One of the most frustrating aspects of my mental health (and trust me there are many) is the patchy, almost corroded, nature of my memory.

I have for example little to no direct memory of my early childhood – prior to say age 8 or so, and indeed extremely limited memory of times since then. Even times as recently as a year or so ago.

Additionally even where some memories do exist or remain accessible, the timeline surrounding said memories seems corrupted, faded, muddled or absent. I could therefore no more tell you if the last time I was in hospital was four months ago, eight months ago or even a year and eight months ago for example.

In my opening sentence within this post I make mention of an “almost corroded” nature of my memory and I say almost corroded because it seems that certainly there are some memories that are there but I don’t seem able to easily access them and indeed even with photographic or testimonial references or evidence of their existence and thus my participation within the event creating said memories, I find myself looking at said photos as if I were looking at some complete stranger and I find myself largely unable to connect to the memory, the photo (or testimonial) or indeed the event itself.

I wonder if you can imagine just how deeply disturbing and impacting such a thing is? Try this, if you will. Think of the person you are most in love with or closest too on an emotional level. Consider your relationship with that person if you will. What makes them so special to you? What attracts and indeed initially attracted you to them? What special events or moments or circumstances do you and have you shared together? What moments can you reference when thinking of your love for them?

The poem entitled “love” credited to have been written by Roy Crofts opens with the lines…

“I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.”

In these lines there are clear sentiments of admiration, respect, affection/love but also an affirmation of a journey indeed a progression that the two (the author and the lover) share together…

We have a foundation a starting point –

“I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.”

The lines then talk of a journey both taken and being taken –

“I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me.”

We can picture it through the author’s words and sentiments can’t we? Each moment leads to another and in so doing reinforces and enhances the affection/love, respect and admiration that the author feels for his lover. But what, I ask, would be the result if the author simply lost all memory of the previous moments he had shared with his lover?

Those lines, I would suggest would be reduced in number and thus in sentiment and sadly in beauty also…

“I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.”

Still beautiful admittedly but as beautiful without the journey and the memory of the journey they have already shared? I would suggest not.

And that is where I find myself through this aspect of the mental health challenges that I face. I appear to have lost so much of my journey thus far. Like an Alzheimer sufferer I have lost great chunks of where I have been and what I have experienced and I say that not to disrespect the difficulties that Alzheimer sufferers and their loved one’s experience or to over-dramatize what I experience but to simply to verbalize some of the frustrations that I feel. I say it also to explain perhaps in part some of the
causality behind where I am today.

I feel so lost, so confused, so disconnected and I feel this not only in the psychological but also in the physical and even more sadly in the spiritual. After all, as a Christian am I not a child of God? Am I not part of the bride of Christ – in the biblical and not particularly RC sense? Have not I already experienced a 26 year relationship with Christ since finding faith all those years ago? So where have those 26 years gone? Where are all the memories on which I too can progress that faith, that relationship, that respect, admiration, appreciation, affection and love?

The mind is a wonderful thing but it needs exercise and usage and even then there are no guarantees it will remain intact. I find I am losing mine more and more. I yearn for the memories I have lost and all that they mean and no greater a yearning in all of this is to remember my Christ and all He has done for me.

See here is the wonderful and yet painful truth of it all. I may not be able to recall most of what He has done but my knowledge of His word convinces me that He has indeed done it.

There is a famous Christian piece called Footprints or Footprints in the sand in which a man looks back over his life and sees two steps of footsteps in the sand where he and the Lord have walked together. Every now and then those two sets of footprints become one and the man wonders why the Lord left him during those times. The Lord explains to him that on the occasions where only one set of footprints show they were not times when He had left him but instead were times when He (the Lord) had carried him.

It is a beautiful story with much truth, Sadly as I look back along the sand of my life I see very few footprints as the tide of poor mental health has washed them away.