are chunks that don’t fully make sense. In order to piece those bits back together you kind of make it up and in the end it ties together. That is exactly what my brain does.
In uni I had a pretty severe bout of depression. I saw the counselling team regularly which helped in the short term but didn’t quite prepare me for afterwards. This round of counselling didn’t provide me with any particular tools to help, it was more a sit and talk style. The depression in the long term was hugely detrimental to both my studies and friendships. Looking back, i’m really not surprised I didn’t do too well there. Whilst I did manage to pass the course, something I will always be proud of considering the situation, I will never be happy with my performance. I know deep down I could have, and should have done better. Nothing I can do about that now though.
The whole thing gets to me when I have a conversation with someone and they reference something that happened and I look daft because I can’t remember. Especially if it was fairly recent. When I say recent I mean in the past few years. There’s been a number of situations where because of how events played out in the end, my brain has shut off. It’s done what it does and effectively deleted it. Frustrating sometimes. Even more so when what, at the time, could have been perceived as a good memory has also gone.
I’ve just thought of another way of explaining what goes on in my head. From one of my favourite films. Inside Out. Effectively the story is about the different emotions we feel working together and coming to terms that we can’t be joyous all the time. There is a particular scene in which Sadness touches core memories which in turn alters how they are remembered. A memory can go from a happy one from a good time to having different views that maybe wasn’t obvious at the time.
The film itself is perfect at explaining how we perceive different emotions and in particular how Sadness, or depression, can drastically affect memories. If you’ve not seen it yet I highly recommend it. I may go and rewatch it for the billionth time!
I’m hoping to start doing more regular posts, maybe aiming for each weekend…we shall see. I don’t want to make the commitment just yet but I like how blogging and writing about the stuff that goes on in my head does genuinely help.