Memory Recall/retention


So my biggest issue has always been my memory. My meds have improved my working memory tenfold, meaning I can actually write an email at work now without forgetting what I’m supposed to be doing every 20 seconds because my thoughts have distracted me.

However, I still have an awful memory for names, places, dates etc. And when I say awful, I mean none. I cannot ever remember those things unless they are burned into my brain by habit. My colleagues at work can all recall information really quickly, so if I ask them about a case, it only takes them a second to remember it. But they expect me to do the same and I just can’t.

Is that even a symptom of adhd? Before my diagnosis I used to worry that I had actual neurological memory loss. But the meds have helped my short-short-term working memory, so shouldn’t they also help me remember who I spoke to on the phone 5 minutes ago?

I really feel like a failure when I’m asked about things at work and I have to tell them to wait 5 minutes for me to look in my file to know what they’re talking about, when it seems like really simple information that they all seem to remember.


I couldn’t help but laugh when I read this because I’ve just been playing the game ‘matching pairs’ with my 8 year old daughter who beat me every time because I couldn’t even remember the last card I picked up let alone any of the others, but I know how frustrating having a bad memory can be, I struggle really bad with it too.


Oh man, I feel you there. Looking for an answer myself.


Not as serious as your issue.But happens some times mostly with names,numbers and trivial things.I found most of my peers(normal) has great short term memmory but comparable long term memmory.When I did programming I would forget syntax,but my logic and solution would be better than others,so much so that I myself changed from being a programmer.
I remember trying as a waiter at my uncle’s restaurant ,I would mix up orders or have a doubt.I found my memmory was not good at instant absorption and recall for the first time there.


I feel you! I hate it. My wife gives me hell all the time because of my memory. She always says I remember what I want to remember…not true there’s slot of things I wish I remembered…but I don’t remember what I wished I remembered lol… Vicious cycle.
Definitely not alone on that. I’ve tried the memory enhance pills…yeah no…lol no luck on that angle… All I can do is write it what I want to remember. If I write it there’s a 25 percent I won’t forget it.
Good luck!


My memory is rubbish too, annoyingly much so, but I’ve found certain ways to help myself remember things.

For me, the key is to make memory rules for things I want to/need to remember. Such as names for example. When I meet someone new, I usually repeat their name when they’ve said it, to confirm I got it right, and didn’t space out when they said it. I then try to make a mental connection to something their name reminds me of, to help me trigger that memory. Easier to recall stuff you already have in long-term memory.

So say someone’s name is Dean for example, I automatically connect that name to a song called Dean Town, and associating this face to that song makes it easier to remember. Or the actor James Dean, or anyone else you might now with a name related to Dean. You get the point.

Similarly for years, I try to find triggers/logic in the numbers that make it easier to remember. I’ll always remember when the French revolution was cause the numbers are cascading (1789).
Or I’m currently studying Edinburgh’s history cause I’m training to be a tour guide, and to help remember when the South Bridge was built, I remember it was 200 years before my brother was born (1785), stuff like that haha.

I recently realised that I only really remember things that I understand. (Although I do remember lots of random trivia too…)
But generally, I use logic to remember things, rather than directly tapping into my “memory bank”. I can remember concepts and big picture stuff, but in order to remember the nitty gritty details, I often have to get there by thinking the logic through. Which can take a wee while longer…

…did that make sense? :smiley:


That last bit makes so much sense, I do it to! Never really thought about it!

When I went through university (undiagnosed and unmedicated), I had to use mnemonics for EVERYTHING. When I was learning French and I had to remember certain vocab I would draw pictures. For example, we were learning the words for the death penalty (I know, cheerful right?) and I had to learn the word ‘executioner’, which is ‘bourreau’. Well, I already knew the word ‘bureau’, which means office. So, I drew a little picture of the grim reaper sitting at an office desk.

For anthropology at university, I had to remember that Van Gennep theorised there were 3 stages of rites of passage, so I drew a slightly more elabourate doodle of a van divided into three sections and coloured like neopolitan ice cream, and each colour somehow related to one of the stages… it was complex but it really helped me remember.

Can’t do that for everything though :joy:


I am reading a book called “Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything” by Joshua Foer. The writer, a journalist, put these techniques to work and even won the US Memory Championship! An absolutely fascinating book. The idea seems to be to associate facts with locations and crazy imagery. For instance, when remembering a sequence of facts, associate them with a path through some familiar place and make a story. For us the harder issue may be to form a habit to do this. But I am very interested in knowing if these techniques help folks with ADHD.


I’ve read or been told this, too, but for me this sort of thing is just adding more stuff going on in my head that my brain then will wander off on instead. It works fine for coming up with new nutty ideas, not at all for remembering what’s going on or what I need to do.

For me the only thing that sorta helps is writing things down. The act of writing it down helps a little and sometimes (just sometimes) I’m able to find my notes again and make sense of them.

When I have 1:1’s at work I’ll make bullet points as the meeting goes so 1) I don’t have to interrupt all the time before I forget and 2) I will remember to cover anything that comes up through the conversation before the meeting is over. I try to make separate lists for “need to talk about right now” and “follow-up later”; the follow-up later items then go into my general work to-do list (which I may or may not remember to refer back to later or be able to make sense of later). Much of my work is relatively transactional (“figure out / decide XYZ now and you are done”) so this works okay. Longer-term planning or tasks of any kind is more hit and miss unless I get support / reminders / squeaky wheels from others.

At home the only thing that maybe works is when I right away can convert something I need to remember into an actionable task that can go on my todo list with a date. Anything more vague or abstract just goes into the general pile of stuff in my brain (and not always as close to the top of the pile as it should be …). Basically everything is “right now or bust”.

Taking my meds change the scope of things I can figure out to deal with right now, but it doesn’t help on the longer term memory, planning, etc.