Memory

Memory loss is devastatingly frustrating and something I was determined to overcome. Forty-two is far too young to succumb to brain malfunction to the extent I was experiencing: we all forget at times but what I was experiencing was so very different. Many factors were, upon reflection responsible for what was occurring inside my mind but I was unable to find the words to express myself or, indeed help myself.

Overwhelmed by being assaulted my body went into shock and begun a slow process of shutting down which occurred over the course of a few days. My emotional state was in turmoil with denial very firmly kicking in until I crash landed which saw me very firmly placed in a hospital bed and in need of emergency CT scans and other tests. I’d plummeted from someone juggling a busy family life, work and full-time degree study to someone who couldn’t make a cup of tea or tell you what a pen was called. Months of internal torment and medical testing revealed my IQ of 192 had diminished and I wanted it back. After fifteen months I began the long, slow process of building myself a memory palace and, over five years post my injury I now function. Although my time-line of events is blurry I can remember a lot of my past (but not all of it) and am less reliant on some of the processes I needed to file new memories away – it has become more automatic than it once was. Embarking on new learning (or relearning old information as if it was new) is a time-consuming process but its one that I am truly thankful I have mastered and will never take for granted.

Having spent many years re-learning what every day items are called; who significant people in my life are and how they fit in; how to read and write again and so much more I can finally say that I'm in a good position again but still feel I have such a long way to go before I have fully caught up with myself.

With determination it is possible to regain what has been lost under some circumstances and I if you are going through something similar its my aim to give you hope.

Welcome!

Sharing my head injury story via Instagram has become second nature so I've decided its time to expand this and make it an official part of my website. Recent re-wording of an extract from my original recovery journal back in September 2015 (almost four years ago) was well received and I though this might be a great place to begin:

"My head injury has shaken the very existence of who I was and aspired to become. Frustration, anger, grief and pain overcome me still: each day a struggle to function at any level of normality. Independence and spontaneity replaced with symptoms that set limits on my identity and ability. Knock-on effects of the assault have resulted in me becoming what I can only describe as someone different. No longer can I juggle family life, work and study; I have taken a back-seat in life as I watch it occur around me. I need for this to change and today I begin the journey to take back control. Determination, motivation and a genetic stubbornness have kicked in as the fight to regain something of who I once was commences. Memory issues continue to restrict me constantly but I have discovered something that I am hopeful will help. A complex process called a memory palace that is giving me faith in my future. Finally I’ve been blessed with a plan that might actually change what I can only describe as internal turmoil..."

As you can tell I was still angry and grieving. I'd lost my identity and was most definitely not accepting of my circumstances. My focus was on inability rather than ability: on what I had lost not gained. Everything was misaligned. There was also a huge battle commencing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I was embarrassed. Speaking openly during interviews became the opening I needed to begin expressing myself and although publishing LOST SOUL: Poetry From A Broken Mind And My Journey Of Recovery was one of the hardest things I decided to do it has opened up so many opportunities for furthering my mental health advocacy and allowing me to accept who I have become.  Now stepping up and speaking out I am taking to the stage to share my knowledge and insight.

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing many aspects of my life with you. In the meantime, if you have any questions please do contact me: support@donnasiggers.com

Look after yourself.

Donna