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Whenever people hear that I’m unable to forget any day of my life, I often receive questions as to how it feels to live with all of those memories, and about whether or not my mind rests at all.
My answer always begins with me saying that I’ve never known life any other way. So the way I remember things is completely normal to me. Also, my life is still livable and I’m able to enjoy just as many happy moments as anyone else would. HSAM has its pros and cons, just like anything else does. I’ll mention them all briefly in this piece, and for the purpose of ending this on a positive note, I will begin firstly with the negatives.
The Negative Side of HSAM
In terms of HSAM the first downside that always comes to mind is that it causes a person to relive memories that are best left forgotten. This is a major hindrance in my life because as well as remembering all the details of events, I also relive all of the painful emotions. Much inner confusion arises from this because despite my conscience and reasoning being that of an adult, my emotions return to how they were at whatever age I was when the memory was created.
The second downside that often comes up is that while a person is constantly reliving memories (involuntarily), it’s hard for the mind to rest. For instance, insomnia is something I’m very much prone to. Whenever it’s dark and quiet in my bedroom, involuntary memories rush through my mind like crazy, keeping me awake. In truth, my mind does that all the time. But when there’s nothing around to distract me, it becomes much more noticeable. So I sleep better if I have a soft light and music on in the background.
The Positive Side of HSAM
Now I’ll move onto the brighter side that’s more favourable to read. The first positive is that I relive positive events just as much as negative events. Waking up on the morning of Easter, my birthday, and Christmas brings along exciting memories from when I was a young child. I still do get presents as an adult on those days, but the flashbacks I experience would make up for me not getting presents anyway. Another advantage is that I can re-taste my favourite food whenever I remember eating it. Though sadly that does not take feelings of hunger away. It more rather makes me even more hungry!
Finally HSAM is quirky and different, which are two values I strive to live my life by. Having HSAM also gives me opportunities to participate in scientific research studies (even if people think it’s strange that I enjoy being a human lab rat). The purpose of memory research is to enable scientists to study the way everyone’s memory works, and to know which areas of the brain need attention and treatment when a person has memory loss. Scientists have now even discovered that memory damage in relation to the hippocampus (which holds our Short Term Memories, and Long Term Memories together with the cortex) could be cured by implanting artificial electrodes into the region. This would mean that neurones could be reconnected to enable people with memory loss to remember again.