My Memory (Or: When did THAT happen? What are you talking about?)

The other day my mom yelled at me, not once, but twice, while I was in the kitchen. Later my BF asked me, “What was your mom yelling about?” My response: “She was yelling at me? I don’t remmeber that.”
I received an email and responded to it not once, not twice, but THREE times, all in a space of 2 hours.
I get HW assignments, and before school is even over, I completely forget about them. Do I write them down? OF course! Do I remember to look at my planner. Of course not!
I lose my clothes, I set my drinks down I can’t remember where I put them, I lose my shoes, I lose my contacts. If I need something, and it’s not in plain sight, I don’t even bother looking. Why? Am I lazy? No, I just realize the futility of actually looking, because I won’t find it. Why? I’ll look somewhere, not find it, get distracted, and look in the same place again. And I’ll do this OVER AND OVER.
I guess I’m just an air-head or something. All I know is, it’s very inconvinent. (I can’t even remember how to spell.)

I have this problem to a certain degree. If I don’t pay attention, I won’t recall what’s up. My mind is forever voyaging, so to speak.

But I can recall trivia I learned 20 years ago.

All I know is that I did have a bad case of whiplash years ago, and my grasp on things has slipped a little.

Are you a migraine sufferer? When I get migraines, I all of sudden have trouble remember the names of things. It seems to be only nouns that I lose. It comes back eventually, but for the longest time things are called “ya know, ya know, that one thing…” I never can remember people’s names anyway, so I don’t forget people’s names because of this.

Also stress can make your memory lapse. Are you stressed about something?

I’ve heard some women complain of forgetfullness as a symptom of PMS. Could that be it? (I don’t have that problem, but during pregnancy it happens to me and I also break a lot of dishes because my grip becomes loose.)

Do you have a high IQ? On reading up on gifted people, I’ve found that sometimes they will be forgetful about certain things because they literally have “more important things on their minds”. Important to themselves of course, probably not the rest of the world.

Are you getting enough sleep?

No, I even rarely have regular headaches. I’m just lucky that way.

Right now I am very stressed. Between home, family, school, the future…oh the list goes on and on. Plus, I tend to be over-dramatic, so a little bit of stress to a normal person is an insane amount of stress for me.

I don’t have that problem either. Thank goodness.

I tend to agree with this assessment. I do not know my IQ, and I don’t think I’m particularly gifted or talented, but this theory could still apply to me.
And I am getting enough sleep.

And this is getting progressively worse. I used to be able to function, and I still can on my own to a certain extent. But I would be literally lost w/o my BF. Thankfully he is understanding and patient. Though it drives him crazy that I can’t find my own bra, but I can remember a football statistic from 3 years ago, or every single lyric to every single Beatles song ever recorded. I can’t remember what movie I saw two days ago, but I can remember every book I’ve read (even the seedy romance novels.)
Hmmmm, maybe I don’t have a very good short-term memory.

This didn’t happen to me until I had kids. It’s just getting worse as the years go by too. I have sticky notes all over my desk and at home. If I think of something I need at the store, I have to write it down immediately or else in 20 minutes I won’t remember what it was that I needed.

Make sure you get enough rest and are eating properly. That may have something to do with it. Don’t over-exert yourself.

I have the exact same problem. I forget anything and everything that happens to me, the people tell me, even where I put something down. The exception is numbers and job related stuff. I remember odd math facts and theorems. It isn’t that I am dumb. I am just massively forgetful.

What was I saying?

This is what occurred to me. You state that you can’t do A short-term memory thing, but that you have no problem with B long-term memory thing.

I don’t think your boyfriend really minds having to find bras for you, really. Just a hunch:D

Ahh, I am also legend for this…

The problem is that when you spout out all sorts of arcane facts about quantum mechanics and evolution, but then can’t seem to remember to stop and pick up milk on the way home, people think you do it deliberately. Sigh…

This is not generally a problem for me but several members of my family have similar complaints, the worst being my youngest son. For him it’s related to Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD). ADD gets a lot of bad press nowadays because there are accusations of over-diagnosis and over-medication, but when it’s real, it’s real (and Ritalin really does help).

It shows up particularly in his schoolwork. He’ll forget the assignment, or do the assignment at home and forget to take it back to school, or take it to school and forget to turn it in. It drives Mrs. Pluto and me crazy because he’s a smart kid but his grades are low.

The memory problem arises because he doesn’t focus on the task at hand – he doesn’t concentrate on what he’s doing, or what’s being said. There’s short-term memory and long-term memory but there’s also very-short-term memory. What happens with him is that things go into very-short-term (because he’s not focussed) and never migrate into short-term like they do for you and me.

There are behavioral things you can do to help, mostly having to do with consciously making note that “this is something I should remember”. Usually that short moment of focus is sufficient to lock it into your memory. Another thing to do is to develop a well-established routine, so that memory is not such a vital part of everyday life. (E.g., when you take your bra off, always put it in the same place.)

Of course you can always just revel in the adventure your life becomes when you forget stuff all the time. (“Now just where are the brakes in this car?”)

“I set my drinks down I can’t remember where I put them”

lol that happens to me alot, but for the most part its cuz ive already had a few.

Alcoholics Anonymous is for quitters

Haley, I may not have mentioned it but I too have very similar problems with memory. My worst problems are with names of people - I am often introduced to someone, shake their hand, and in 30 seconds cannot remember their first or last name. I think it has something to do with the stress of meeting people for the first time. I always get a feeling of self-conscious stress about my appearance or my first impression, and maybe that interferes with my memory process?

Maybe similar stress is interfering with yours?

Sometimes I forget to do things as well, like go to the store, get gas on the way home, whatever. One trick I learned that does seem to work is to repeat out loud to myself three times:

“You need to stop for gas on the way home.”
“You need to stop for gas on the way home.”
“You need to stop for gas on the way home.”

This actually seems to improve greatly my chances of getting something done, although you can’t use it for every little thing you want to remember, and you certainly don’t want people to see you talking to yourself like “Rainman”.


I have read that you can improve your chances of remembering someone’s name upon meeting them by repeating and using their name in every chance afterwards. But it sounds too silly when I try it.

A dear friend has ADD and watching her look for something is frightening. She never puts anything in the same place twice unless by accident. In fact, she doesn’t have a specific place to put anything! Wherever it happens to fall when she is done with it is where it stays. Often enough, other things then get dropped on top of the first. Ritalin helps her–I would guess without it, her life would be totally chaotic.

I’ve had this problem almost all my life, but it never really affected me until I started work.

What I have to do now is to write everything I’ve just done down, or make a list and tick things off as I’ve completed that. I used to think when other people did that, they were just being obsessive. Now I realise that it’s a necessity for forgetful people like myself.

Anthracite, I think the “use the name in conversation right away” trick does work. I have the same problem of immediately forgetting people’s names. (I am also quite shy and self-conscious in meeting-new-people situations.) After I have said the name aloud while looking at the person’s face it seems to be held much more firmly in my memory.

I have also found the “One Minute Manager” techniques (as hateful as they might be) to be quite helpful in my day-to-day life. (I’m a stay-at-home mom of four.) The “touch paper once” rule is particularly important. When one of my kids gets a birthday party invitation, it is much better to immediately RSVP, no matter what time of the afternoon it is. I leave a message rather than wait until later when the parent might actually be home. If I wait, I’ll never do it. When I bring in the mail, I deal with it right away. Hubby’s mail (and bills, since he does them) go in his holder. The rest gets dealt with or thrown away/recycled. Otherwise, I get piles of stuff on the dining room table. I’d like to be less anal-retentive about it, but I can’t. I have to make rules for myself, or I’ll never get things done.

Lists are my life. I have note paper on the fridge, so I can keep a running grocery list. I have a white board in the kitchen, so I can write reminders to myself. I have to write in everything on the calendar. My 5 year old has dance class every Thursday, and you’d think I could remember that, but I still have to pencil it in every week. I have lists up of which day each child’s school library books are due and which day each has phys. ed. (so I make sure he wears sneakers.) I simply can’t keep that sort of information current in my brain.

Ugh, these things sound a LOT like me, (except I’m not on Ritalin) I mean, that pretty much describes me. Putting my bra in the same place more than once? HA!
And it’s very difficult to look for things. It’s even worse when I think to myself “Self, this is where my literature book belongs from now on. Now you will always find it” Of course, I forget where it “belongs” and not only that, it’s not “out in the open” for me. It’s “put away” somewhere.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who goes through this.