The conversation goes something like this:
"Have you left me a review of my book?"
"Well, of course I've left you a review! I beta-read that book for you. I got a copy on its release day. I came to your release party. Of course I've left you a review. I said... I said...(pause) I didn't leave you a review, did I?"
(Knock, knock.) "Hello?"
"Uh, hi. Have I come to the right house? You are expecting me? I have a consultation at 10am... (Blank horrified stare from me.) Oh, you weren't expecting me, were you?"
"You did send that document off to the tax people, didn't you?"
"Yes, yes. I'm sure I did."
"So this envelope I've just found addressed to the tax people and clearly not posted has nothing to do with that..."
For me this is the scariest thing about my depressive episodes. Not the withdrawal from human contact, not the days sat shaking on the sofa, too weak to walk further than to the kitchen or bathroom, but the memory gaps. Or even worse, the false memories. Tasks undone or forgotten lie like landmines all over my personal and professional life. They frighten me.
There's a very good clinical reason for these memory gaps. During depression, the part of the brain connected with memory shrinks. It's as if part of the filing system has been thrown out. I can only assume that my false memories occur because the creative part of the brain (at least in my case) is unaffected and just makes up what I think must have occurred, rather than remembering what did actually occur.
Now, I would be the first to admit that admin is not my strong point. If you want five hundred words on the inside of a ping pong ball by five o'clock then I'm your woman. If you need an impromptu ten minute speech on the importance of leg-warmers in popular Eighties culture, then just ask. But organising and keeping a filing system up to date... best look elsewhere for that one.
Even so, I like to keep my promises. I like to be professionally reliable. I like to be a responsible citizen who files tax returns on time.
So my challenge is to create, while well, robust and simple systems that will still work when I'm ill. I need visual reminders of what I need to do when. Even down to "System to follow when a client books an appointment." I need a promise book.
I don't know that these reminders will be infallible. I think I will still need people around me to exercise a lot of tolerance and forgiveness when yet another of those landmines explodes. But, by being responsible about it, I should at least minimize the casualties.
A Moodscope member.