Schizophrenia.com

Memory... My Journals vs. My sister's theory


#1

My Journals:
I rely on my journals for my memory. If I didn’t have those right on the book shelf, I don’t think I would have any idea how far I’ve come. I feel my memory is getting better for day to day stuff like stove burners and locking the door, but there are still huge gaps in it and that is when I pick up my journal and try to remember.

A few weeks ago I wrote that my kid sis was afraid of all the doom sayers. It was pointed out to me that my sis was only 3 during Y2K. Correct… she was only 3.

Then it has really been bugging me as to who I was thinking about. I’ve gone back into my journals to try and figure out who I was thinking about. It’s my red head cousin Melissa who was freaked out about end of the world stuff. (I knew it was one of the few red heads in the family.)

My sis was afraid of the loud bang… bang… bang… tink, tink tink tink… of the heater in the basement. When we had to turn the heater on for that first time of year when summer turned to fall, the heater would make all that noise and my sister thought it was a monster in basement. That was why she wanted all of us to sleep near the fire place… no heater holes were in that room.

My jumbled memory keeps me grabbing my obsessive journals off the book case. But as I read them and sift through them for my memory… I keep coming across delusions, babble, and other stuff that serves no purpose to my healing.

I’ve been thinking of rewriting my journals if I can. Try and pick out the stuff that is actually lucid and leave the delusions behind. It scares me when I come across something, re-read it, ponder it and a voice somewhere inside me says… That makes perfect sense. Then I re-read it and No, it doesn’t make perfect sense. It’s not good in fact. It’s sneaky brained thinking trying to sneak back in. (none of my anatomy has mutated, and there is no tracking device where my appendix use to be.)

I’m almost tempted to hand my journals over to my sis and ask her to sift through them and write the lucid stuff, but she might not be able to tell what is and isn’t from my writing at times. I would love to burn some of these old journals, but then I’d have no idea what happened in my life.

My kid sis’s theory:
Memory is just like any muscle or skill and if I don’t use it, I loose it. She says my journals are a crutch or a splint that doesn’t need to be needed any more. But as long as I just keep turning to the journals, I don’t actively use my memory. If I don’t actively use it, it will get weaker.

She’s also trying to tell me… “So what if you get people mixed up. people without SZ get people confused with other people all the time.”

She tells me not to sweat the past confusions about family history and just work on the stove burners and closing the windows when it snows.

But people without Sz have a memory about who they were. I want that. My journals are who I was. Even though I have an odd relationship with who I was… I still want to keep my eye on that guy so he doesn’t come back.

I guess I’m going to have to find a way to improve my memory and eventually burn the journals. I keep saying I’ll do that. But then I won’t remember anything. With my journals in tact, when I want to remember something I feel I at least have half a chance. Even if reading them makes me cringe and feel a little nauseous

Can memory be strengthened like a muscle? Or once it’s gone it’s gone?


#2

Sis is right. So many times I go to tell my son something about his dad then I stop because I’m not sure if it was his dad or one of my other relationships. So I say: I think it was your dad but don’t quote me because I’m not sure.

Sometimes I look through old journals. I find it hard to remember what year (blank) happened. What year I live in (blank) province. Sometimes I can piece it together from other things. I started work this year so I must have lived here that year… Even the year my mom passed is not part of my set/firm memory because I was using at the time. I have to think about it for a minute or look it up. I don’t think anyone can change a past memory into a new memory. I think moving forward you can have a better memory as sis is saying and by using this you can get a better feel for what happened in the past.

I’m a calendar person. Even when my kids were small I keep calendars that I still have so I can go back through them but the years that I was “sick” and using, I accept will always be foggy. When my son asks if I remember something. Sorry hun I don’t remember. And that’s ok. We can’t remember everything.

I think if you really want to go through your journals and pick out the “real” stuff then do it but I don’t think that it will help your memory of those events. Perhaps leave them on the shelf like a favorite book that you go to only when you need to. Your bookshelf is full of a lot more important books right now.


#3

Thank you for that.

I was wondering if memory can be consciously improved. I do feel it’s improving for little things. I do remember to turn off all the stove burners and close the windows when it rains. I do remember to put the milk back in the fridge.

But I don’t always remember some important family event naturally. I had to be reminded so many times I was being best man in my favorite cousin’s wedding. Even when the day got closer I was still surprised when I was stuffed in a suit and drove to the church.

I am so glad my job is task oriented and not requiring past volumes of knowledge like Law or Accounting.

But if I’m going to keep going to school, which I am. I already registered for my second quarter… then I really want a memory.


#4

yes i think memory is like a muscle as well,

like muscle has memory and you can make it stronger the more you use it and if you dont it gets weaker,

i have been trying to strengthen my memory and it has worked i think i am remembering things a lot more now but still it is hard to remember everything, i worry that what i have learnt at college will all be forgotten now but people say that i would remember if whatever i was learning came up again.

the meds really cloud things over and weaken memory i think, its like adding gravy granules to hot water where the meds are the gravy and when you mix it with the water (memory) it gets thicker and harder to stir (hope you know what i mean by this) i guess that would mean the memories were not flowing easily or clearly enough to access them or store things.

what has really helped me to remember is writing on this forum and the old one (i wrote a lot on the old forum i think) but i use to find it very hard to talk or know what to say and was paranoid about doing that as well.

i look back from time to time but a lot of what i said was lost somehow, and a lot of it was good stuff, there is bad stuff too but that cant be helped, if i cataloged everything i have ever said on these forums old and new there would be volumes of my life and how i progressed and i wish i had all that at my fingernails but as i say a lot of it was lost.

idk how you could document everything you do everyday in a journal, i tried journalling before but it didnt work, i also tried writing a dream diary but i ended up stopping that too, guess i just didnt see the point but i can see the point of it online apart from the blogs as i tried that as well and i couldnt keep it going.


#5

For a while in hospital, I was under the delusion that I had lost the ability of speech. I was sure I was mute. So I wrote as my only lifeline to the outside. I wrote on everything. Walls, mirrors, my own skin. I was given lots of paper and pens. (this is what I was told) I do remember writing a lot in hospital for a while.

Once I got that glitch in my head straightened out, I was still in the habit of writing. I still am. The more I do, the less time I have. When I was sitting very still for hours a day, I could write for hours. Every little thing in my head. What a jumble.

Now I filter more and decided… no, I’m not going to write about pee or my toe or the weight of my hair. I’m going to write about more constructive stuff. So my writing has been less in journals. Unless I wake up from one zinger of a dream I usually don’t write down all of them anymore. I also quit writing my conversations with my voices. I try not to sit and talk with them any more.

I try to talk with real people not head circus people. So my writing has changed a lot.


#6

I used to write absolute crazy ■■■■ in a paper journal. First few weeks after I was diagnosed and learning about schizophrenia in college, I destroyed it. You might want to be careful what you write…i sure as hell didnt want anyone to ever know what I had been thinking, that’s why i immediately destroyed my journal when I gained my first bit of insight into my illness. I wrote again about my past and present when I was entering remission, seeing my symptoms fade day by day. I havent deleted that document, i will one day look back on it. It was basically the truth behind my facade of being normal, I was in remission but not recovered. There is a big difference.


#7

I can’t even understand my older journals. I’m obviously better now. They were written in a sort of code and I don’t know what any of it means anymore. I have to use small clues to remember things. My memory is already bad though.


#8

I have only looked through my journals once. I still keep them though, as a sort of reminder. I know what is in them (crazy nonsensical rants) and I think it helps me on my meds just knowing they are there and what is in them and that I will be back there if I become incompliant.


#9

Maybe I’m the odd one here, but when I read through all my old journals, papers, notes, I have total recall of everything I wrote-especially when in code.
It makes me particularly angry when I find others can’t follow the code.
I have never had trouble remembering things, even while psychotic.

Keep the journals until they cause more harm than good.
Once they’re gone, it’s forever.


#10

I have journals starting from when I was 10 years old. Every once in awhile, I will look back on some old ones. They show me how far I`ve come…


#11

Maybe talk to your sis and discuss what you recall and then ask her what she recalls, even the basic things? That’s what I’m going to do with my mum she’s says she’d be willing to talk to me about what she recalls any time as I don’t really remember much about my sixteenth year or hospital or much at all until two years ago, I have some journal entries but I destroyed the majority I remember vividly living in my beliefs and there is trauma hidden somewhere besides the attack I recall vividly, it’s protected by my beliefs and was shunned by everyone around me so I repressed the memories I was having and now even though I know what I said, I no longer have flashbacks, but they’re coming through in my dreams, I write all the time, have started a dream journal and an art journal. I wish I’d kept my journals so I can remember what it was like, that I have more control now.

But coming back to you, maybe discuss this with your sis, I’m sure she’d be more than happy to help you regain your memory by telling you what she recalls? I think memory can be triggered and expanded by many things like for me the smell of tangerine makes me feel comforted and reminds me of days I don’t remember on my own. Maybe you just need to compare stories? If she tells you it was raining that day maybe go out and smell and feel the rain, it may bring it back? I don’t know, I’m no expert but retrieval of memory can be stimulated you just need to get out there, discuss and experiment, but take it steady, don’t discuss everything at once that will just over stimulate you, start off by one thing at a time and build up.

Good luck and take care, I know where you’re coming from so you’re not alone!


#12

That is very good advice that didn’t cross my mind. Thank you for that.


#13

You’re welcome, I’m glad I could help somewhat!


#14

I just threw away all my journals because they had some personal stuff written when I was psychotic. But I logged down every bit of progress. Looking back at it I could see what was going on in my mind. I burned it all though. I felt I didn’t need them anymore. I might start a new journal. I write notes just haven’t gathered them, so sparse and disorganized. Well I bought a white board can use it with dry erase marker. I make reminders on it everyday. It changes weekly and helps with recovery.


#15

That’s a bit funny to me only because two months ago, my sis brought home three restaurant sized panel chalk boards and hung them up. Then she bought colored chalk. I’ve been using them for reminders, list and ideas and odd drawings. Very cool.


#16

In my opinion is that people always store new memories and if you didn’t fit the old memories with the new ones then I guess they would become harder to recover…But you know that patients with dementia start to lose their new memories but they remember the old ones from youth like it was an hour ago, they might remember memories that they couldn’t remember before…so memories will stay there in your mind even if you can’t remember them, it’s simply a matter of a retrieving problem, just like not being able to remember which shelf did you put it in, which category, which book, which page?!!..


#17

“You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you have been”