While I was being prepared for what was to be my last electric convulsive therapy treatment for bipolar disorder, before I received the anesthesia and went under, I stated that I was beginning to lose my memory. I was acknowledged , but the team continued with the treatment anyway. My porta catheter, the kind that cancer patients use, in my chest was poked and I was out shortly after.
When I woke, I was tended to by an aftercare worker as usual and led back to the reception area where I would meet Nick and be driven home as usual. But this time was different. I knew he was Nick and also my fiance, but I had no memory of him leading up to that moment. He was a familiar stranger. We returned to home which was also seemed strange to me, the home that both Nick and I had worked on. I couldn’t find things. Pictures around the house and in photo albums were of people I knew but could not remember, and I had no recollection of our dating.
It was time to pick up the kids. I knew that they were my kids, I just had no memory of them. And the worst part was that I was also missing all my feelings that come with memories leading to that present day.
My mom told me to” fake it ’til I make it.” What does that mean? Pretend to love my kids and Nick until it’s real? Look at photo albums and watch homemade movies until I remember? Incidentally, I didn’t remember being married to my ex either. Was this memory loss a blessing in that regard? I was going to have to make new memories.
The first time driving my car I needed to teach myself how to drive. I had forgotten how to use my window buttons and cruise control. I became paranoid that companies were hacking into my checking account and I opened a new one. I found out later that it was just my music service and student loan payments. I had gone to college and worked as a social worker but I did not remember anything from the trade. I no longer liked animals where I used to love bunnies. The medicine at the time left me with Tardive Dyskenisia, an unusual facial expression that freaked my family out. None of the medication was working and I continued to cycle in and out of the hospital until March of 2011.
March came and so did my latest hospitalization. My doctor decided to end the cycling and keep me inpatient until we found a medicine that worked. Keep in mind that I had been in the hospital 16 times since 2009. This time my treatment lasted a month and a half but finally worked! I have managed to stay out of the hospital since May.
This time when I came home I was able to feel the normal range of emotions. Did this mean I would also begin to remember? During my therapy sessions we would talk about my progress and process my awakened feelings. Yes, I was no longer having to “fake it”. I was beginning to recapture the feelings I have for the kids and Nick. As of today, I can remember up to my first year of college – with bits and pieces of the rest. Nick and I are dating to try to regain memory of our relationship and make new ones in the process. The kids never knew that I didn’t have my previous feelings for them. They just know that mommy is back. I attend a women’s group, individual therapy and attend my monthly medication management appointments to continue discovering the new me.
~Kerri, mother of two from Lincoln, Maine