I think I’ve mentioned here before that ECT caused me to lose almost all memory of about a four or five-year period preceding the ECT. I have a few isolated memories of particular events, but they’re disconnected and out of context; I can’t form a coherent timeline or a narrative of that time.
This afternoon, I talked to a friend who I was very close to during much that time period that I can’t remember. She said she said she saved a bunch of notes I’d written her, and she also offered to photocopy pages from her journal where she talked about what was going on with me. She even suggested sitting down and talking about the few memories I do have so she can help fill in some of the blanks. She won’t be able to fill in any information about the work I was doing in my intensive therapy, but a lot of the rest, she does remember.
Part of me is excited at the idea of being able to reconstruct that time. So much of my life is empty holes and blank spaces. It leaves me feeling unsure of who I even am sometimes–how can you know who you are when you can’t remember most of your past? This friend and I are both writers, and she’s encouraged me to write a memoir about that time. I’d like to be able to do that, and even if I don’t, I’ll still feel better if I can put together more memory of it.
But part of me is also hesitant. That was an incredibly difficult, painful time for me. Ultimately it saved my life, but to get there, I had to open myself up to feeling more pain than I’d ever let myself feel in my life. My relationship with my therapist ultimately showed me how to save myself and gave me permission to do it, but I spent a lot of time convinced my therapist hated me. From what I can remember, I spent a lot of time convinced that everyone hated me, but it was much more intense in the relationship with my therapist. I was struggling intensely to give up a lot of self-destructive stuff, and that was incredibly painful. And I was beginning to face the depth of my trauma for the first time. I remember spending most of my therapy hours with one hand shading my eyes, like you might in bright sun, so my therapist couldn’t look at me, although I wasn’t aware for most of that time that that’s why I was doing it. In the two years I worked with that therapist, I’m not sure I ever made direct eye contact with her.
But it’s not like the pain of that time is new, and it’s not now. I survived it once, and it let me save myself. I think remembering that time might let me reconnect with the feelings of hope I eventually uncovered, and that would be a very good thing.