If you can’t remember what you had for breakfast an hour ago, it’s probably because you are so stressed you have a temporary form of amnesia. Before you laugh and say that we all have this issue, you should know I’m not being facetious. It’s a truth; a fact, if you will, that being too stressed out can actually cause a person to experience a form of amnesia that is – thankfully – temporary. It’s called dissociative amnesia, and it’s very real and very serious. It happened to one mother in her 30s. She experienced so much stress in her life that she went to bed one night and woke up having forgotten the past 17 years of her life. She woke up with only the memory of going to bed the night before studying for an exam – when she was 15. She thought her voice sounded funny, her surroundings were not familiar and she had no idea who the little boy was that kept calling her mommy. She looked in the mirror to see a much older version of herself staring back at her.
While she was mostly blank on the past 17 years of her life, Naomi Jacobs was able to recall certain things. She remembered how to drive a car even though she couldn’t remember much past the age of 15. She could also remember the PIN for her debit card. Her memory loss was thought to be triggered by stress, which is a form of memory loss that is not caused by any sort of injury or trauma to the brain. The good news is that over time with the proper treatment, she could regain her memories.
Stress can cause the mind to block out certain things, such as the fact that she was an adult with kids, a job and a life. Her memories are not lost, they are just buried so deep into her mind that she simply cannot recall them. It’s thought that the disease is genetic and that it’s more likely to occur to those who have a familial history of memory loss. Women are more likely to experience this form of memory loss than men (funny, considering most men can’t remember to take out the trash after 30 seconds). It’s a very rare and very real disorder and it can happen to just about anyone.
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