January 24, 2019


Yesterday, I made a complete ass of myself, and today I will have to call the pharmacy and apologize.

I stood at the counter and argued with my pharmacist about my last lithium refill.  There had been a sticker on the bottle saying that they still owed me eight tablets.  Spoiler alert:  This post is about memory loss.  It should come as no surprise, then, that I forgot about picking up the rest of the lithium until yesterday.  I had filed a mental "go get your lithium" note somewhere in my brain, and finally noticed it.

The pharmacist, however, said that I had picked up the extra lithium a couple of weeks ago, when I stopped by to get some Flonase.  I swore that there had been no bottle of lithium in the bag.  She shrugged.  I shrugged.  I disengaged and told her I'd check at home and let her know today, but that I truly did not think I had been given the medication.  She held a paper in her hand that said otherwise.

I went home and filled my pill containers.  I shook the lithium out of its bottle.  I had enough to finish the month, plus one.  So obviously, I had been given the extras, taken them home, pulled them out of the little white bag, and poured them into my main bottle.  I had done this thing.

I have absolutely no recollection of doing it.

Nothing.  Not even a vague shadow.

This has been happening more and more frequently.  The Kid asked me if I remembered when I got three free pizzas from Pizza Hut a few years ago because the store closed early and I wanted breadsticks-god-damn-it and I knocked on the window in an unusual fit of assertiveness because breadsticks.  He described it in great detail.  It sounds like a great story!  I can't imagine myself doing that.  And I sure as hell don't remember it.

He even told me what toppings were on the pizzas.

He isn't fucking with me.

I don't know if it's because of the Klonopin, which I've cut in half precisely because a friend has had success recovering from benzo-induced memory loss by going off Xanax (the process is going surprisingly well), or because of the Lamictal, or because of all of the times over the past few years I've hit myself in the right side of the head or slapped myself until my brain rattled and I got woozy and red-faced.  Something, though, has gone in and neatly snipped out what feels like gobs of memories.  They're not hiding, or fuzzy.  It's never a matter of "oh my God, I haven't thought about that in forever!"

They're just ... gone.

It's not just that I'm getting older.

I told Therapist Gumby about it.  He can't help me recover the memories, but he suggested using EMDR to help with the way that each time I learn about a missing memory, it hits me in the gut, repetitive trauma.  It hurts that much.  I replied that it sounds like a good idea, but I couldn't recall any of the memories that we could use for the technique.  That would have been a great pun, if it had been intended.

And it doesn't just hurt; it makes my heart pound with fear sometimes.  I've always had a partially photographic memory that I could depend on, rock-solid.  I've had the synaesthesia.  I've had most people who know me tell me at some point that my memory is freaky-awesome.  It was that good.

I have fallen so far.  Fallen "from a great and gruesome height," in the words of Dar Williams.

Now most people who know me tell me that I shouldn't worry because I'm just like everybody else and on the same level, forgetful, having to write things down.  Those words are gut punches, too.  I had a gift.

I lost my gift.


  1. I have no idea how old you are, but perhaps it's menopause? My brain completely fell out of my head when I was going through it. My memory is getting better now, post-menopause, but while going through it I couldn't remember my name.

    1. Hi Wendi - I've thought of that, too, but at 41-going-on-42, everyone insists that the odds of early-onset perimenopause are extremely low. And, er, everything else on that front seems normal. Ye gods I'd love something that would explain it, though! I'm sorry to hear that you went through that, but glad that it was somewhat temporary. Yuck squared.

  2. I wonder if it's because some of us have lots to do and deal with busy lives, just so much going on. There's no space left in the brain. I'm like it too

    1. It's frightening to think that I could adjust my meds all day long and it will make no difference. But it's comforting to hear that this is nigh-universal ... I won't be alone. Thanks, Pip.