I have broken down mostly in such moments- in crowded spaces, amid friends and when no one’s around. In my room and washrooms, I have bawled like a child, clueless about how to come out of it. Nobody is prepared to find their cognition slipping in their early twenties. Forget about taking big decisions in life or applying for a job. Here you are just worried about getting away from the fiendish fangs of memory loss.
Supportive friends who are aware of your mental illness, try their best to cheer you up and remind you of the happy moments. But what they don’t understand is I don’t remember their “remember this”, “remember that”. There is no happy memory as such, and even if there is one, I can’t find it. All my efforts to recall the memories go in vain, leaving me tired and teary-eyed. And no amount of Bhramari or Yoga has helped me deal with it.
There’s no hiding now. What I never told my friends is I don’t avoid them purposefully, I don’t leave that conversation unanswered intentionally.
Worst of all, I have realised you are vulnerable to being gaslighted by people in such situations. You are already in a bad state, and you can’t figure out if they are deliberately doing it. Your mind is in knots, but you know specific aspects of yourself well. So when someone is almost making it believable that you were bad to someone, abused someone on a particular occasion, you can’t believe the thought of doing so to someone. It just leaves you confused for hours because you are made to think that what you know to be true is not true. It takes time for the realisation to dawn that you are being gaslighted.
Not being able to seek professional help amidst a pandemic adds to the guilt. I try to strike a balance, but I fail mostly. My desire to fix everything, desperate attempt to recall those memories, this word, that name, has only put me in an endless loop of confusion. I accept the condition as it is. Maybe this is the only way I can try to unpretzel my mind for now.
(Uttirna is an Odisha based journalist and artist. You can reach her @uttirna96 on twitter and Instagram.)
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