Severe memory problems!! Anyone have any advice?

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Kaelynn
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12 Oct 2013, 9:51 pm

I have almost every learning disability one can have. This includes, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, aspergers, and a terrible memory, (long term and short term). Now that I am 16, my parents expect more of me than they did before. This means being responsible and that means remembering things I have to do. I have to do laundry, take care of my animals, dress nicely for school and work, make lunch for school, wake up on time, be on time in general. I could go on but I think you get the idea. I love the freedom that comes with responsibility! The problem is, my memory problems are really getting in my way.
I had to pack for a visit with my dad and I forgot to pack the most basic things. Shampoo, a belt, a hair dryer. Things that are hard to forget. I also have no concept of time. I will get in the shower for 30 minutes and think it had been only 10 and then I am late for school. I've tried timers but I'm never finished when they go off so I tell myself to hurry so I can finish up in a minute but then it's been another 10 minutes before I get out because I get distracted! I forget to return library books, I forget to set an alarm, I even forget to set reminders on my phone so I don't forget!! !! :x I have no idea what to do but this has got to get better!! ! How am I ever going to live on my own? I'd forget I'm cooking and set the house on fire!
I have a service dog and she will wake me up for school but only if I set an alarm for her. A few times a week I will sleep through it or turn it off and forget about school. My dog is trained to bother me until I get up. She has other things she trained to do to help with aspergers symptoms; that's the only memory related thing she does. I just feel like nothing works because no matter what sorts of reminders I set on my phone, I always find a way to forget.
Has anyone here been through this or at least have some suggestions for what I could do to help myself?



Bodyles
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13 Oct 2013, 12:48 am

First of all, calm down.

There, that's better.

So here's the thing. I get where you're coming from. I've forgotten I was cooking. More than once. Thing is, nothing ever burned down the house. The only thing that ever got burned was dinner. I can't tell you how many boiling pots of water I've had refill because I let them boil down. Some more than once. So no worries, you're probably not going to burn down the house if you forget you're cooking.

When doing things like packing, pack all your stuff, then think for a minute or two about everything you're planning on doing while there, what you'd need for that sort of thing, then check your bags for all the items.
Then do it again.
That usually mostly works for me, though I almost always end up forgetting something or other.
I always bring some money on trips to buy the stuff I forgot to pack.

Give yourself extra time to do stuff. Especially things like showering where it's easy to get caught up in thought and lose track of time.

I've always had a lot of trouble with that sort of thing. I got better at dealing with it as I got older and developed coping strategies.
I also try to limt my time based obligations as such things tend to cause me problems.

Things I have to bring with me regularly are all kept in the same place and I make sure to check for each thing before I go out anywhere.
Sometimes I still forget something.

The best advice I can give you is: stop beating yourself up over this.
It's not your fault.
You're just going to forget stuff at times, and be late at times.
That doesn't make you a bad person, or lazy, or unmotivated, or irresponsible.
You sound like you're doing the best you can. That's all that really matters. :D



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13 Oct 2013, 12:54 am

Edit: Double post



Last edited by Bodyles on 14 Oct 2013, 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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13 Oct 2013, 2:06 am

Make lists.
Get into a routine.
Give yourself more time than you feel necessary now that you are aware that you have a problem with time management/sense of time.

It takes time to get used to all the responsibilities and develop a good routine. You shouldn't push yourself too hard to the point of getting stressed.



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13 Oct 2013, 6:33 pm

I have a few tricks for dealing with memory problems; they haven't worked for me, but they still might be useful.

1) Eat healthier. (For the past few weeks, I have been getting up at around 10 AM or later, so I eat a late breakfast, and my whole day feels out of whack.)
2) Carry something to help you record information, like a notepad, a tape recorder, an iPod, etc. (Since I don't sleep well or eat well, I am usually so scatter-brained that I forget to bring something to help me remember what goes on throughout the day.)
3) Exercise every day. (I do exercise, but I don't remember to do it often enough.)

If none of these ideas work, you might want to consider speaking with a professional, like a school counselor or something like that.



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13 Oct 2013, 6:45 pm

jk1 wrote:
Make lists.
Get into a routine.
Give yourself more time than you feel necessary now that you are aware that you have a problem with time management/sense of time.

It takes time to get used to all the responsibilities and develop a good routine. You shouldn't push yourself too hard to the point of getting stressed.

This advice is good.

I struggle a bit with this. One thing I have found somewhat helpful is to have a reliable alarm in my phone that tells me to check a list. That list is just a set of pointers to other lists that have things I need to do in them. By building it like a tree, with something really basic at the root, I increase the chance that I will use it appropriately. I still sometimes forget things, but this method is working so far.

Good luck



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14 Oct 2013, 8:26 am

I've been using Luminosity.com to try and exercise my brain. We'll see how that works.



Kaelynn
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14 Oct 2013, 9:32 am

zer0netgain wrote:
I've been using Luminosity.com to try and exercise my brain. We'll see how that works.


I've been using it too! Although I can't say I feel any different or even that it helps in my actual life.



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14 Oct 2013, 1:40 pm

when I had these issues a bit over a year ago it turned out that they were caused by salicylate acid sensitivity.

Salicylate Acids are plants' natural preservative & pesticide. They're in almost all fruits/veggies & very high in herbs/spices, and they're boosted sky high in GMO foods to make them last longer after harvest as well as keep bugs off the crops.

They build up due to a deficiency in magnesium & sulphur. ADHD meds, stimulants, deplete your body of these. I was taking meds at the time.

The solution at the time was to stop eating/drinking them or putting any on my skin (essential oils etc) & to use epsom salts (magnesium sulphate crystals) on my skin daily in order to detox the acids. I made a lotion out of them. The best place to use them is the bottom of your feet as they absorb best there. A hoot foot soak of epsom salts is ideal, but not as convenient as the lotion I rub over my chest/back/shoulders that then absorbs over time. Once you absorb the epsom salts they bind with the excess acids built up in your body and then you can detox them by urinating them out.

I noticed great results in a matter of weeks, but it took 4-6 months to completely detox them. I also cut out dairy and gluten completely at that time as well. Gluten takes 6 months to detox.

I've since learned more and am doing different things to treat myself, but I haven't shared the details as I'm waiting until I've completed the full course of treatment to see how well it works before I disclose everything. In the meantime, I highly recommend you try cutting out salicylate acids as much as humanly possible (including no tea/coffee.) Organic bananas and Organic golden delicious apples are about the only safe fruits to eat. Salt is about the only safe seasoning. Also, definitely use epsom salts - either foot soaks every day/evening, or mix them into a lotion - especially if you're taking stimulant ADHD meds.


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14 Oct 2013, 2:11 pm

jk1 wrote:
Make lists.
Get into a routine.
Give yourself more time than you feel necessary now that you are aware that you have a problem with time management/sense of time.

It takes time to get used to all the responsibilities and develop a good routine. You shouldn't push yourself too hard to the point of getting stressed.


Good advice indeed. I'm pretty forgetful myself. It used to be worse, but I think pretty much all the mitigation is due to applying more routines (always do laundry at 7 pm on Sundays, is one fixture for me), and I probably owe some to increased paranoia due to past inconvenient omissions. That paranoia does increase my anxiety, so I'm uncertain whether it's a good trade-off or not.

I also try to work around the issue when feasible. The obvious examples I can think of are with regard to remembering objects to bring somewhere. If I'm going somewhere that requires extensive packing, I'll pre-pack my bags the night before, since that allows me more time to think of what to pack and to go through the bags and see if anything is obviously missing. If we're talking smaller objects, I just keep them in my backpack permanently, at least if I know I'll have regular use for them. My polyhedral dice are an example of that last technique.



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14 Oct 2013, 2:28 pm

How about you name one problem and we try to propose ways to help with that? In general, there are probably ways to use lists, alarms, and such that you've not thought of for lots of things probably, but the more we can know what to help with the better.

Visual timers, where the clock is counting down and showing the amount of time left analog instead of digital might help.

Alarms that go off with 5 minutes left, and then when the time is done will likely help. (Especially if this is preset, so you don't need to set two alarms every time).

Alarms that go off at the same time every day.

Lists, that aren't only lists but also reminders, that will beep and remind you of what you need at specific times. I use that on my smartphone.

If you take meds, things where you put your meds in weekly containers, so you know if you've taken them, and also so you know if you need to refill them noticably in advance when you refill. (That was one of my issues, was not remembering to refill my meds until suddenly I needed them now).

Boil water in electric pots which automatically turn off if they boil it all off. It's small and you can't cook much in it, but it won't burn away pots that way. We have one for an electric kettle that can also be used for cooking pasta in it. So, maybe, it'll boil away all the water while you get distracted waiting for it to boil, but it won't burn the pot or anything. (We got this after burning through multiple kettles)

Routines. Routines are your friend.

A little trick I found that helps me but is silly, is I keep a list of things I need to bring somewhere or get from the store and on that list is one item that's nonsense. It varies what it is list to list. But I'll remember to get every other item, but not the nonsense item. If I don't have a nonsense item, I'll reliably forget one thing, but having a nonsense item overcomes that. I have no clue why it works. This started when my boyfriend and I were reading a webcomic that included a cat that was obsessed with vodka and he jokingly added vodka to the shopping list in reference to the comic as and it was the first time I hadn't left an item behind even having a shopping list.

And the more you can reduce sensory overload the better you can do too.



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14 Oct 2013, 6:00 pm

As far as losing time in the shower I use the alarm on my iPod (and also use it for lists and other timed reminders), but I just found these...

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywor ... xofobb5i_b



cardinality
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14 Oct 2013, 7:52 pm

Kaelynn wrote:
I have almost every learning disability one can have. This includes, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, aspergers, and a terrible memory, (long term and short term). Now that I am 16, my parents expect more of me than they did before. This means being responsible and that means remembering things I have to do. I have to do laundry, take care of my animals, dress nicely for school and work, make lunch for school, wake up on time, be on time in general. I could go on but I think you get the idea. I love the freedom that comes with responsibility! The problem is, my memory problems are really getting in my way.
...
Has anyone here been through this or at least have some suggestions for what I could do to help myself?


Hi Kaelynn! You are definitely not alone here, lots of us have to deal with scattery brains. :)

Sounds like you are panicking a bit because you have a lot to remember and get stuck having to remember things at the last minute, when you're in a rush. Part of this is being a teenager with some specific issues, and part of this is learning how to be an adult with those same issues. :) It takes time, practice, and repetition!

My whole life goes easier when I have the right systems in place. Ask your mom or dad for feedback on this. What helps me is to reduce the number of choices/things I have to remember to the bare minimum. I am always preoccupied, so if I am not really paying attention during actively working on a task, I space out and forget parts of the whole, like you said with forgetting your belt.

It does get really boring sometimes to stick to a strict schedule, and sometimes I resent it, but I know that it's what works for me. Eventually, you will learn the lessons imparted by the system or schedule, and then have some freedom to modify it a bit.

I am a ruthless list-maker, and I always, always have to put things in the exact same place or I will forget about it. This is how I learned to organize myself. Between my lists and keeping things in the right place, I usually have a good handle on things.

This coming weekend, grab some notecards and plan ahead for your next week. If you are a visual person, get creative and make yourself a big ol' activities/to-do chart, and stick it somewhere prominent, so that you can check off tasks/actions every day. (Make sure to attach a pen or marker to the chart!)

1. ) Start out by organizing your to-do's into common areas or subjects, like: chores, dog, school, self-care, fun. One note card or sheet of paper for each.
2.) Write down everything you can think of related to that subject. Break down the overwhelming idea of "do chores" into "these are the specific things I have to do in order to complete the entity known as 'do chores'."
3.) Think about when you feel most capable of doing certain things.
4.) Write up your chart/board with the activities listed as a left-hand column, and the days of the week as a row across the top. Make a grid underneath to check each thing off as you do it.
5.) For keeping yourself organized at school, make sure that you find the right planner system for you, and use it religiously. At the beginning of the semester, go through ALL of your syllabi and write down due dates in your planner. If you need to break down assignments by weekly goals/sub-tasks, add those, too. Use highlighters or colored pens, etc...something that will give your system visual and mental hierarchy. (Getting this system going now will also really help you once you get to college, if you decide to go, and/or once you're out on your own.)

Examples of follow-through:

*Set aside a block of three hours on Saturday for laundry, after your wake-up/breakfast time. Wash and fold and put away ALL of the laundry. Don't leave it in your laundry basket as a "visual reminder" that you need to do it...just do it so it will be done.

*Every morning, before you do anything else, make your bed. You can make this easier on yourself by only sleeping under a duvet/comforter. Just make it look like you made an effort. :)

*Every night, stop working on homework/whatever at 9:00 PM. Say: I will spend an hour getting ready for tomorrow, beginning at 9:00 PM. Start with: make your lunch and put it in the fridge. If need be, every day when you are done with this task, put a post-it on the fridge: "Self: at 6:30 AM, take lunch out of fridge and put in backpack." After making your lunch, set out your breakfast for the next morning, or at least mug, plate, utensils, etc. Next, go to your room and set out the next day's outfit, down to accessories, coat, hat, umbrella, whatever. (Or: always keep a folding umbrella in your bag or backpack.) After setting out your clothes, grab your PJs and go to the bathroom to wash your face, brush your teeth, and put on your PJs. Put your dirty clothes *in the hamper* and not in a pile on the floor. :) Lastly, plug in your phone/gadgets so they will be charged in the morning. The key to this sort of thing is the repetition and doing it at the same time every day, until it becomes a habit. (21 days!)

*Keep a notebook with you (in addition to your planner, if needed). Throughout the day, write down EVERYTHING you think you need to remember. Maybe do a page-a-day. You can review this list at the end of the day, cross off items, and transfer "actions" to your chore-board if needed.

*When you get home from school, give yourself 15 minutes to unwind, and then do early evening chores: clean out lunchbag, set the table for dinner, whatever. If you always know that you have your chores done by 6:30 PM, you'll be able to do homework from 7:00 PM-9:00 PM with a clear conscience. This will help your executive function abilities, because your mind won't be using excess RPM cycles to try to remind you that you need to do XYZ while you are trying to focus on doing your schoolwork.

*When you pack for a trip, first of all, go on Google and search for a packing list. You can use this to make your own for future trips. After you've gone through the list & laid it all out on the bed, take a 15-minute break, then come back and look over everything. Don't put the stuff in your bag until the entire collection is there. Sometimes, seeing all the assembled items helps to jog my memory, like, "Oh, yeah, there are my dress pants and dress shoes, but I don't see the belt...let me go get that." I've even gotten to the point of keeping a separate, already-packed toiletries bag for my trips, and it lives in my bathroom closet. I keep multiples of the same thing for wherever I need them, so I know that I will generally always have what I need where I need it, when I need it.

Does this kind of stuff make sense or sound do-able? I used to read "organization geek" blogs, books, etc. to figure out how to do this stuff. I prefer a bit of the Getting Things Done method, and (if you don't mind the language) I really enjoy a blog called Unf***k Your Habitat. It's a bit "yelly" but in an exasperated-but-understanding-older-sister way.

As for the alarms and stuff...other posters already nailed this, I think. You either need an alarm that will SCARE YOU AWAKE, like a Big Ben clock, or you need to enlist a family member's help in getting up on time and making sure you are upright and out of bed. This was really hard for me, too, so don't feel bad! I'm glad your dog can help you. :) (This is another thing to add to your before-bed chore list: set alarm. Check it off when it's been done. NO item is too small to add to the chore board!)

If your parents don't mind giving your chore-board a once-over at the end of the night, that might help, too. They might spot anything you've missed, AND they will be able to see (via check-marks on the board) how well you are doing with keeping up on tasks.

I'm not gonna lie, I really have to fight my natural inclinations at times to stick to a system like this. However, when I DON'T stick to it, all hell breaks loose and I constantly am in a panic and getting anxious over the miasma of things to remember. I feel a lot less depressed and anxious when I know I am "on top" of everything, and it helps me achieve my goals and live life my life, in a good way.

I hope this helps a little? I apologize if I sound too pedantic. ;) Feel free to email me if you want any other feedback, and if you'd like, I would be glad to send you my copy of Getting Things Done. It really helped me figure out how to break big amorphous tasks down into bite-size pieces.

Good luck! :)

(Edited to fix a few things.)


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Last edited by cardinality on 14 Oct 2013, 10:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.

shrox
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14 Oct 2013, 8:07 pm

If you have a cell or smart phone use the reminder and alarm features on it.



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17 Oct 2013, 9:05 pm

Tuttle wrote:

A little trick I found that helps me but is silly, is I keep a list of things I need to bring somewhere or get from the store and on that list is one item that's nonsense. It varies what it is list to list. But I'll remember to get every other item, but not the nonsense item. If I don't have a nonsense item, I'll reliably forget one thing, but having a nonsense item overcomes that. I have no clue why it works. This started when my boyfriend and I were reading a webcomic that included a cat that was obsessed with vodka and he jokingly added vodka to the shopping list in reference to the comic as and it was the first time I hadn't left an item behind even having a shopping list.



This made me laugh - I have to try it as I always have to forget something - it's like my brain's always attempting to foil me in some way - so maybe this way, I'll be able to foil my brain in return!

If it works I'll be coming back to for advice on how to combat my brain's desire to always make me late by ensuring that something vitally important needs my attention just as I'm about to go out the door.....grrrr.....damn this pesky brain!