Q: Short Term Memory Loss during Conversations & also Interrupting People|
I have a problem with short term memory loss during conversations. I have to
ask what was being said or what did I just say. I also have a problem with
interrupting people during a conversation. In my mind I don't think I do it on
purpose to hurt anyone and yet, I do. It has gotten real bad and it is
affecting my relationships; especially with my son.
I was told by a psychiatrist once that it had to do with the bi-polar and the
nerve impulses and thoughts. Do you know if this is true and what I can do
about it. I try and try and even before talking to someone tell myself to not
interrupt or to keep my mouth shut during conversations that go on around me.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Dear Donna --
That's a pretty complicated one.
Without talking with you directly, it would be
hard to be sure what is going on here. But I can offer you some general
principles, at least two ideas.
1. One of the reasons for your "memory loss" in
conversations could be that your mind is not really attending to what is being
said. Your mind is off doing something else, perhaps focusing on some idea you
are really interested in, which you will blurt out, interrupting others. In
other words, it isn't exactly a memory loss. You weren't "there" in the first
place to make a memory and then lose it; you never made it, because you were
doing something else, mentally, at the time. At least that is one possibility.
That's important, because such a phenomenon can indeed
be seen in bipolar disorder. It is referred to as "distractibility". It is
related to "flight of ideas", where a person's mind is going faster than
others', often in many directions at once. The importance is this: the problem
should go away when the bipolar symptoms are fully controlled. So in this
scenario, you would want to look for other bipolar symptoms occurring at the
same time, to support the idea that this problem is "bipolar" in origin. In
other words, if there are no other mood symptoms going on, but you are having
this problem in conversation, that would make it less likely that the problem is
"bipolar" in origin.
Obviously, if you can find evidence to suggest that the
problem is part of the bipolar disorder, then the solution is to target the
bipolar disorder itself: better mood control should lead to better "conversation
2. The second consideration that is going to arise
sooner or later is "attention deficit disorder". Interrupting conversations
with impulsive comments, and being so distractible you can't focus on what other
people are saying, could be part of "ADD". This condition travels hand in hand
with bipolar disorder more frequently than you would expect based on the
frequency of the two conditions by themselves. In other words, they are
related, somehow. We don't know exactly how.
And when that comes up, someone is going to wonder
about giving you a treatment for ADD. Unfortunately, some people worry that the
stimulants used for this treatment can make bipolar disorder worse.
Surprisingly, given that street stimulants definitely make bipolar disorder
worse, pharmaceutical stimulants actually don't seem to make bipolar disorder
worse very often. Some people don't worry about it really at all. Other people
(here is an example:
Ghaemi) worry about it a lot.
Good luck getting that figured out.
Published January, 2009