Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Memory reboot

I had to reboot my memory last week as this process of remembering every day that passes went into meltdown. It happened just as I reached the 1000 day milestone.

I was having a hectic time and was unable to complete my daily review of memory tags for the same day of the month stretching back to 2011.

Whenever this happens, I catch up by reviewing consecutive days the following day. For example, today is 17 September, so I will review the 17th of each month. If I hadn't completed the review yesterday, I would call up the images pinned to my mental calendar for the 16th and 17th of each month.

Last week the missed days piled up so I was faced with reviewing not two, but three then four days of each month, which began to feel overwhelming. If I didn't complete the review, the next day I'd have even more days to run through.

The solution seemed obvious: full memory reboot.

I did something I have not done for a long time. I ran through every day from the start of this process on 17 December 2011.

It took several days as I had to fit it into spare moments, just as with my usual day-per-month review.

My day still began with a more detailed review of the past 6 months, though here too I was experiencing problems as I explained in my last post. I only fully recovered all the memory tags for the last month yesterday.

Once the 6-month review was out of the way - or as much of it as I could manage - I picked up the full run through from where I had left off. There was something comforting in this. The feeling of being overwhelmed at having missed several days of reviews left me. Even though I knew this would take some time, I would still be revisiting past days with less than the month-long gap my established method involved, so could stop worrying that images would fade away in the time it took for me to reach them.

The advantage of a sequential run through is many of the images for consecuitve days are linked. I put to one side any days that did not immediately come to mind and went back to them later. After four days I had gone through the 1000+ days since I began this process without losing a single memory tag.

As I passed the day of the month I would have been reviewing in my normal method, it gave me a boost to see I could soon switch back to it.

It did occur to me that a sequential review could become my new refresh technique. Instead of a day-per-month review, I could review say four consecutive months per day. In my present technique the same day comes around about every 30 days. Covering four months per day would give enable me to review 10 years of memory tags before the time between reviewing the same day hits 30 days.

I am not switching to this method just yet for a simple reason. Reviewing sequential days put me into that time period. I was reliving the past.

The day-per-month review is very different. It gives me perspective over time and links today to past days. That feels much more healthy.

Even so, I now have a memory reboot method should I need it.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


My system for remembering every day that passes suffered total collapse last week. I was drawing blanks for almost the whole of the last month and felt bereft. It was as if a balloon had become deflated and I could not pump it up again.

It happened because I spent five intense days working. I had little sleep and had too much to do. I struggled to conduct my usual six-month review in the morning. The longer review process covering the memory tags going back to 2011 went neglected. I was faced with recalling not just one day per month, but then two, three and four just to keep up.

Everything is back on track again now. Tomorrow I'll explain the method I used for a memory reboot covering the longer period.

The more immediate past, usually so familiar, had become a foreign country. A change of scene or situation does give me a new perspective on past days, but this experience made them seem so alien I could barely grasp them.

The solution was perseverance. I had to put aside feelings of panic as day after day of my mental calendar hissed with the white static of forgotten. There were a few days with images and slowly these triggered associations. All the techniques I have developed to recover lost memories came into play and after four days of struggle during spare moments (I have still been very busy), the tags were back.

The memory reboot method I was using for the longer timespan, which I will explain tomorrow, no doubt also helped bring my memory muscles back into shape.

The deflated balloon of my memory began to inflate. In fact, it felt more like inflating an airbed with a foot pump, so slowly did it unfold itself and return to shape. Images that troubled me as incomplete gained their missing aspects and another crinkle popped away.

For a moment, when the immediate month just passed was a mess of missing and confused images, I thought this process had come to its natural end.

This morning I have done my usual six-month run through and all is well again.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Putting two things together

For a long time I've felt something was missing from my memory tag for 4 August 2013.

I remembered calling a good friend from temporary accommodation I had rented to be close to work and adopted that as the image pinned to my mental calendar. The 4th August comes up in the reviews on the 4th of every month and so this is the image I have refreshed, but for several months it has felt like a bit of a cheat.

On the run through yesterday, being 5 September, I recalled receiving news about a cousin on 5 January 2013. But it was not the news of his son attending college. That I had learned on another day directly from my cousin. I decided to make a point of creating an acronym to record where and what he was studying.

Suddenly I realised this nugget of information had been lost to me and that was because it had detached from my mental calendar: it was the missing memory tag from 4 August. I had stopped off to have lunch with my cousin on my journey.

It is now fixed back firmly in place, giving a sense of completion to my calendar once more.