This topic has probably been discussed to death between those with bipolar, their friends and their loved ones – but honestly, I can’t remember.
(I thought about taking that cheap laugh out of there, but I’m in a good mood today. So it stays.)
Medication side effect warnings, info pamphlets on bipolar, talks with your doc, lists and lists of symptoms about this lovely condition. None of it prepares you for the day you are confronted with and have to accept the fact bipolar is affecting your memory.
It started slowly, a few years ago. I’d be speaking to colleagues and forget a term, which progressed into forgetting my train of thought which blossomed into forgetting my words all together. Med has helped, but my ability to remember the important sh** is waning again. I can’t remember what that last email stated so I wind up recreating the wheel. Oh, and prepositions are my enemy. Ninety percent of the time I use the wrong one, which makes it necessary to go back and reread everything I write before saving or sending. As a bonus, without auto-correct, some days it looks like I’m typing in Klingon or Elvish.
Not to be done in by being unable to remember what the URL for Google is, I resorted to using my toolbar-insta-search-field and poked around the results for ‘bipolar disorder memory.’ About one-third of bipolar people suffer from disruptions in their cognitive abilities, the jury is divided on whether antipsychotics have any positive effects helping with bipolar memory issues (run like hell!! I say) and a recent study discusses the idea Long-Term Memory Formation Altered In Schizophrenic And Bipolar Patients, Linked To Specific Protein. (Yes, I am reading my notes on what I found interesting as I type this out.) In all seriousness, much has been researched and published regarding schizophrenia and memory. It would be nice if the same amount of research could be conducted about bipolar disorder and…. Wait, what? Oh yeah. Memory.
If you’re bipolar, reading this post and are turned off by my flip sense of humor on the subject, all I can say is if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. And just go on reading, because chances are you won’t remember being insulted in 20 more minutes anyway.
Big topics never matter until they shrink enough to fit into your home. Frustration at work is something I can handle (I work in IT. I’m a professional Frustration Engineer.). But when the memory BS started negatively impacting my personal relationships is when I started to really feel it.
Twenty seconds after my husband asks me to help him with something I’m on to something else, leaving him feeling frustrated and ignored. I forget to call my son on the weekends, I forgot to pay the international shipper and forgot to follow up with the county over an incorrect bill for the tabs on my car. I’ve downloaded and tried more task managers in one week than I care to admit. Or, maybe I’ve downloaded the same set multiple times and duplicated my testing. (Kidding!)
Then, there is the more serious issue of being at a stop light and forgetting why I am there. It doesn’t happen often, but it has happened more than twice. I wind up having to look around me to make sure I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. I am stopped? Check. The light is red? Check. The other cars are stopped? Check. Do I remember where I am supposed to be going when the light turns green? Uh… Sometimes. Sometimes I’ll just go with the flow of traffic until the brain fog clears and/or Bitchin’ Betty on the GPS chimes in again.
Memory issues worry me greatly, of course. I know I’m aging. We all do. Even at the age of 47 it’s not uncommon for healthy people to start showing concern about memory loss. But the bipolar meds and those used to help with the comorbid anxiety and sleep issues? Does anyone else worry about this? Of course they do. I’m not unique – none of us are. It’s just hard to make peace with what could be the fact that my condition and the fabulous pharmaceuticals used to keep it in check are ruining my…
Sigh. If what it takes is living by the tone of a reminder from my smartphone for as long as I can remember what that tone is, so be it. Who cares? I’ll forget in 15 I was ever sad about it all of this in the first place.