Memories: True or False?

Discussion in 'Rape and Abuse' started by mytime, Jul 26, 2013.

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  1. mytime

    mytime Active Member

    Hi All

    I wonder if anyone can help me with a concern I have about some memories. As a preamble I'm very aware that memory is a tricky thing. It's clear that we can create memories of things that never happened. I'm not so sure of the evidence for it but it also seems like we can not remember traumatic things that did happen. Certainly, there are very bad things I know have happened to that I don't remember well. But I'm in doubt about them having happened.

    A bit of brief background about me: I suffer from "treatment resistant clinical depression". I've been hospitalised four times after suicide attempts (I'm either incompetent or have a very overworked guardian angel). I have good periods, sometimes for weeks, but most of my life for the past ten years or so I've wanted to die. I resist because I have a family and I know what it would do to them. This is despite having a fantastic life (good job, well paid, loving family, I make friends easily ...). I did have home "issues" growing up. Some were pretty serious. Not "A Boy named It" stuff but deeply damaging for a child. It seemed like all that was behind me until work stress trigged my first bad bout of depression. I've made a lot of good progress over the past 2 years with a great therapist and I seem to be on a medication regime (7 medications) which is help al be it with some difficult side effects.

    My problem is, a few months ago I had a nightmare. It was very different from most I've had because it was very short, extremely graphic and left me afraid well beyond its content (even though the content was unpleasant).
    <WARNING graphic sexual content follows> In my nightmare a man had his penis in my mouth. I could feel him partly choking me. I could taste him (the taste of his unwashed skin). I could smell his sweat. Then I woke up, _totally_ terrified, sweating, heart pounding etc. I realised, after I woke up, that in the dream I was a child: may 10 or so. After the dream, I remember that there was a place when I was about that age where I'd always been aware that something bad had happened and it seemed like this was that event. Over the next few of weeks I had a more dreams, not of that intensity. In the day time a more complete scenario of abuse "constructed itself" in my mind. I recalled some actual facts that would fit an abusive situation but not at all conclusive. My memory of some parts of what may have happened "feel" quite strong but others I'm even less sure about. But, I don't have a clear memory and I have absolutely no confidence that anything actually happened.

    I've tried to think, well it was a long time ago and I don't know that anything happened, and there's noting I can do about it. So maybe I should just move on. But, I keep coming back to it and it seems deeply important to me to know what, if anything happened. I don't know why it's important. I still feel distressed by the memory of the dream, especially for some reason, the memory of his taste.

    I have two questions. Does anyone know of any good, scientific, material about this kind of memory? Has anyone else experienced something like this and later found _evidence_ that clarified whether the memories were real? Do you think it matters? [oops sunk in a third one.]

    I haven't been able to tell anyone in RL this story (at least not in detail). I more or less told my psychologist. After I told her, I felt a deep sense of guilt that I'd done something very wrong in doing so and had a "bad period" for a couple of weeks after that.

    Any help would be gratefully appreciated.


    PS I don't "need" this to be real to understand why I struggle. There's plenty of other things that I defiantly remember.
  2. Butterfly

    Butterfly Sim Addict Staff Alumni SF Author SF Supporter

    Hi mytime,

    I'm sorry to hear about your struggles and your past history of abuse. Dreams and nightmares can manifest themselves to resemble events similar to those that have happened in the past, but they can be completely different and not make a lot of sense although terrifying. They say that dreams and nightmares are a symbol of our subconscious mind, and their meanings differ completely than how they manifest themselves.

    It sounds like because of the trauma you have been through in the past, you managed to dissociate yourself from the situation so although you were there and something clearly happened, you were absent in mind. The memories can be buried deep inside your subconscious and abuse and dissociative episodes need to be addressed by a therapist. You can continue to have dissociative episodes even if abuse has not occurred for many years because it is a coping mechanism to get away from stressful situations.

    It doesn't tend to bode very well if you keep on dwelling about what happened, what might have happened because in the end you will drive yourself crazy. Your best bet is to discuss this with your therapist. It sounds like something in your past is ready to be addressed, but you need to do it safely with professional help.

    I hope this has helped some, good luck in your recovery, it sounds like you are doing incredibly well (even though it may not feel like it at times) :hug:
  3. Mayflower7

    Mayflower7 Banned Member

    Hi Mytime,
    Many children/adults do block out extremely traumatic events, some remember some don't. Often you will have other signs that sexual abuse happened, but this occurs with other types of abuse as well. Dreams are strange, nightmares sometimes happen with abuse. You are safe, and you do not need to have a reason to have any difficulties. Life is hard and depression etc is very common.
    Don't feel bad for discussing it with your therapist, you were not to blame either way.
    I didn't have clear memories, I still don't. But I have every symptom of sexual abuse/rape. I was drugged, so my story is different.
    Take care I wish you well with your recovery.
  4. mytime

    mytime Active Member

    Thanks Kate.
    I wonder, do you wish you could remember or are you pleased you don't have to?
    (No need to answer if it's painful).
    I feel like I really want to remember and know what happened for sure but why? Perhaps it best not to.

  5. mytime

    mytime Active Member

    Hi FlutterBy :)

    Thanks for your encouragement in info. I am pretty prone to dissociation, even today so what you say makes sense. It's never worried me, as you say it helps with painful times. It does seem to concern my therapist but we haven't talked through exactly why yet.

    I noticed your mood status is "down". I hope that passes soon and there's some colour soon ...

    Thanks for your help

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