What? Don’t Remember That…

I think I’ve written a story about how migraines effect my memory before, but it’s driving me crazy, so I need to talk about it again.

Normally I have pretty good memory. I’m not saying it’s the best, but I know how to work with it so it can be above average. Which is why this drives me insane! I can’t tell you how many times migraines have taken memories from me! I mean, I probably don’t KNOW how many times it happened considering you don’t know that you forgot something until you’re in the situation where you need to remember it. So it’s very possible I forgot things that I wasn’t reminded about later or I forgot an instance where I forgot something.

It makes the migraine more stressful. The question of, “What memory will I lose this time? The knowing someone for three years, talking to them on a daily basis, then the day after a migraine asking, “What’s their name?” The constant worry someone will think you’re being rude because you don’t remember their name or worse, you don’t remember them! The constant worry of if you’re blowing something off because a migraine made you forget it.


There are a lot of symptoms to migraines that make the experience hell (including pain that I have yet to meet someone that thinks it’s that bad). However, no one talks about actual memory loss associated with it. Like straight up forgetting something and being like, “How could I forget?”

But there’s a reason for that. You CAN’T talk about that. People excuse it for regular forgetfulness and always try to push ideas on you. Get a planner to remember appointments. Try harder to remember names. Tell people you’re bad with names. But that’s not the point here. The point is I’m not normally that forgetful (under normal nonmigraine circumstances).The point is I have a condition taking parts of my memory from me. The point is that my migraines are turning me into someone that’s less than my best. The point is, there’s nothing that you can do to make sure the migraine doesn’t take something from you. No amount of memory exercises or whatever will make you forget things, and you always have to have an excuse for not remembering something like, “Well, I was tired that day” or “Oh, I wasn’t feeling well” so people can just laugh you off as forgetful and not know you have an invisible illness. Because saying, “I had a migraine last week and that took my memory” just isn’t something that someone can understand.

I know that sharing what I go through helps those that go through the same thing, so I hope that this story is helpful. I haven’t seen anyone talk about the memory thing before.

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Comments

View Comments (14)
  • Lee614
    8 months ago

    Thank you for articulating this symptom of migraine! I do at times state that I have a neurological condition that affects my memory. My husband tells me on a regular basis that I said something or did something that I don’t remember. I either forget to pay a bill or forget that I paid one and pay twice or even 3 times. And I have a system to help me remember. What really bothers me is that it seems that all the medical system focus is on relieving pain. There doesn’t seem to be any recognition of the other effects of migraine on our minds and bodies.

  • mammapeaches (Susan McManus)
    8 months ago

    faeriefate, THANK YOU!!!!!!! I keep telling my family this, but no-one seems to truly understand! Im now peri-menopausal which has forgetfulness as a side effect, so double whammy!!!!

    Great article!!

  • kimmersutphin
    8 months ago

    Along with the pain and not being able to show up for work and finally having to retire on disability this was one of the worst parts I had a job in bioterrorism and you can’t do that when you can’t remember a lot of your job

  • ginachap66
    9 months ago

    This is something I have been very concerned about, more so in the past year. I have had migraines for over 30 years and most of the time I can barely recall my life.

  • Lee614
    8 months ago

    When I hear people talking about their memories of things that happened through out their lives it makes me realize that I have very few memories like that. It’s scary.

  • David
    1 year ago

    My problem is that when feeling good I don’t write appointments down cause they’re so easy to remember, then a headache wipes the slate clean and people are mad at me for not showing up. I think I forget how much I forget.

  • Lee614
    8 months ago

    I do that too.

  • BchBm
    1 year ago

    Memory loss bothers me more than anything else. It infuriates me to no end when I sit with highly respected headache specialists and tell them that I can’t recall names, important business details for hours, and other items critical for my career and they just ask me about pain levels….before chronic migraine I was on a partner track, never wrote down anything, and crushed every goal put in front of me. While my logical reasoning skills are still way above average, I miss critical details that I never used to miss and don’t put together the big picture like I used to. I would pay any price to get my memory back and tolerate a lot of pain in return.

  • Lee614
    8 months ago

    Exactly! More proof that doctors do not understand migraine’s effect on the brain. Pain is one part of a systemic illness. We are intelligent highly capable people who are stopped dead by the side effects of migraine.

  • mygrainetoo
    1 year ago

    Thank you for your post on retrieval problems resulting from migraines. I have decided that I have a longer postdrome period (than that which is usually defined as physical exhaustion and fatigue with waning headache) that involves memory problems after physical problems are gone. In fact, the more I live with migraines, the postdrome phases remind me of recovery periods of grand mal seizure patients for whom I used to care. As a result I try not to do much that requires a lot of memory retrieval, performing new tasks, being around new people the day after the exhaustion is gone because I am still mentally foggy.

  • parmes
    1 year ago

    Yeah, I completely had no idea that memory loss was a thing for migraines and now my life is making a lot more sense. I also have epilepsy so I just blamed all of the loss on that, but so many times I would have moments of “when did we talk about this? I don’t remember having this conversation. Did I take this medication already?” and I hadn’t had a seizure in days. There was even one time that my sister-in-law came to the door and asked me where my husband was using his first name, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember who she was talking about. How messed up is that?! I thought I was going insane, and the stress triggered an attack that lasted 4 days.

  • Tamara
    1 year ago

    Yes it is a common symptom …. there also are medications (vaporic acid, tompax for example) that can have memory loss as a side effect.

    I experience this as well and it is very frustrating. My house is covered in sticky notes and I write EVERYTHING down. I have a notebook that follows me around the house with everything I need to remember. Just doing that and making lists has helped me with the stress of trying to remember. I also get my family to help me remember things, quick texts the day before something to remind me what I need to bring etc.

    The worse part of the memory problems is I had to discontinue my diploma course, I was three quarters through a holistic nutrition degree program and had to stop it. Which means my dream job is also a no go. Really hard to get over the lose of that. I even stopped a coupl of my meds and prayed it was side effects but no help.

    All the love to you

  • Lee614
    8 months ago

    I’m so sorry that you had to stop the program. I just want to be sure that you discussed your disability with a guidance counselor at the school. There should be some aids to help you get through the courses. So frustrating to be so close and have to stop.

  • Luna
    1 year ago

    I think that memory loss is included in the symptoms, difficulty concentrating and brain fog. It is occasionally mentioned but not really talked about, not lately anyway. But thinking about what a war is going on in our brain it is no wonder that we forget. The brain just gets to busy surviving. What really makes me laugh is when I forget what I was thinking about right in the middle of the thought. I don’t have to have an excuse anymore. This is just who I am. Courage.

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