Dear Dr - I am a 22yr old female, on no medication for mental health etc. However, I am wondering if my level of forgetfulness is normal. I was abused by a relative until about 6/7 yrs old, at which point a court order prevented access. Since then I've had a generally happy life. However, I can remember hardly anything of my childhood up to and beyond 7. I can remember nothing of the abuse, nor the face/appearance of the abuser. I can remember nothing until about 6 years old, and even then this feels like a false memory - I have an intellectual knowledge that such and such happened, but actual memories and emotions attached are gone. My memories are extremely sketchy right up to about 15yrs old. What worries me is that even now, I keep "losing" key events in my life. Even things I enjoyed and should still treasure have become vague and in some cases forgotten entirely. The most recent key event was approximately 2/3yrs ago (I'm not even sure of the year without a look at a diary!) and has become very vague. I have moved house a lot in my life, and it is distressing that I quickly forget the names, faces and details of people I knew very well in a matter of about a year. I occasionally retain some, but it appears random which I do remember! I also struggle to remember names and faces and information about people I meet at social gatherings, which makes me anxious as people remember me and greet me and I can't remember a thing about them!
I've heard the phrase disassociative amnesia or something used to describe bits of memory missing due to traumatic events. Is what I'm experiencing that? And can it cause bits to go missing later in life too, perhaps when under stress? I was bullied at school from 12 to about 15, and then moved, and I've lost that bit too.
You have a great deal of trauma in your life, and your brain is doing the best it can to block out the memories and the consequences. It is a very common reaction to what you describe. Sometime, when you can, you should enter a program of psychotherapy to help you piece together your thoughts and feelings, and especially to help you deal with the inevitable fears of trusting in a real intimate situation.
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