Global Transient Amnesia – or How I Literally Lost My Mind


Hi Everyone,

This is my cautionary tale about taking on too much, ignoring your body and setting limitations on yourself even though you don’t want to. It is also one of the reasons I have not written in so long.

It has been a very long 2 years. When my Mother-in-law passed, there were many stressful events that occurred after her death. It is amazing to see the power that one individual has within a family. She was the glue that kept us all together and quite frankly the glue that kept me together.

She always had a supportive thing to say to me. Never, did she doubt my pain or my illness. Something I didn’t realize how much I needed. It is amazing what small comments like “Oh, you are doing such a good job”, “I am so proud of you” and the simple “I love you”.

My inlaws lived about 2 hours away from us. After she died,  I was shuffling off from one house to the other, trying to manage my kids, my husband, my health and their estate. As I was the only one who didn’t have a full time “job” and there are no daughters, many of the responsibilities fell to me. In all honesty, I took those reponsibilities on wholeheartedly as my mother in law was more like my mother. I had made her promises and I intended on keeping them. It was an honour to do them for her.

Slowly I could feel the damage to my body and my mind. It seemed no matter how many times I stated my limitations, it was not fully understood. I look fine…right? I mean pain is invisible and we know as Painies we can push ourselves when we have to, knowing full well that there would be a price to pay. There was.

In July of 2013 I was taking care of my inlaws’ property. I was alone in the country house, save that of my dog. I phoned my husband to say I was going to take a nap. Next thing I knew…a police officer was asking me to breath into a breathalizer machine. I stated I didn’t drink…she was not believing me….I sort of realized that I was in my car. I did the test and it was negative.

I was aware of an audience applauding when I took the test and the cops sympathetic and caring response. I am being completely sarcastic.

When the test came up Zero. Her shoulders sank – like she was disappointed. “That can’t be right, she looks drunk.” Now most police officers should realize that I was in some sort of mental distress, but no, she wasn’t having it.  Wow, I mean, there was absolutely no concern, just anger from her. That I do remember.

Next thing I knew I was in a hospital – didn’t know where, what time it was. I knew I should know what day it was, but for the life of me I couldn’t. I was scared and alone. The cop, kept drilling me:

“What did you do this morning”

“I don’t know – I made breakfast – was in Wellington”

“That isn’t what you said earlier” -cop

“Well, I don’t remember what I said earlier. I don’t remember….where is my t.v??” – Me

She was scaring the crap out of me, because she was looking at me like she wanted to arrest me. There was absolutely no sympathy from this blonde young female police officer of Prince Edward County. The male officers were much kinder. I was taken to the Psychiatric floor of the local hospital for a 24 hour hold. I knew I had kids and was afraid that she was going to take them away. Keep in mind, I did not know what was going on. I just knew it wasn’t good, that I was in trouble, I was alone, I couldn’t remember the date, year or time. It was terrifying and this police officer was making it so much worse.

I will give a ton of credit to my brother-in-law. He arrived at some point, don’t know when. He calmed me when I kept asking where my TV was and he kept the bad police officer away from me. My husband was beside himself. He got a call, saying his wife had been taken into custody for driving under the influence – his response “My wife doesn’t drink”. Poor thing – like he doesn’t have enough to deal with.

Upon my return to my own home, I was referred to a Neurologist. He determined, that due to my pain, stress and overall worn out state of mind, I had Global Transient Amnesia. Basically, it means that you can forget a short period of time (less than 72 hours), because your mind just can’t take anymore. It just shuts down.

I have deep empathy for those with Alzheimers. It was only a short period of time for me, I cannot even imagine what it is like to live with this full time. It is horrible to feel so scared that you know you should know something, but you can’t remember it, and people are expecting you to know, but you just don’t and you can’t……

My word of warning to the Painie is this: please don’t push yourself. Recognize the signs of deep stress, pain and exhaustion. The outcome of my situation could have been so much worse. I could have killed or injured someone while driving that car.

For the family of the Painie: Be aware of your Painie patient. If they are showing signs of exhaustion, or they tell you they are burning out LISTEN. Take something off their plate. Provide some emotional support. I cannot even begin to tell you how much a simple “How are you doing. Really, how are you doing” or “Ok, you aren’t doing anything for the next 24 hours.”

Pain is invisible; but it creeps in to all parts of your body. The stress of pain alone, increases cortisol levels, then add a traumatic event and low and behold the perfect storm.

I am just so very grateful, that while driving on a highway, I did not hurt or kill someone else. That would have been something I don’t think I could live with. So, for those in Pain and those living with pain, the dangers can be more severe if you don’t take care.

Now that I have had some time to collect myself – I am back to writing – and I have to say that I have missed my fellow Paines quite a bit. I have quite a few article ideas and have spent enough time in solitude.

Write soon……

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2 thoughts on “Global Transient Amnesia – or How I Literally Lost My Mind

  1. Wow — Kathleen! What an incredibly scary experience. I’m glad you were rescued, finally understood.
    The female police officer needs training in compassion and recognizing a mental health crisis.
    Long story but tale weaver/ing is Phylor and Phylor’s Blog.
    Take good care.

    1. It was brutal….but I am glad to hear from you…..I hope you are doing ok? I like your new blog. How are you feeling?

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