How Trauma Messes With Your Brain


I had something pretty traumatic happen in my life late last year (after, and separate to, the nervous breakdown). I don't want to go into detail cause that's not really the point here, but let's just say it was a genuinely traumatic event that would be recognised as such by any psychiatric organisation, with my safety and sense of self at risk. It's been fixed now, mostly, but I'm still learning about the bloody annoying after effects.

(I've had other shit happen, but this was kind of last straw stuff).

My short term memory is shot. All my life I've had an intense memory for small details. I've always known what day and date it is, and on what day and date things are happening. That's gone now. I've become one of those people who say "huh? It's the 17th already?" which after the novelty wore off, is kind of scary. Yesterday I got a fright because I learned next month is May, when I thought it was March somehow, even though March things (uni going back, Easter) have already happened. 

I stand in the kitchen for ninety seconds with the roll of cling film in my hand before I remember it was to wrap the plate of sausages sitting in front of me.

My concentration is also borked. It was never the best, but now it's a struggle to get through half an hour of note taking. 

I've extremely limited ability to cope with bureaucracy. Dealing with Centrelink (let alone uni administration) never bothered me before. Now it's scary and exhausting and I want to cry. 

Now, I know lots of people are absent minded. But the thing is, they probably have other qualities to compensate. My intense focus and recall of daily life was, I thought, compensating for some of the attributes I lack, like the ability to safely navigate through the world without falling over, knocking into, and falling down everything around me. (And I might add, my clumsiness is now even worse). 

I worry I can't write well any more. I used to fly out posts in one go, twenty minutes. I can't now. This one, I've had to go over and over, retyping words I forgot to finish mid keystroke. I got my first essay for this go at uni back; the mark wasn't terrible, but it was way, way off what I'm used to achieving. The Masters and PhD I was working towards would be out of the question. (No point reaching out to the university for help either - they are legendarily useless). 

I gave up drinking a few months ago to see if it would help. With my health, yes but memory, no.

I'm not having flashbacks as such. Only occasional intrusive thoughts. But my memory has decided to protect itself by deciding to forget what bus I need to get home, where my next tutorial is, what I'm doing in the supermarket. 

I'm lost in a world I used to have a handle on, and it's awful and scary. Unless I've acquired some hitherto unrealised super power, I really wish I could go back to the way I was.

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