Long term memory loss, not sure what to do and need help
October 27, 2012 5:36 PM   Subscribe

For a while now, maybe several months or so (this only proves further how terrible my memory is) I have been experiencing long term memory loss. I have great trouble remembering my childhood, places I've been to, anything at all that i learned in school a year or two ago. I always forget what I say to people even a few weeks ago. They will talk about something I said or something I did and I won't remember. When I go to bed, the hours just before become unknown to me. When I try to remember what happened in the last hours of the night it is all foggy and fragmented. This is not something I normally experience, especially all the things I've done with family and friends, I can barely remember anything and it makes me very sad.

I have become extremely frustrated about this and contemplated suicide to escape my shitty brain (no, I'm not a suicidal person so no one need freakout, I don't plan on doing it or anything). I WANT TO REMEMBER! But I just fucking can't and it makes me want to punch a wall in. I can't remember fun times with my father or mother or my grandfather who passed away.

Could it be the alcohol? I am not an an alcoholic, I never really get very drunk, and I usually only drink 1 or twice a week maximum, normally once every two weeks or so. Could it be the small number of times I took valium or oxycodone, the 5 or 6 times I smoked pot? I don't know.

To make matters worse I can't exactly approach my doctor or a therapist (which I've only seen twice months ago but I stopped going) about this because then I'd have to admit to prescription drug abuse (stolen from my family) and also stealing alcohol from my family to drink alone in my room. I don't exactly think my drinking is a problem. I never feel like I need a drink or anything like that and I really don't drink huge amounts when I drink either.

I don't know what to do but I need help, I feel like my brain is melting away like melted cheese and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I can't go to anyone. I'm trapped in my own head. I thought I may be depressed but I have no fucking clue what that means, how am I supposed to know? Someone please help me I just want to remember it all.
posted by johnx to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
you need to go to your doctor and your therapist immediately and tell them what's going on. that's it. go to your doctor and your therapist tomorrow, and tell them everything. abusing prescription drugs and stealing alcohol - so what? these are nothing compared to the importance of getting qualified help, immediately. call their offices now. don't wait any longer.
posted by facetious at 5:41 PM on October 27, 2012 [8 favorites]

What if they try and get me in trouble with the law for using prescription drugs not for me or if they try and tell my family?
posted by johnx at 5:42 PM on October 27, 2012

If you're being honest here about your level of alcohol and drug intake, that should not be a factor at all. You need to go to the doctor.
posted by something something at 5:42 PM on October 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

I am being honest, I drink once or twice a week but not very much, never black out drunk or anything. I only tried oxycodone briefly (maybe 7 times thats being generous) and valium just as little, if not less. This was many months ago.
posted by johnx at 5:44 PM on October 27, 2012

Go. To. Your. Doctor.
posted by mhoye at 5:45 PM on October 27, 2012

Based both on this question and on your entire posting history it's completely clear that you need to seek medical treatment as soon as you can. Please stop using the internet as a substitute for a trained mental health professional. No one here can give you the help that you obviously need.
posted by RogerB at 5:46 PM on October 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

dude, even if you *aren't* being honest about your drug and alcohol intake, it makes no difference. even if you're boosting shit out of the best buy every day, it makes no difference. medical professionals can get in *massive* trouble for divulging their patients' secrets. you need to take action immediately.
posted by facetious at 5:47 PM on October 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

If you're in the U.S. (are you in the U.S.? I'm going to assume you are.), Doctor-patient confidentiality is a very strong thing. Basically it means that what you tell your doctor will stay with your doctor. The idea being that we as a society think it's more important for someone in your shoes to get the help that they need than for us to punish you for something like this.

Consider that again, in light of your question: we as a society would rather have you get help than put you in jail. And you know how much we like to put people in jail.

If your doctor drops a dime on you -- to the law or to your family -- she can lose her license to practice medicine. It is highly, highly unlikely that she's going to do that.
posted by gauche at 5:47 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go to your doctor and tell them ALL of this. They won't call the cops and they won't tell your parents. Just go.
posted by joan_holloway at 5:49 PM on October 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Go to your doctor. If you can't remember long periods of time, you may not have an accurate sense of how much you actually drink. Have you considered that in addition to being a danger to yourself, you could be endangering others too. Don't deny yourself aide here. Please buck up and go ASAP.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:50 PM on October 27, 2012

They won't call the cops and they won't tell your parents

Unless you are underage.
posted by elizardbits at 5:51 PM on October 27, 2012

johnx, I've looked a little at your posting history on some of these issues, and it seems like you keep coming up with reasons to not take the consistent advice that people here are giving you. If you can, please consider that these reasons you keep coming up with for not taking care of yourself are your own mental illness fucking with you.

I don't know what is going on with you, I'm just a guy on the internet, but it seems pretty clear to me that, for your own safety and well-being, you are going through a place right now that you really should have the help of a trained professional. There's really, really nothing to be ashamed of in that. We all need help sometimes. I think this is one of those times for you.

Please take care of yourself. See a doctor, and be honest with them. They want to help; that's why they are there.
posted by gauche at 5:56 PM on October 27, 2012 [22 favorites]

The fact is that no one here can diagnose you. It is not possible. The only way you will get diagnosed is to go to your doctor. Don't argue with people here about their tone; you've asked us for advice, and I can promise that this will be one of the unanimous threads where everyone goes "Doctor!"
posted by rtha at 6:06 PM on October 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

Nobody's saying you're a danger to society. People are saying you might have some medical condition that a doctor could help with. Whatever underlying problem you have, it isn't simple enough for random internet commenters like us to help you with.
posted by hattifattener at 6:06 PM on October 27, 2012

We think you're a danger to yourself. You need to get help for yourself. You have quite scary symptoms and are refusing to engage with the people who can actually help you. We are asking, very explicitly, for you to take care of yourself.

I have found doctors tend not to give a shit about stuff like that outside of the things they are mandated to report and trying to help you discontinue harmful behaviours. My doctors have only ever cared about my drinking in order to help me be healthier. The only time questions about how/when etc. have come up has been in order to assess if it is problematic - and one of the key indicators is memory loss, blackouts.

The thing is, they will be able to ascertain, far better than us, if there is a physical cause, a behavioural cause, or what. We can't do a blood workup, we can't do a scan, we can't do a physical. A doctor can, but if you won't tell them the problems in the first place they cannot even begin to help.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:08 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

johnx, from your own description, you currently live in a world that keeps shrinking. Don't choose to stay there. Don't let your fear rule you. The hive mind can only be a signpost for you in this instance; it cannot solve this problem for you or tell you how to do it. It's not a "how do I fix a flat tire" question. If you're going to find your way to a place you can feel good about, you need to get on top of this, and it is very unlikely that you will find a way to do it without consulting a dedicated, professional guide.
posted by perspicio at 6:10 PM on October 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes. It could be the alcohol, or any of the other substances you've tried. It also could be something entirely different. Your doctor can help you find out, if you're honest about every possibly contributing cause.
posted by RainyJay at 6:10 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I feel like my brain is melting away like melted cheese and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

Well, you can start doing something to stop it by making an appointment with your doctor. There could be a medical reason for your memory loss that the hivemind isn't equipped to diagnose.
posted by Linnee at 6:11 PM on October 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

No, that's absolutely not what we are saying. I, anyway, am saying that you appear -- to me, based on what you're writing about yourself -- to be in some distress of a sort that feels familiar to me. Depression, anxiety, maybe something else, I don't exactly know.

But because it feels familiar to me, and because I know how much pain I was in, I feel like I should help you by giving you what was given to me: permission and encouragement to go see a doctor who has helped me and is helping me manage what I've got.

If I may employ an analogy: it is as though one time, I almost drowned, but at the last minute, as my lungs were filling up with water and all the pain and terror of drowning was in full force, somebody saved me. And now I'm walking beside a body of water and there you are, and it looks to me like you're drowning, and I've got a life preserver and this pole. I hate to see someone drown. If you would only grab on to the pole.

So, no I don't think you're a danger to society (although blacking out is inherently somewhat dangerous and I do think you should think about your responsibilities there). I think you're drowning and I think I know what that feels like, and I think there are people who would be happy to help you but you're not grabbing onto the pole. The pole is stopping making excuses and calling a doctor and a therapist.
posted by gauche at 6:13 PM on October 27, 2012

It really is simple. You have a medical condition. There is one, and only one thing to do in that case. See a medical professional. There are no secret tips or tricks that can change anything about your situation. Something has gone wrong somewhere in one of the thousands of interconnected systems that run your body. There is exactly one group of people on the planet who are capable of finding out what is wrong and how to fix it. Those people are called doctors.
posted by ronofthedead at 6:14 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

[OP, this needs to not become a back and forth discussion. Clarify if you need to, but beyond that please just let people answer.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:17 PM on October 27, 2012

I can't go to anyone. I'm trapped in my own head.

Others here have experienced, or witnessed, something similar, and they are telling you: There is a way out. Tell the voice to shut up, and reach out to a doctor. Your feelings of fear and shame are very real to you, and your doctor will not judge you for them; he or she will be much, much more interested in figuring out what's going on with you, because his or her focus is on getting results and getting you better. It could be a simple fix, but you won't know until you make that call and go. Please give yourself a fighting chance at reclaiming your memory and your sense of well-being. Call a doctor, and keep the appointment.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:20 PM on October 27, 2012

I have admitted occasional pot use to my docs. They shrug. We move on.

Once a friend gave me a controlled anxiety drug. I mentioned it to my doctor. He was like, whatever.

I don't think it's at all uncommon for people to precription drugs that were not prescribed to them, once or twice in their lifetimes.

If you are still concerned, you can mention it as a hypothetical "Doc, if someone told you that they had used these drugs without a prescription, what would your response be? Would you feel obligated to report them to the cops." And see what they say. If they say they would report it and you would go to jail, find another doc. But I highly doubt you will get that response.

Don't let that fear be the reason you don't seek help.
posted by bunderful at 6:23 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

One last thing: I bet that, once you do get the help you need, and it starts working, you are going to be pissed as hell at the shame and the fear that have kept you from getting help for so long. You are going to say to yourself, "What the hell was I fucking thinking? I should've done this years ago."

Start today. It's worth it.
posted by gauche at 6:26 PM on October 27, 2012

Go to the doctor.

If you have to explain to your family why you are going to the doctor because of health insurance or whatever, you can tell them what is happening without sharing the drugs and alcohol part.

While ideally you would share all applicable information with your doctor, if disclosing your drug use is what is keeping you from going, I would say go anyway and leave that information out. It isn't what you *should* do, but I don't think substance use to the degree you describe is really correlated with memory loss.
posted by vanitas at 7:40 PM on October 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your memory loss sounds frightening and if it were me I would certainly go to a regular medical doctor asap in case I had an undiagnosed disease or injury. There are many reasons this could be happening to you. This thread is heavily weighted towards seeking psychiatric help or going to a therapist which is, imho, a whole separate thing from the serious physical symptoms you're experiencing at the moment. You deserve to have that treated so go! Your doctor will tell you what they thing is causing it and send you for tests or to specialists, maybe they will want you to see a psychiatrist but you can deal with that when it happens. In the meantime deal with the problem at hand.

If it helps I would guess that 50% of young people have tried illegal drugs once or twice and 95% have stolen alcohol from their parents and consumed it in their bedroom on the sly. And while I'm not a doctor I doubt that occasional drinking or a few instances of drug use could cause this or most people would be having memory issues so please don't blame yourself for your symptoms. You haven't done anything 5 billion other people haven't done, ok?
posted by fshgrl at 8:01 PM on October 27, 2012 [7 favorites]

btw, if this just started since you turned your heating on for the winter you should get a carbon monoxide monitor and check your house. Especially if you sleep downstairs. It's a big problem around here and depression, memory loss and confusion like you describe are the symptoms they say to watch for (along with headaches). I mention this in particular because you say your symptoms are worse at night. If you feel really terrible or can't get a monitor today, call the gas company and they'll come check your furnace for you.
posted by fshgrl at 8:07 PM on October 27, 2012 [16 favorites]

Trust me, you are not going to be the first person who your doctor has talked to about drugs and drink. You might not even be the first person that day. Doctors also don't have the time to report all their patients' indiscretions to the police - even if they were inclined to (which they aren't).

The important thing is getting yourself looked after.
posted by chiquitita at 3:42 AM on October 28, 2012

GO TO YOUR DOCTOR. Seriously. The first thing you should do tomorrow morning is make appointments with your therapist and doctor.

If you're really that worried, you don't have to say that you've been stealing the drugs/alcohol. Just say you've been drinking/using drugs, and how often. They aren't going to care where it's coming from, they just want to help.

Think about it this way. There are many diseases that get worse if left untreated but are fairly harmless if they are caught in time. Refusing to get medical care risks damaging your brain. Just go already.
posted by zug at 10:49 AM on October 28, 2012

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