Bipolar and Memory Loss and the Depressive Side

So I’m on the depression side of manic depression. It’s not so much of a shock considering the mixed episode is the crash. I was reading my journal and I wrote an entry whislt manic about becoming a famous artist. Well, if that doesn’t count as delusional I don’t know what does. I remember thinking that as I read it but my memory is always poor especially when depressed. When manic I’m too focused on myself to be able to take in the information I need to remember so that’s not memory issues, it’s just not encoding the memories. Depression I listen and take on board what people are saying, I just forget it. So of course, I googled and this is what I found:

Memory Loss and Bipolar Disorder

Memory problems in bipolar disorder typically have been considered a side effect of the manic highs and depressive lows of the condition:

  • Mania. Some studies have shown that memory and cognition problems are at their worst during manic episodes. Patients operating at high speeds due to mania have a hard time encoding new information into their memories and also show difficulty accessing memories.
  • Depression. Other research has revealed that depressive phases also can create problems with memory. “When your mind is preoccupied with negative thoughts about yourself, your world, your future, you aren’t as able to concentrate and [be] in the moment,” says Michael Thase, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia. “If your mind is occupied at one level, there’s less capacity to pay attention and encode and store information.”
  • More recent research has found that bipolar patients who are between mood swings also have memory problems and other cognitive deficits. That has lead some doctors to question whether mood swings are the real reason patients endure memory loss issues. Other possible explanations include:
    • Differences in brain chemistry and function related to bipolar disorder. “It may be that depression causes memory troubles both in a mental way — by occupying your mind — and also in a neurobiological way by inhibiting the connectivity between nerve cells,” Dr. Thase says.


I’m not really looking forward to depression, which I know is the most obvious statement I could make. But it’s awful, it’s so debilitating. I literally can’t stand it. I have two more weeks left at school before blessed half term comes but it just seems so long away. I know, I moan a lot about school. But let’s put yourself in my shoes.

You hardly slept the night before, you awake, you’re still depressed. Instead of being able to cohearse yourself out of bed with such scary thoughts like “if you don’t get up and brush your teeth, they’ll fall out” or “if you don’t get up and go to the bathroom, you’ll wet the bed” – it’s essentially just a scare tactic and a damn argument. But on school days there isn’t that chance. Like today, I fell asleep around 1am, woke around 4am and didn’t get up until around 11am. Even then I was only up for about 20mins, brushing my teeth etc before I go back to bed. But back to where I was. On school days, you’re awake on average two hours until your dad comes in and says “GET OUT OF BED! IT’S 7AM!” But you both know you’re not getting out until 7:30am, the maximum time you can get out of bed and still be on time for school. Then you’re in the car and it’s essentially a funeral procession except not all the cars in black. But with the way you feel it might as well be. Your stomach feels like it’s trying to drive itself up through you, that’s the anxiety. You feel like running away. You contemplate the idea of jumping out a moving car because it seems like such a better prospect than being at school. But you chicken out because you look at the two in the front and think that they’d prefer a better reason for your untimely death than avoiding school. Though really it’s hell in disguise. You get to school, on time for you but late for your brother. If it’s a Tuesday, you purposefully make yourself late just so the creepy teacher that everyone knows creeps you out but still insist on mocking you about can leave, so you can avoid social interaction. If it’s not, you wait until everyone has walked past your car and made sure that’s there’s at least 2 minutes between you and the next person. All this and you’re not even in Hell yet.

You walk through the carpark, you walk through the library because it’s icy and let’s face it if you go in through the main building you have the horrible reality of bumping into someone you know or getting caught in a crowd. You walk into the little building containing your form room and there is a teacher (who I swear is pregnant) and another teacher who is adopting her bitchy attitude because it seems only your form tutor is training her. One of the two will ask why you’re late and at this moment in time it’s pretty fucking obvious it’s the snow and ice and so you sit there wondering how the hell they got to be teacher considering that severe lack in common sense, I know they’re PE teachers but still. Your friend asks you if your okay because you look like you’d rather be putting mouse traps in all your orifaces than be sitting there, so you smile and tell her you’re fine even though your wondering whether jumping from only a high two storey building would be sufficent enough to kill you. You get out your phone and hope someone has messaged or texted you just so you have a good enough reason to stay out of any conversation. You get dismissed from class and you wait for your friend to hurry the hell up because as much you will hate your first class you don’t want to be late. *Decides I’ll talk about a Monday*.

Your first lesson is a double. Double English. You like writing but you don’t like what we’re doing because it’s repetitve and boring and isn’t engaging enough so you wander into your own little dream world which is when your depressed full of self hate, depressing thoughts and flashbacks. If you haven’t flashbacked more then 10 times on a Monday double lesson of English, it’s a good freaking day. Breaktime comes and your thrown into crowds and so you control your breathing. You stay with a person who can be good or wind you up at the best of times so it’s a love-hate relationship. You don’t want to be alone in lessons because you’re stuck with your thoughts then.

Next is PE, you only take off your skirt and hide the non-white top your wearing behind the black jumper you were also wearing to hide the self harm scars. You do PE but you hate it because no one really wants to be your partner and you hate doing anything that is too vigrous because of your chest problems and hate the cold because it’s cold and can aggrivate your migraines. The RE, you find RE interesting and like it because it’s the only subject you’re not failing completely and utterly in but it’s a lot of talking so your alone with your thoughts. Then maths which you don’t understand and is made even harder by the fact your bipolar mind won’t let you do maths so you don’t and complain to said friend who annoys you that you hate it and if the teacher talks complain about how his voice is grinding and aggravates your migraines.

Then lunch where you also spend a lot of your time looking at your phone while listening to random stories and feeling guilty about the fact you’re spending a lot of time one on one and not with your other friend because she’s in a group of friends and you can’t tolerate a group. Then health, you sit there, take notes and occassionally catch a worried glance from SK (the good friend) as you hold your head, rub your eyes or look into the distance all the time wondering whether you can run out the door and into a car.

That’s school, on a good day in depression. It’s no wonder I equate it to hell.


4 thoughts on “Bipolar and Memory Loss and the Depressive Side

    • I’ve been getting it a lot with the change of weather. Also I think either my estrogen levels are dipping or I’m very stressed (or both) which as been asertained by other health problems so that can cause migraines too.

      Haha, like I said not planning to. It’s just that urge. The urge to do something drastic to avoid something you don’t want to do.


  1. On memory loss and depression ~ I have no idea actually about the memory loss. Especially as it relates to the mania. I do not know if one feeds the other. Hell, I don’t even know if all peope in depressed states even suffer from memory loss…I suspect not.

    However … when I was prey to depression…i guess I never really thought too much about it. I mean, I’d not do things … perhaps forget to do them…I don’t know. I think it was more like I didn’t care. No wait, I think I did care … but I didn’t … if that makes sense.

    I suspect too that what might be seen as memory loss was more … I was not paying attention. That and everything always seemed foggy.

    Perhaps there are some of those things going on? Or is it true memory loss?

    On school ~ I am not sure what to say … mostly to not give up on it. It sounds EXTREMELY hard for you. But if you stop … you will have to be with yourself only … and while that might seem safer … I am not sure that would be better. I cannot judge here … your situation and illness is very foreign to me I admit. Just … do not give up Munchkin. *hugs you*

    • I think with people with bipolar, it depends what you have to do and remember in your life to how noticable it is. If you work but you haven’t got a boss that is totally unreasonable and you forget to do something you just think “damn it. Oh well bring it in tomorrow” and the same with family “Damn was supposed to pick up some candy canes for the family, oh well I can get it next time your out”. But if you have a teacher yelling at you about forgetting things or a family member yelling at you for forgetting something you’re more likely to notice how common it is. If it’s not being pointed out to you, it’s not uncommon for people not connect the dots between bipolar and forgetfullness and then sometimes by the time they’ve noticed it they blame it on medication, age, stress.
      In both periods you hear what a person is saying but when manic you (well I) are [am] obsessed with yourself and will only remember things that fit into your own scale e.g. think you can become an artist remember everything about art ignore anything that impedes it. With depression, pay attention, can listen and answer a question but then forget the information. Forget where you put things. Where you’re supposed to go. I for example am continually forgetting my timetable and not in a “oh what lesson have we got next because I’ve forgot this one time” kind a way, it more you forget the day, you forget the lesson your supposed to be in and then if you get there and no ones in the classroom you panic because you don’t know where you’re supposed to be. It happens every week. But like I say, it depends on how desperate they are in a situation. Expect no ramifications, don’t notice the problem. Unfortuantely, I noticed my memory slipping as soon as it began. Names of the people I knew but didn’t see a lot escaped me, the classes, words that you can describe but can’t remember the name of, work (I mean the overall work not one fact) and I think a more common thing is that it’s in a persons mind but in depression their mind doesn’t work fast enough to retrieve it so the person stops trying to retrive it and instead panics about the ramifications of their forgetting or figure out a way to get around it.
      It’s a real thing. A lot of people experience it. It’s to do with medications and nerve cells and things like that.

      You’re right to be honest for other people being on my own is safer because then I don’t take out my problems on them. Thank you for the kind words, I much appreciate it.


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