Q: Experiencing "Missing
has been 4 years since my diagnosis of bipolar disorder type I. Late last year
I stopped taking my medications and was able to complete my internship to finish
my bachelor's degree. My memory has never been excellent, so I have to be an
avid note-taker. However, recent events have triggered something I've never
after my internship, I discovered that my husband was using methamphetamine and
having an affair. Upon my discovery, he immediately quit the drug, confessed
everything, and did everything in his power to tell me how sorry he was. All of
this was a very traumatic experience for me. We've been married for almost 11
years. It has been 3 months since I found out about his substance abuse and
infidelity. My problem now is that I have missing time. What I mean is that I
don't remember going places that I went or saying things that I said. For
example, my husband told me that we drove to the nearest city to buy a painting
at a particular store and ate at a particular restaurant where I didn't order
anything and began to cry. He said we had to leave the restaurant because I
couldn't stop crying. This trip to the city took place about 3 weeks ago and I
don't even remember going. This missing time has gotten as long as 3 to 4 days,
but sometimes it's only a few hours. My husband has noticed that while I'm
"missing time" my pupils become very dilated.
hospitalized about a month ago and I'm now taking Geodon and Lamictal. I was
having these memory problems before the meds and am still having them now.
is happening in my brain to cause me to forget? Is it related to PTSD? If so,
how? Why do my pupils dilate during the time that I later forget? Will I ever
stay in that state, not being able to come out of it? Do you know what I can do
to keep my mind healthy through all of this?
for the length of this. If you post it, you may shorten it. Just don't use my
Dear Jen --
This was going to be hard
enough to figure out, I was getting ready to offer an apology for not being of
much use. Then came the part about the pupil dilation. As you probably know,
the simple explanation would be to invoke the sympathetic nervous system, the
automatic control system of our body that mediates "fight or flight" responses.
Activation of this system can cause pupil dilation.
But that really doesn't
explain anything. It might be an indication that your body is doing some sort
of fear response. But that leaves open the question, "why?" And because other
medical conditions can cause pupil dilation, we should not necessarily a sound
that some sort of PTSD reaction is a basis for that. Unless some better
explanation emerges, this is probably worth seeing your doctor about: first,
just to make sure there is nothing else going on with your nervous system; and
second, to see if she or he might have some resources to recommend, such as a
psychotherapist to target possible PTSD.
Now for the apology: sorry not
to have anything more useful here. Good luck getting that figured out.
Published May, 2009