Sunday, May 11, 2008

Blackouts

I have come to realize that there are large portions of my life that I simply cannot remember. I realized this seemingly selective blackout during my sophomore year of college. I had 12 people close to me die in 6 months and a hurricane pretty much destroyed my family’s home. The stress of the deaths and not being able to speak to my family sent me into my first documented depression.

After missing a week of school, not eating and never leaving my bed except to use the bathroom, my roommate called my counselor who then brought a therapist to my dorm room. They diagnosed me with depression, and thus began 4 years of therapy. During those therapy sessions I started remembering things. But were they real? Could I trust my mind? Had I watched one too many Lifetime Television for Women shows?

The memories of abuse, taunting, and hurt were too real to ignore. I tried hypnotherapy, and what the therapist recorded BLEW MY MIND! I forgot all the things that happened to me. What I THOUGHT was my first sexual experience, really wasn't! The first was actually 2 years earlier, but I simply cannot remember it.

Fast forward to February 2007. I see a guy at church. He looks familiar, and as he walks over to me and we exchange pleasantries, I remember that we worked together at one point. We exchanged contact info, but he kept looking at me. I concluded that he either liked me or was just a weirdo.

He called me later that afternoon, and dropped a bombshell: "Butterfly, why didn't you tell me you were leaving. You just disappeared without a trace." Huh? Apparently, we were dating. I have ZERO memory of being in a relationship with this guy. He described my house, my bedroom, etc, and I was grossed, disgusted, embarrassed, and ashamed at my inability to remember.

When it sunk in that my memory wasn't ALL of my memory, I began to wonder what else I didn't remember. In hindsight, it was stressing my memory that made me start with medication initially.Does anyone else experience blackouts?

-Butterfly (www.thebipolarchick.blogspot.com)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I have memory problems too...but I think a little different. I rapid cycle, and I am often reminded after being manic, of things I said or did...ways that I behaved, that I have no memory of.

I always wonder if I forget on purpose, because when I am reminded it does come back to me. I can feel the flush of humiliation that I should have perhaps felt whilst performing whatever stunt I was performing.

This is the part of the illness that hurts me the most emotionally. I would almost rather be depressed...at least then I am quiet and stay to myself.

Again...thank you for that post.

Laurie

Amanda said...

I have a notoriously bad memory, but this sounds different.

Has DID or brain trauma been ruled out?

Annie said...

It is so helpful to have you write about forgotten memories. I had an experience that I blocked for over 30 years and then got together with the friend that was also in the "abusive experience". There were 5 girls and 5 boys and we were in the 6th grade. We were drugged and then instructed to do sexual acts for tape recording. It was difficult to finally remember it with my good friend. I went to the place where it happened and journaled about it for months. I feel I have gotten past the daily pain of the abuse. I don't think there are other experiences that I have repressed.
Thank you for providing a space to write this. I am not ashamed of the abuse but had not shared it with that many people. Again thank you! Annie

Anonymous said...

I too have portions of my memory that have been lost. My mom and my husband both tell me things that I have done or said in the past that I cannot remember. It has been this way for years and I have no brain trauma or other medical issues. This may be typical for some.

Anonymous said...

I don't ever remember having blackouts before. I thought they were caused by the medications I was on before: Seroquel, Naltrexone, Clonazepam, Celexa, Lamotrigine, Remeron. I was put on the Remeron when I was at the lowest point, it was only temporary. I lost 6 months of a year; an entire semester. At the time I was living in a dorm on campus. I wouldn't leave my room for days or my dorm for weeks at a time. I ended up having to take a medical leave for a year because obviously I wasn't learning anything and couldn't function. I went home and my doctors weren't willing to change my prescriptions. I had been diagnosed as schizophrenic by the doctor at school but before my diagnosis was bipolar. I ended up forcing myself to quit cold turkey and started running everyday. My life improved greatly and I successfully completed an internship during the summer of my medical leave. When I came back to school I was still on bipolar medication (lamotrigine). I couldn't remember anything on that medication I thought and it was removed and I was prescribed Vyvanse for ADD. I was able to focus and do my work and my bipolar aspects "seemingly" disappeared from my life. Recently I underwent some serious life changes and events. When I reflected I realized that it was my bipolar behavior that lead up to all of these horrible events. I had a break again and I am still not on any bipolar medication. Entire days are starting to disappear and dissolve in my memory. I am planning on waiting it out and will try and start exercising again to see if that helps. But for now I'm living in a dangerous place and I understand that. I'd rather not be broken and dependent on medications for the rest of my life.