Tag Archive | memory

failing flesh

i find that increasingly, i am writing in this blog because my memory is poor these days, and referencing back to these entries help me with memory recall of my life’s events, which so often slip through my fingers like sand.

i had my follow-up with my neurologist a few weeks back. while i was happy to report that things didn’t seem too acute right now and the symptoms appeared to be episodic like last year, i was still having issues with my memory, and word-finding, limb weakness here and there, and knee buckling.

he thinks some of the medications i take may be contributing to these symptoms, such as lithium, topiramate, escitalopram, and pregabalin. however to my surprise, without me saying anything, he actually understood why i needed them and at such high doses (for my diagnoses that is).

he relooked at my scans, and apart from the leukoaraiosis that the radiologist reported, he told me that in his experience and opinion, it does look like there is cerebral atrophy.

a quiet and calm wave of panic washed over me. i don’t understand. first they only reported to me after a year they scanned me that there was leukoaraiosis, which was uncharacteristic of my age, and they also could not find out what’s wrong. then the symptoms affected my dissertation writing, and also my final exams, and i am told there is cerebral atrophy, but there appears to be no apparent cause despite my signs and symptoms. how did parts of my brain waste away? and what will all these symptoms and findings mean in the long-term for me?

there is so much uncertainty… but i guess, with all things health-related, some things can’t be explained.

in the midst of a great fibromyalgia flare. my anaesthetist jabbed my shoulders, decreased my topiramate to 25mg BD, increased pregabalin by another 150mg, and added eperisone at my request. aarghhhhhhh I HATE FLARES.



it’s probably nothing.

but 3 days ago it suddenly dawned upon me like some revelation that something was wrong. the failing memory seemed pathological. my knees have been buckling more. i have been experiencing an odd loss of balance. when pieced together they pointed to the brain as the root cause. i was reminded of last year when i had weakness and numbness in my legs and the neurologists had to rule out Multiple Sclerosis. they did, but my left leg remained weak since. the MRIs of my brain and cervical spine showed suspicious “spots” which the neurologists said could be nothing, but at the same time they also could not be definite about that.

2 days ago, i was due to see my psychiatrist. i asked him about the amnesia- the word finding difficulty and problems with memory recall which happened some time after my last ECT. he said it was uncharacteristic of ECT’s side effects, and he ruled out any possibility that my diagnoses, medications or ECTs were causing such amnesia. he also thought i had a malar rash actually. so he told me to see a neurologist and my rheumy and ask for their opinions. after that, i promptly got a referral and appointment to see a neurologist.

yesterday, within less than 72 hours of figuring things out, i saw the neurologist. he looked into my previous MRIs and agreed with the doctors last year that it didn’t look like MS. he did a full neurological exam, and said that my symptoms are manifesting rather mildly. and i agree, although it still affects my daily life. he noted hyperreflexia (though not to the point it is pathological), coordination problems and limb weakness. however he was most concerned about the memory.

so we are going to repeat the MRI with contrast. honestly, i don’t expect any changes in my brain imaging. i seem to have this propensity to have physical symptoms without proper evidence, as shown with my struggles with my rheumy and my RA over the past 10 years. i struggle, but because there’s no evidence it must not be real. i don’t have any expectations that these issues, especially the amnesia, can be explained and/or treated, even though i am mad desperate because my final exams are in December and i don’t remember shit about any thing i have learnt since April. in a way, i’ve given up. resigned.

so yeah. it’s probably something. but it’s probably nothing at all.

opened heart

it dawned upon me that my memory has been deteriorating further, because my word-finding difficulty is now at its peak, and my memory recall is terrible despite having some time pass from my last currents. and then… i am reminded that everything that transpires in this long journey from nothingness to recovery has a lasting impact on this temporary body which i abuse pretty much. this was something that i might already have known, but was too defiant to recognise and acknowledge. and alas, this leaves me with some regret.

it’s been 7 years at the brink of hell, i’ve always said i’m on the threshold of giving up, and it never seems to be getting better. what gives? i don’t know. the people around me don’t know what to do. they either stay silent, or comment nonchalantly. why are you still like this?; it’s been so long!; you are like that because your faith is not strong enough (i lost a friend for that because it was totally inappropriate);  huh!!! you cut again ah!!!; what did you do this time??? (must i have done something to be not feeling well or admitted???); aiyah i think you really need a boyfriend (overwhelmingly popular comment); etc.

but at the sidelines have been my family and close friends (NO boyfriend), cheering me on in the ways they know. this however, was hard for me. most of those who loved me didn’t know how to support me, and all i could perceive was silence and isolation. the loneliness i felt all these years, imposed by myself and wrongfully felt was crushing. it took years of therapy and retrospection to realise that my family all had their different ways of expressing their love for me.

i isolated myself nevertheless, and took down the facade i worked hard to maintain once i’m alone. i could trust myself most times, but i can say right up till today, i cannot trust a single person. not even my parents. and it actually aches right in the heart to know that. it is hard to put it in words, but the psyche of a chronically depressed, a bulimic, and a chronically suicidal borderline who severely self-harms, is hard to understand (and that is already discounting the fact that i also cope with RA and fibro at the same time, complicating everything!). and even that is a terribly sore understatement. i spent the last few weeks in much agony (although i had all these 7 years to explore this) trying to accept that maybe, just maybe, i am just one who cannot be grasped with the mind and the heart. or maybe i could tell you everything, but would you be able to take it? *hmm* it was difficult to accept this as i repeatedly spoke to my psychotherapist about this. i’m a borderline. i am needy. i thrive on being understood (or seemingly being understood). even as we tried to rebuild relationships, my parents and i, as we continued family therapy, i had my separate life from them when i’m alone. i couldn’t find the courage to integrate the self which i’ve relied on for 7 years and carried the painful pasts, weaknesses and unforgivable failures, together with the fake and detestable self that is fronted by a facade which was built upon lies and lies and lies, but also successes that felt unmerited (and layers and layers of defense mechanisms). how could i ever tell you, or anyone for that matter, that when i’m with you i am not entirely genuine? how could i ever tell you that my lack of authenticity with you at times might be because say, you were talking and i was listening and nodding my head, but ‘because i felt so dysphoric all i was thinking of was cutting’.  (i’m a terrible person. i know that, and i believe that most times. and perhaps i really do deserve all of these.)

anyhow, at the end, i think the goal is that i’m alive. i don’t necessarily agree with it. but no one can say that i’m not trying. dysphoria, anxiety, triggers and chronic suicidality are a lot of factors to deal with when it come to the causes of my self-harm. and more so when my self-harm has escalated in the last 2-3 years. i’m not proud of it. no no no. but i’m here. i’m still here. although i’m merely existing, until i figure things out and recovery becomes a real possibility. i recognise that life still goes on, so in doing so i’ll make sure i’ll finish my honours degree by December. it is one of those times in these 7 years where i have to tell myself “Steph, you can’t afford to fall during this period. You just can’t.” and there were no buts. because i knew the consequences of falling during crucial periods. you fall, you end up in hospital much to the dismay of your teachers, you end up deferring your module/course/graduation (yes graduation, fuck it), you repeat the module with strangers while you see your friends on social media graduating or progressing on ie. you got left behind, and teachers all start asking what happened to you, or what happened to you, or heaven forbid, things like why are you so fat, why are you so weak etc. and the thing is, i already fell so many times during this school year, and only got out of the hospital a few weeks ago. many rules and sanctions have been placed on me to make sure i’m safe. everything was fixated on my crazies. but i think no one thought to make sure i was a tiny bit happier or pain-free?

i’ve tried. i really have. doctors in the e-rooms always ask me if i’ve gone off my meds, and i wish i have, but i have never gone off my psychiatric meds (so why the crises???). i’ve always found it an insurmountable task processing the sinking sadness of depression, BPD’s ricocheting, instability in affect and interpersonal relationships, neediness, self-mutilation and suicidality, emptiness that can never be filled, the deep ache that is so visceral, the rage, all of it even until today. yet somehow i’ve allowed some of it to take over. may there be a day, like the psychiatrists say, that my symptoms (or BPD) may be ameliorated. Dr G (not my psychotherapist) once told me that borderlines usually take 5-10 years with psychodynamic psychotherapy. i’ve hit 7. i guess 3 more years to truly see if things really get better? (then again, psychiatrists have told me i’m the worst case they’ve ever seen.)

at this point where i am ending this post, i am feeling quite sad and it feels quite visceral. but well, i’m just gonna try to smoke it off.





Do you know what it feels like to have all the knowledge you’ve painstakingly built up and accumulated in school, slip through your fingers like sand?

They told me it’ll get better. That it’ll go away soon. That there is nothing to worry about. But they don’t understand.

I mean, i am fine being robbed of the newer memories. Nevermind if i don’t remember the events that took place from about February-July this year. Nevermind if i don’t remember much of the Hong Kong trip that took place with my brother, sister, her boyfriend, and myself. Nevermind if i don’t remember what happened on my 21st birthday. Nevermind if i cannot for my life, recall what we did for my bestfriend’s 21st. Of course i am upset with the loss of such memories. It’s a price to pay to make the depression go away, and i guess it really is ok.

It’s ok too, that i am so exceedingly absent-minded these days due to the difficulties in forming new memories, that it gets so annoying.


I want to scream “IT’S NOT FAIR!!!”, but i know nothing is fair in life. I want to shout “BUT I DON’T DESERVE THIS!!!”, and i know i really don’t. But shit always happens. And everything happens for a reason.

But why does this have to happen when i am only 13 weeks away from graduation??? Why does this have to happen when it’s time to put all that i have learnt and experienced to good use and into the clinical context??? I knew i still had it in my whole month of gerontology posting in January.

I’M ANGRY. Why??? But sometimes there are no reasons whatsoever.

I am due for my 12 weeks of pre-registration consolidation placement(PRCP), which simply is my final clinical placement, in December. That is, if i stay relatively stable till then. I have about 2 more months till then, to return to my books to fill up those gaps which amnesia has created. 2 months to try and salvage the knowledge which i’ve built up and accumulated in 3 years. 2 months to regain the ‘confidence’ i had when my knowledge was still intact. 2 months to make myself whole again.

I’m not sure myself, if i am capable of that.

Next week, i am making my first comeback in nearly 10 months. I am due for my Operating Theatre clinical placement. I did go for mine last year at Day Surgery, but i bailed out on the 3rd or 4th day because of the environment  and the triggers it contains(which i will not elaborate here). So now i am going to have to redo it, with hopes that i will at least complete it. I don’t know what to expect. And i don’t know if i’ll be able to stick through those mere 5 days. I’m worried. So are the people on my treatment team. Worried that the past will repeat again. Worried that i’ll fall even further once more. Worried that my recovery will be hindered by the triggers i will face. And perhaps that it’ll be the end of me. I guess i could seek consolation in the fact that my placement next week will not be as demanding as my clinical placements in the ward, especially knowledge-wise.



Dear doctors, i hope you’re not mistaken. Please be right about the retrograde and anterograde amnesia. You have no idea how much i’d give to get it all back.


You know how everything and everyone changes, and all that are left are just memories… Can you imagine what it is like if even those memories are falling through your fingers like sand? How it must be like if such a large part of you were formed with these memories?

It’s like losing yourself and everything that you stand for. For what it’s worth, memories of everything that made you happy, the knowledge you have which became a part of your identity, everything is just leaving you. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.

And what’s left… What’s left are all those bad memories which you try so hard to get rid of.

Amnesia does just that. How does one move forward when the mind has regressed? How does one move forward with the knowledge that those memories may never come back, that new memories may never be formed?

This is utterly atrocious, and if this does not improve, one’s better off dead.

Idle idle

I am whiling my time away while my peers are vexing over their final consolidation placements that started yesterday.

Several issues:

  • TV coma today. I managed to pluck myself away and disengage from being such a TV addict since i got home. But now it’s back, and it’s vicious. I watched TV from 1pm all the way till 10pm today, lying on the new sofa that we got that i love. Well done girl. And thanks a lot cable tv. Life-changing indeed.


  • 4 day of NON-ADHERENCE to ALL my medications again. The last i took was on Friday. Haven’t had any at all since. AGAIN i know. But you don’t know. You will never know what it is like to take long-term daily medications, having to fall off the wagon, and then trying to get back on it because all we got is getting bitten back in the ass. I don’t know what’s really so tough about adherence, why i can magically get on and off the adherence wagon, and i’ve talked endlessly about it. But yes i’ve fallen off again, and this time it’s more dangerous because i am not taking my happy pills, nor my sleeping pills. Who cares about that lousy HCQ that i take for RA? I honestly don’t care about HCQ, and i am really taking it for the sake of it. I’m still convinced it’s a little like a sugar pill for me. For those who’ve been in my situation, i appreciate your empathy. For thos who haven’t even been there, don’t even bother asking yourself what’s so difficult about compliance?


  • Time to stop idling, and get my lazy ass back into my books. My memory is failing me, and for the first time last night, i actually forgot the generic name of Maxolon even though i could remember that Stemetil is prochlorperazine, and anti-emetics like ondansetron and aprepitant are used in oncology. Metoclopromide only came back today, at the snap of my fingers. Ah this is scary. If my memory failed me, i am NOTHING. Nothing at all. Scary shit.


  • I am going to admit. I am finally having problems opening bottle caps. It’s been like 2 months already? Big jar caps. PET bottle caps. Just about anything with caps. It’s maddening actually, but i’ve got it good, and i shouldn’t complain. I’m just surprised that i have problem opening caps when my hands are not badly afflicted by RA. There is an amazing cap opener that we have in the kitchen. Nothing it can’t open. Except that i get very embarrassed when i can’t open my diet coke bottles in public, try as i might. 😦 Something new in my life i guess, and i gotta learn to bloody live with it. At age 20. Good job RA. You are wonderful.


  • Synovitis is back, as i mentioned. Flares flares and more flares. Nothing much to do with the lack of adherence to HCQ(please, 4 days is nothing). Maddening, as usual, because i HATE it. *meh* Make it all go away please.

Pardon my ramblings. I tend to ramble a lot these days. I’m bored and too bottled up i guess.