Postictal amnesia

I was able to fit another piece of the jigsaw regarding my absences into place yesterday. I’ve known they’re basically a mild form of epilepsy for a while now, but I kept noticing that, even though the seizures themselves only last four of five seconds, they were often followed by gaps in my memory. That is to say, fifteen minutes or so later, I would kind of come to, not being able to remember the last quarter of an hour. I’d be fully conscious in that time, but unable to remember it. Yesterday, for example, I know I had one just after leaving Co-Op, but the next thing I recall eating my lunch at home.

That puzzled me, so I thought I’d try to reassure myself by looking it up. I also asked my mum and neuroscientist cousin Cyril about it. And sure enough, what I now know is called postictal amnesia is a real phenomenon. From what I read, the brain just takes a while to get itself back into order, like a crashed computer taking a few minutes to reboot. Knowing that helps; it means I fret less. Indeed, as I reflected here, since I found out what those damn things are it has been a great boon: I can tell myself not to worry, and that they cannot be helped. This new information adds to that feeling; it also explains why I frequently can’t remember adding to the absence record my parents asked me to keep, as well as meaning I don’t have to worry about my more long term memories fading.

I had been concerned that my memory was being effected by these siesures in some vague way. After all, how does one know you have forgotten something if you have forgotten it? Now I know they do, but in a specific, scientifically-established way, I am not so worried about long-term, important things I want to remember being deleted from my memory. I now know it’s less a case of memories being somehow erased, more a case of new memories being prevented or disrupted from being laid down in the period immediately after the absence. And even if I was somehow losing my long term memory, it wouldn’t necessarily be anything to do with my absences anyway – how could you logically tell there was a connection? It’s funny, but even writing this entry helps, as it shows such things are real and can be documented, that others have had such experiences, and that I am not alone.

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