I spoke too soon. What I said last week is still true; I am not freaking out over holidays, birthdays, or photographs. But I am very confused and don’t know why.

I walk into a room and have no idea why I did that. I don’t know what task I planned to do next. I don’t know what to do with emails, so I just let therm pile up, which is not a good way to treat people. I forget words, words for simple things as well as complicated things.

And I lose things. Oh, do I lose things! One morning I lost my purse and spent three hours looking for it, only to find it where is belonged. I didn’t get much done that day except to notice all the things that I meant to do and didn’t. Yet.

I don’t feel crazy – I fear I’m getting demented, although I don’t feel demented. And I am pretty sure that aphasia and short-term memory loss do not occur overnight without having had a stroke. I would know if I had had a stroke, wouldn’t I?

Back in the bad old days, when I first remembered the ritual abuse, this happened to me all the time. I would walk into a room and freeze, not knowing why I was there, looking around stupidly. It was a crippling form of agoraphobia.

I figured out that it was a flashback; I was afraid to leave a room where I was safe, where I was not being hurt, and go into a different room where God knows what was awaiting me. So each time I went into a different room, I froze in fear and it took a while to feel safe there. And of course by the time I came back into the present, I had no idea why I was there and had to guess what I had wanted.

I don’t remember having to reach for words back then. It’s happened sporadically over the last few years, and when I told my therapist she said it was a side effect of the antidepressant I am on. I’m pretty sure it’s reversible, but, even if it isn’t, it’s better than being suicidal. I’m afraid to go off of my antidepressant, because with older people you run the risk of it not working if you need to go back on.

The most likely explanation is some sort of flashback. That would mean that I am fighting remembering something that is worse than what I have already remembered. That seems unlikely, though I have learned to accept that nothing is impossible.

I did a quick mental literature review and this was the only thing that came to mind: David W. Neswald, Catherine Gould, and Vicki Graham-Costain: “Common Programs Observed in Survivors of Satanic Ritualistic Abuse.” You can find it at

In it, they describe “Scrambling Programs.”

“These are programs intended to confuse, disorganize and/or block the patient’s alter system, emerging memories, thought processes, and/or incoming information. Often, there are specific alters designated by the cult programmer to perform this function (e.g., “The Scrambler”). Reduced ability to “switch,” speak, write, draw, read, and/or remember previous sessions/work are potential tip-offs to the enactment of a scrambling program.”

I don’t have that kind of system, and it’s not quite what I am experiencing, but it sorta fits. Certainly if my distraction and absent-mindedness is meant to keep some memory from surfacing, it is doing a very good job. It’s also doing a great job of making me miss dentist appointments, forget to do the dishes, and stare at something I am looking for and simply not see it.

Perhaps it’s designed to make me worried about becoming demented and so strengthen my identification with my mother. She had many TIA’s (transient ischemic attacks, when a blood vessel closes temporarily and deprives the brain of oxygen) and became totally aphasic over a period of fifteen years. Passive, too; all she could do was watch television and read the paper. I think she could understand more words than she could say. I dread becoming more passive than I already am and greeting the world each day with deep inertia. I have far too many things I want to do.

(Like: I have 175 quotes for the journal/diary I am working on. That’s almost half! Anybody got something relevant to healing? Doesn’t have to be about RA. And anybody know how to make a PDF that you can type on? Or can somebody make little line drawing of flowers and leaves and plants?)

Until I figure this out or it goes away on its own, I have a choice. I can bitch about it and blame myself and feel guilty, or I can live with it and go about my day. I can accept that it will take me longer to do the things I want to. I can be happy that walking aimlessly from room to room is a good form of exercise. Right now I have a warm cat on my lap whose purr soothes me as I reach for a word that has retreated into the depths of my mind, taking all synonyms with it. Post it notes and a kitchen timer will help me get to where I am going on time, on the right day. It could be worse, much worse.