Posted by: Liza | 2009/04/16

My goldfish memory(long) Anybody help?

I honestly have the memory of a goldfish. And sometimes it must seem so obvious to my colleagues when they try to explain something to me and not only am I writing down everything they say, I have to ask them to repeat what they are saying so that I get it down right. I' ll understand the first part of an explanation (the first couple of seconds) then when they get to the second part of an explanation, I can' t remember how it came about. Then I look back at my notes to understand again, miss a second or two of the continued explanation and ask for it to be explained for a third (or fourth, or even fifth) time. It makes me anxious or embarrassed which makes the whole situation even worse.

I feel stupid and incompetent in front of my colleagues because my boss doesn' t want anyone to know about my bipolar due to the stigma.

The whole goldfish memory thing came about when a previous shrink put me on a excessive dose of Rivotril, repeated month after month for a very long time. You guessed it - I can' t remember how long I used it, but it must have been longer than a year, perhaps even 2 years. After that my short-term memory was really bad, but it has improved to the extent that I can generally recognise people I' ve been introduced to or met within the past week. Even if I cannot remember their names. At one stage it was so bad that I had to meet a person 3 times before I remembered their face, never mind their name.

Back to the point - must I chat to my boss about the memory problem? So that he can take it into consideration when receiving progress reports from my senior colleagues?

I' ve already been raked over the coals twice for taking too long on work issues before asking for help. This came out with some recent progress reports my boss received. The last time wasn' t even my fault - I did ask for help from my mentor in time, he just didn' t provide any help in time and I went ahead and asked my previous mentor for help. She then ' complained'  about needing to mentor me. Not a real complaint - she just mentioned it to our boss. I had to defend myself and that made me feel bad for ' ratting'  on my current mentor. Currently I' m more comfortable asking the section specialists for help than my mentor, because most of the time his knowledge just isn' t comprehensive enough to solve my problems. And it feels like a waste of time to ask him first, before going to the source of the specialist information, or having him go to the source of the specialist information for me. Why run around the block to the shop when the shop is right next door? Oooh - I think I should give my boss that analogy the next time I get a complaint!

Anybody have the same or similar experiences?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

It must have been a hard day. I began by wondering why you were troubled by memories of a gold-fish, not usually the most endearing of pets.
Anyhow. I wouldn't be surprised if high doses of Rivotril scrambled your memory --- it'd be rather odd if it didn't. As it sounds as though your boss is trying hard to be understanding and helpful and knows about your bipolar disorder, it might be as well to mention the memory worries as well. And discuss this with your shrink who should know you well by now. SOme psychological testing could check and may find that your basic memory may be fine.
In the office, maybe use a dual approach --- ask your mentor ( who does't have to know everything, just to know who DOES know every specific thing _ and rather than expecting him to know all the answers, ask his advice about who to ask for more specialized advice, suggesting the source you were thinking of. That way you get the best advice and have a happier mentor

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