I’ve been known to always have a bad memory, I’m only 17 but even my long term memory isn’t quite up to par per se. My step-father will always mention vacations and stuff we wen’t on when I was like 11 or 12, only 5 years ago and a lot of the times I have no idea what he’s talking about, and think he’s the one who is recalling incorrectly until there’s a picture of me at the beach. It’s weird because we weren’t a family who goes on vacation frequently, so it was still a special and emotionally significant event, but yet there’s a few vacations I have no recollection of.
I have issues with names, and am very likely to call someone the wrong name or and altered version of their name. Sometimes it’s bothered some people and some people have been okay with it, I also have a tendency to essentially rename some of my peers, like I almost always call someone I know by Zoey instead of Zoe, and the person doesn’t like being called Zoey, but at this point the usually just accept it because it’s not really my intent to misname someone but also, recalling that slight variation in someone’s name is actually mentally exhausting and it’s hard to explain to other people.
I’m also dyslexic besides having ADHD, and head trauma induced brain damage at birth but unknown to what extent and really what region of the brain, so those complications may effect my memory issues. More likely the dyslexia, especially with names, and trying to recall something for a test, etc.
My short term memory tends to be awful, especially when un-medicated, when I go periods cold turkey without medication, for me currently being Dexedrine (Dextro-amphetamine salt), I lose things constantly, but that type of I just lost something, that I know was just in my hand, but I also don’t know what I lost, but I know its important and I needed that thing for something, and it was just in my hand, but I don’t know where it went, how it got there, or what I’m even looking for until I spend 1 hour looking for it, in a small room, then by the time I find it, I probably forget why I needed it. As well as losing stuff that’s literally in my hand. Which sometimes for short-term memory I use very low dose nicotine gum (2-4 mg), mind you this is very infrequent, for the past few years I have 40 pieces, and still have yet to finish the 1st box of 20, I also don’t smoke or vape, I have essentially no nicotine tolerance so I don’t know how this apply if one smokes or vapes and it’s also worth noting, that nicotine’s pharmacology can change significantly at slightly different dosages, thus completely altering psychoactive effects at slightly different dosages.
I also find it very useful as a behavioral intervention, to carry a thing of different colored sticky notes and a sharpie, I find that with or without medication, I tend to rely on sticky notes for my short-term memory, I write down everything when I feel I’m getting mentally burnt out, or have to recall different things not pertaining to each other, such as maybe making a schedule, or I’m writing a biology essay and just thought of an idea for my history project, using sticky notes really allows me to side track for a few seconds, utilize that few seconds efficently for the benefit of another area of my life, such as a reminder for a good project idea in another class, and then put it in my pocket or on a screen, or paper, then go right back to my biology essay without forgetting my points, topics or w.e.
Where as I would usually be held mentally hostage by my short term memory, or more so my lack of short-term memory and try and force my self to ignore the idea, which ensures I’ll forget it, or think about it, potentially get distracted, or forget my Bio essay’s line of reasoning, or just forget everything to the point my brain blanks and I get stressed because the effort of trying not to get distracted, and think about history as I do a Bio essay, exhausted my brain and it kinda just like short circuits, and I forget everything about both things.
Also still talking about short term memory, it’s worth noting considering many people with ADHD self medicate with this drug, and a main reason for it being for short-term memory, is that caffeine, is really not an efficient drug for short term memory, not really even as a piggy back on top of medication. Caffeine can actually impair and further disrupt your short-term memory, not only that the mechanism of action in which caffeine has, indirectly effects any symptom of ADHD, through whats refereed to as the “halo effect”, so while caffeine does have psychoactive stimulatory effects, they’re very weak, and uncontrolled, so for just about all things ADHD wise, caffeine is not a drug you should really consume period. With the exception of rarely using it, later in the day to stay awake if you really need to stay up for a deadline, but this should be late in the day and when needed. But caffeine’s effect direct disruption on your circadian rhythm (via being an adenosine antagonist), as well as diuretic, cardiovascular toxicity, oxidative brain damage, is not by any means worth it’s minimalist effect on any ADHD symptom, as well as using it to wake up in the morning. Caffeine lacks functional stimulant properties to actually wake someone up in a way that something like stimulant medication would, caffeine doesn’t really stimulate you like that, it staves off adenosine induced sleepiness and fatigue.
Something else worth mention, back on topic again, is that in terms of my memory, I have an occasionally episodic memory for completely random things, that I have zero idea of why I recall it in perfect detail. I’m not referring to a flashbulb memory or flashback etc. But memories that seem to have no correlation of why I recall them perfectly, and no emotional significance to them either, most of the time these are not really like “memories”. As in they’re usually not a recollection of a specific experience, but more so just perfect images of something, an example would be, In a storage room in my basement, my mom was looking for a old game my stepdad mentioned and she had no recollection of it, now mind you I had not been in that storage room since I was about 10, it was a game I had never played, heard of, or seen anyone play it, I just saw the cover on the floor once as a child. For whatever reason when she mentioned the game was an airplane game, I saw in about perfect detail the cover of the game, and where it was in the basement, the colors of the cover, spacing of the wording, the type of jet on the cover, the type of game it was, not to mention she was mind blown because, well once again, I have a notoriously bad memory and I couldn’t fully explain it because I’m not even fully sure why or how it happens, I just know it does, it also happens to things such as, like a piece of a school paper from 4 years ago, randomly in a unorganized clutter of stacks of paper in my room, I can randomly know exactly where it is and what it is for no apparent reason.
I do also have an uncle with ADHD who had just about a completely episodic memory, he was incredibly talented and had scholarships, but he kinda squandered it by making not the best choices, nonetheless I don’t think my sporadic episodic memory bursts, are in anyway close to how his memory works but I wonder if they could be slightly correlated and why.
Recalling things in colors or certain fonts can help a lot, don’t know if its due to my dyslexia or not but it helps.
Also making an actual like memory of something can help a lot, it may over complicate things to study something and try to relate it to a made up story that you like rehearse, but it can really help you focus and recall if you make it interesting.
I apologize in advance for the lack of organization, flow, poor grammar, side tracking/confusing line of reasoning. Organization was never my strong suit.