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5 Tips for Coping with Chronic Time Loss or Amnesia

Tips for Living with Time Loss or Amnesia

Without a consistent sense of time, the passage of time can feel anxiety-provoking, in a myriad of ways and to profound extremes. Through creating new ways to thrive despite my health battles, I've discovered a few tricks to successfully living with severe time loss and amnesia.


Before clocks existed, people kept track of time by the rise and fall of the sun. The "time" could be marked based on the orientation of the sun in the sky. When the conscious mind lacks orientation in time and space, allowing for an innate knowing about what time feels like and how it passes through space within our day to day lives, our body can still comprehend aspects of this topic. When I begin the sun watching the sun rise, I can physically comprehend that a new day is beginning, even though my mind does not conceptually understand this seemingly simply truth. Likewise, when I begin the day watching the sun fall behind the opposing hillside, I can physically understand that the day that was occurring and had begun with the sun rising, is now ending. The anxiety relief experienced through such rituals is PROFOUND. An added bonus to these daily rituals is the opportunity to sungaze. During the first hour of sunrise and the last hour of sunset, it is safe to look directly at the sun. Such direct light stimulates the brain's pineal gland, which can help with a myriad of health benefits, including balance and regulation of the body's hormones and neurotransmitters. These daily rituals have brought deep peace through the darkest storms during the past year and a half, and I am so deeply grateful for the opportunity to have created and sustained them.


Watching life grow, from a baby to a grown-up, really allows for a sense of presence within time. Although the conscious mind may not remember the specifics of witnessing the plant or animal grow from a baby to an adult, the unconscious mind does, and this can relieve some anxiety. We raised a baby bunny named Agoutikit and watched a tomato plant grow at our neighbour's house. Visually admiring them each day, along with tangible engagement such as holding Agoutikit and smelling the tomato plant, have brought us into these present moments on a daily basis for many weeks now, collectively adding up to months. These daily rituals have provided our body with a sense of time passing, even though our conscious mind cannot comprehend it.


Among our many daily healing journey rituals is a chronic habit of walking down the street and hugging a specific palm tree. Simply beginning the interaction with, "Hello my tree friend!" and concluding it with, "I'll see you tomorrow!" provides a sense of time-orientation for 2 reasons. First, the body remembers things that the conscious mind does not. There is a sense of familiarity when approaching the tree because we've done it every day for over a year. Even though I cannot explicitly remember my life the past year, the implicit sensations linger within the depths of my consciousness. My body remembers the tree even when my mind forgets. Thus, greeting our tree friend every day offers orientation within time that cannot be found through my amnesia mind. Secondly, bidding the tree an audible farewell lovingly suggests that a "tomorrow" exists ~ that, even though I cannot consciously comprehend a sense of time, including the possibility of a future, it truly does exists and shall be embraced, despite the sensations suggesting otherwise. Verbally making a promise to myself and to a 'friend' helps orient self into the moment and the knowing of future moments to come, when that experience would otherwise feel impossible.


Although my conscious mind cannot explicitly access my memory, my body can remember moments when they become activated. For example, I may not remember a special day, but if I see photos and videos from that venture, there is the possibility of remembering that time, even if only in a few fragments of implicit sensational moments. Likewise, I may not remember a certain month of my life, yet if I hear music that I listened to repeatedly during that time period, I have the chance of sensing familiarity that can relieve the anxiety produced by the chronic amnesia and time loss. For these reasons, I've been keeping up personal monthly photo albums where I upload all of the photos taken from that month (and I try to take at least once each day), along with monthly music playlists on Spotify where I find music during each month, save them, and listen to them regularly as a sort of "time checkpoint" within my reality. Now, when I'm curious about an experience from a specific time, or am wondering what I did in a general month, I have somewhere to refer to. Even just having these resources is a deep comfort. Combined with using them routinely to reference my life when I cannot recall it through my mind, an indescribable amount of anxiety becomes relieved as I continue embracing my everyday healing journey of life.


Although I've struggled to keep up with this part of my projects, the concept still holds immense power and potential. At the end of every month, create a bullet point list, or one paragraph summary, of the victories from the following four weeks. These wins don't have to be huge feats: just something to mark this season of the healing journey. For example: learned a new recipe; went on walks every day; began a new journal and invested frequently; met a new friend; went on a trip; sang to myself every week. These little notes of monthly highlights go a long ways when reflecting over months and years of chronic time loss and amnesia, and can bring a sense of personal presence and empowerment where it felt impossible before.


We don't always get to choose the things we go through in this life, yet we ALWAYS have power to choose HOW we go through these things. We are allowed to show up for ourselves in uniquely creative ways. We are allowed to own our infinite worth even when facing health battles. We do not need to apologize for who or what we are. We are allowed to step in to this place of life and create space for all that we are. No matter the specifics, we are worthy of healing, wholeness, and happiness, and we can actively take steps towards creating that reality from the inside-out. We always have power, even when facing indescribably painful battles such as chronic amnesia and time loss. Orientation in time and space is beautiful. The ability to create new explicit memories and consciously access them is miraculous. Living without these abilities is allowed to be miraculous too.

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