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How to I get my memories back?


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I was diagnosed with PTSD 4 years ago, and I jsut recently found out that I don't have practically ANY memory before I was 12 years old. Even hapy ones! WTF? Does anyone know how to get those lost memories back? It's really pissing me off!!!!!!

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Hi there -

It can be very upsetting to realize that you are missing a bunch of memories. I also have very few memories of my childhood - lots of blank space there.

Unfortunately, I don't know that there's much you can do to force those memories to come back. When someone is traumatized, it can seriously mess with the way they process events and store memories, and that's not necessarily reversible.

Some people claim to be able to help you recover memories through hypnotherapy. There is a whole big debate around this, which I don't really want to get into, but I personally would be a bit wary of that.

It's unfortunate, but you may just have to give it time, and see if memories start to emerge on their own. They may or they may not. As I have gone further into my healing process, I have found that some of my memories have come back. It comes and goes - at times I have a lot of memories, other times I have almost none. Personally, and this is just my own choice, I try to be at peace with my memory gaps and see them as another way that I was able to protect myself as a child, rather than something I need to fight to overcome. I don't know if forcing those memories out would really make me happier or healthier, even if the memories were of happier times.

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Guest Vapourware

I agree with tryp in that with memories, sometimes the mind just conveniently decides to do away with certain ones, and in the process you may find yourself with very big gaps. It's a form of self-protection. When you are faced with trauma, sometimes it's too much for your mind to handle, so it does away with bad memories. Sometimes the mind is *too* comprehensive with putting up these walls against bad memories and it ends up blocking everything.

Sometimes the memories do come back. I went through a few years where I forgot about my childhood issues, until, inexplicably one day I was sitting on my computer chair surfing the net and the memories all decided to suddenly hit me. I have no idea why those memories came during that day or what triggered it. It just happened.

I would advise that you be very careful with hypnotherapy in order to recover memories. There are reports of people "recovering" memories from hypnotherapy which later turned out to be false, and I think if you are especially vulnerable to wanting to recover your memories, you can fall into the same trap.

I wonder if the more you delve into therapy, the more those walls in your mind will crumble and your memories may return. I found that the more I talked about my trauma issues in therapy, the more other memories came out.

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Have you discussed with your therapist why these memories are so important to you? Perhaps if you figure out what you are looking for, you will be able to think of something else that will meet that need.

Sometimes I struggle with having a coherent sense of myself, since I'm only 22 and my memories of most of my life are scrambled in one way or another. With time and healing some have come back on their own, but I've had to look for other ways to feel better. I do a lot of drawing to try to access that childlike part of myself, I journal, so that if I remember something I can write it down in case I forget it again.

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  • 2 months later...

all wonderful advice above.

i'm known in my family for having the craziest memory ability. i remember details from so early on in my life that i shouldn't have the ability to remember (cognitive development-wise) but trauma memories are still spotty. the brain is a wonderful friend for keeping me from these memories, i'm sure, but i understand your frustration.

i find the less i push, the more i just let things come in a relaxed welcoming way (not easy!) the more my memories flow back. i have to be in a stable, healthy-ish place for my mind to allow access to the painful shit.

not sure if i answered any questions, just giving my experience.

wishing you well.

h

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ugh, the memories will come, in bits and pieces, probably not in order. mine don't have order. It does not help if others who were in the household are trying to cover their own wrongdoing and give you false memories [thanks mom (bitch)]. It is also far better to find a hypnotist and record the session or go into it with a trusted friend. I've done meditation alone. The thing that you do not want is a hypnotist who asks leading questions; you want your memories to be accurate. Now, for me, all the bad things came to me at the most inopportune moments. I was raped by my father, of course, what else? I'm gay, so I wanted to be just like him, just a kid who wanted to be like his dad. But my father took that as an invitation to rape the hell out of a 4?, 5?, 6?, 7?, definitely 8-16-year-old girl. I just wanted to be one of the guys, hell i though i was, just prettier, i guess. So, though attracted to boobies myself since a young age, when i reached pubescence I thought sleeping with guys was a requirement. HAH! Being raped makes you straight. Take that Christians-who-say-we're-gay-because-we're-raped. Sigh. I'm getting off topic, yes? YES.

YOUR memories. What happened to you? rape? neglect, abuse, a fire? (It could be ONE event, unlike my many years) The trigger for my memories was that something that I really ignored until I was 9 (my big sister had her period and he finally penetrated me) because it made no sense started to make sense. So What Was It? Just let it come. And when you can handle it it will. Maybe that's why I'm so messed up now, I pushed too hard. But I know why I did: He made me into something that I'm not.

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My memories of what dad did did not come at all until I was strong enough that the devastation did not lead me to kill myself. And...just barely right. Just.

Do you know I had dissociated that I ever loved him? I had dissociated the ability to love that deeply.

You might try inner child work...it'll hurt.

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