The information contained in this post is based on personal experience and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your physician before making changes to your treatment plan.
I've recently been thinking about my memory issues
I've been known to say I have a bad memory and that I don't remember things, which is true. There are a lot of things I just do not remember. At one point, our youngest was telling me about something that had happened and I told him I didn't remember it. He got upset, thinking I was saying it didn't happen, so I explained that it wasn't that I didn't think it happened, I just didn't remember it, just like a lot of other things that have happened that I don't remember. He was mollified by the explanation, but still a bit disgruntled. Honestly, I don't blame him. I'd be disgruntled too.
The real problem was that the kids have heard me say I have a bad memory or can't remember something enough times that they've started saying similar things. While they may have issues remembering things on occasion, I don't want them to get in the negative and limiting mindset of "I CAN'T remember things".
So I've reframed how I talk about my memory issues
After I thought it through, I sat down and explained it to the kids so they can better understand it as well.
Earlier in the year I was tested for ADHD, but ultimately the psychologist said that while I display a lot of the symptoms and behaviors of ADHD, it's really just how my permanently exhausted and sleep-deprived narcoleptic brain copes with life. One of my test results was so unusual that he said if he was younger (he's probably in his 70's) he'd write a paper on it. Pretty sure it's not a good thing when a doctor wants to write a paper about you....
Anyway, one of the outcomes of the testing was that I don't have a memory storage problem, I have a memory retrieval problem. The information is there, I just can't always access it.
This was the starting point of how I reframed my memory issues.
How I now describe my memory issues
I explained to the kiddos that in my brain there's a lot of file cabinets with all sorts of information and memories stored in them.
- Some of the cabinets are unlocked and the information is freely accessible (things I can remember without problems).
- Sometimes those cabinets get locked and the information can't be accessed (I can't remember something).
- Sometimes the key is found and I can access the information again (remembering something I had previously forgotten).
- Sometimes the key isn't found and the information stays locked up (I'm still not able to remember something).
The keys can be found in a variety of ways: spontaneously, through looking at pictures or videos, through conversations, through reading my journal (which is why I keep one), and so on. Triggers make it more likely that I'll find the key and be able to open the cabinet containing memories or information, though they're not infallible.
The lack of a trigger of some sort makes it much more likely that the information will stay locked up. In some cases, I'll have a vague inkling that I know something or should remember something, so I know there's information locked up, but I can't remember enough details for that information to fall under the unlocked category. Those are especially frustrating.
I don't know why things get locked up, or don't. I can remember random trivia but can't remember things I've done with my husband and kids. There's no rhyme or reason. Words are also randomly locked up, though they don't tend to stay locked up long term. Usually they unlock within a day, but there have been instances where it takes days to remember a word I was searching for.
How reframing how I talk about my memory issues has benefitted our whole family
Thinking and talking about my memory issues this way has been good for all of us. I haven't heard the kids saying they can't remember things and I feel more positive about how my brain does -or doesn't- work.
Focusing on the negative side of things drags us down, perpetuating the cycle of negativity, as well as spreading it to those around us. The inverse is also true and being positive will lift us up. Now, I'm not saying we need to be positive in a fake way, or that everything will be instantly better just because we choose to look on the bright side, or even that it's easy to look for the positive in what we're experiencing. But it is easier to deal with the challenges we face when we're looking for the silver lining in those challenges. Even if we're only able to find just a sliver of a silver lining, our outlook can be improved.
Life is hard. Focusing on the negative aspects of our lives makes it harder, so why not make it a little easier and focus on the positive?
Interested in reading more about how a positive outlook can benefit your health? Here's two articles to get you started:
- Positive Thinking: Stop Negative Self-Talk to Reduce Stress (from the Mayo Clinic)
- The Power of Positive Thinking (from Johns Hopkins Medicine)
Have you tried reframing how you look at something to change it from a negative view to a positive view? What were your results?
The ironic thing is that when I initially wrote down this experience, I couldn't remember what the topic was that I'd planned on writing about. I knew there was something, I just couldn't remember what. 🤦♀️ It took a week or so for me to remember the topic so I could actually write about it.
Each day is a bright new beginning!