Lost keys, forgotten bills, and missing wallets – these are the things most people forget. Of course, it’s common to forget something, and it happens every day. After all, with all the day’s hustle and bustle, you’re bound to forget something.
But it’s not the same with me. I don’t just lose my keys or wallet; I also forget to pay my bills. The worse thing, however, is constantly losing my car in a car park. It always used to happen, but not anymore. All thanks to the simple strategies I employed in life.
Forgetting Things is My Normal
Forgetting comes with age. For my case, though, it’s not age that makes me quickly forget, but a brain trauma I suffered when I was a teen. I’m fine now, but my injury back then was severe enough that I died three times and was left in a coma for three weeks. In the end, I woke up, but my life has never been the same since.
My prognosis was life in a vegetative state
The doctors provided their prognosis – that I would be living life in a vegetative state. The injury my brain suffered was so serious that my whole body was unresponsive to external stimulation. But I was still lucky enough that I wasn’t brain dead and had just enough faculties to understand my situation.
However, I didn’t wallow in my despair for long. I didn’t collapse and just accept my fate. No, I stubbornly wanted to prove my doctors wrong. I may have had brain trauma, but I was hard-headed enough not to settle for a life confined in bed. I worked so hard to make that happen, and I did.
I recovered and have created a ‘new me;
It was hard work, but I was able to heal from my injury. I was eventually able to walk, talk, and do the simple things I used to do again. They said that I wouldn’t finish high school and get into university, but I did. I earned my degree, and now, I’m proud of my success. I didn’t just finish school, but I also became a rehabilitation counsellor and a best-selling author.
So, I was able to live my life as normally as possible. However, there is one thing that the injury left me with – a broken memory. As a result, I can no longer rely on my memory. Things will often slip my mind, and that was the biggest hurdle in all of my goals. I thought hard about how I could overcome this, and the answer I came up with was the use of memory strategies.
Memory Strategies That Helped Me
The damage to my brain is permanent. It will never heal, and I won’t ever get back my ability to remember things fully. Without conscious effort on my part, I would always forget where I parked my car. I would always lose things and fail to pay my bills. But with the memory strategies that I use, I was able to take back control.
I’m incredibly organized
Before the accident, I was never organized. But I realize now how important it is, and it has helped me keep track of everything. It is by being organized that I can be sure of not forgetting anything. Unfortunately, I couldn’t rely on my memory anymore for essential things like paying the bills. But adding these things to my RETIINK memory management app has helped me tremendously.
It is my memory management app and calendar that really take control of my life. Over 33 years since my accident, I was able to create my own memory management app. Besides my organizers, this app helps me in making sure I don’t forget anything. It also allows me to keep track of everything I need to do.
What makes this great is that I can use it on my phone or wherever I am. It also benefits those who need someone to assist them. For example, by inviting that person to the app, they can access the user’s schedules and tasks. So, this app simplifies things for me, sends notifications for each activity, and serves as a great motivation by showing me my achievements.
I always plan my days
One of the effects of my brain injury is that I always get neuro fatigue. When I’m taking on too much, I get tired a lot. Even when I’m not doing many things, neuro fatigue just happens with an injury like mine. In order to avoid this, I always plan my days ahead. Before the next day, I will organize and plan what I’ll be doing when morning comes.
This way, I can do my cognitive tasks in the morning and my creative tasks in the afternoon. By planning my days, I can maximize my day and do more things despite my ailing brain. Even without brain injury, having proper downtime is essential to re-energize tired neurons.
I use various brain tricks
There’s only so much that being organized and planning my days can do for me not to forget. To boost their benefits, I also use a lot of brain tricks. I especially find simple strategies to help me remember more. For instance, I use mnemonics and create acronyms out of lists and things I have to do to make it easier to remember them. When it comes to car parks, and finding my car, I frequently use story mnemonics. This can be fun, because the crazier and more ridiculous the story, the better you will remember it! Imagine you are parked in Car Park 2B in the red zone of a car park. Your crazy story to remember this could be, ‘I need 2B home by dark so I can paint the fridge red, paint the town red or your hair red……you get the concept.
If you are too tired to give your brain the great work out that story mnemonics gives, you could just take a photo of the pole or wall that lists your car park number.
Besides mnemonics, meditation and gratitude journaling help me a lot as well. In fact, they’re great at helping me remember things more vividly. They also help me focus more and improve my self-awareness. Along with exercise (which is very good for brain health), these brain tricks have helped me plenty of times not to forget as much as I usually would.
As I slowly woke up from my coma, and began to gain awareness of my situation, I knew that my life would never be the same. My memory would be permanently impaired, and I’d be facing a lot of inconveniences. But I also knew that there were ways to work around these difficulties. Now, I’ve been using memory strategies for such a long time that they have become an essential and integral part of my life.
Keep an eye out for my Change your Brain, Transform your Life, 12 week brain training program coming soon! Make sure you subscribe to my website: https://holdingontohope.com.au to keep up to date with the latest news!
Wishing you the best brain health
Best-selling Author of Holding on to Hope, Finding the ‘New You’ after a Traumatic Brain Injury