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We Don't Remember Days, We Remember Moments

Before I Go to Sleep - S. J. Watson

I like medical stories and mysteries; I like subjects of amnesia and other brain-related issues. That's why I had very high expectations of Watson’s book and strong feeling of must-read towards Before I Go to Sleep. The history of a woman who loses memory and is able to remember only several hours, then forgets everything and wakes up as tabula rasa sounded really exciting. Although the concept and idea was excellent, the book wasn't a hit for me. Slow pace of a story and little of dramatics let me think that I’d prefer reading about her healing process, therapy in mental hospital, paranoia and emotional roller-coaster.  Instead I was presented with a story about a woman who’s rather passive and takes everything for granted. However, the book made me think of how our memories create person's personality. And that without memories, remembering those moments we don't know who we are, we can be easily manipulated and abused. That happened to Christine.

 

It seems that Christine had anterograde amnesia meaning than the transfer from short-term memory to long-term memory is impossible and in consequence a perosn is incapable of creating new memories. One of the therapy to make Christine's life bearable, regain some memories and giving a kind of exercise to her brain is writing a journal. 

 

 

I read that this activity may have an influence on intrinsic memory and somehow can create new habits in people’s brains with memory loss. Then even if you memory is incomplete, you're able of performing new activities instinctively. That sounds like a hope and a light in a tunnel. 

 

Before I Go to Sleep's chapter are written as diary entries where Christine describes day after day full of details. Her goal: jot down as many moments as she can. She's starting each day with a blank page and gets to know about her past from past diary entries, her husband's descriptions and secret sessions with her doctor. Some blasts of memories from her past appears, sometimes happy, other times harsh, messing with her head even more.

 

What struck me was change in her attitude. During her therapy in mental hospital where she was full of emotions, anger, struggling inside, going crazy (you can't blame her) and then this fire somewhere disappeared. I lacked the intensiveness of this internal struggle. I had to wait till the last chapters to see her motivated and ready to fight for her life.

 

What was really interesting was written between the lines. Memories, our past experiences, our choices and people create us. Now we take it for granted because we have unlimited access to those. But once we lose them we're so vulnerable and insecure. It's worth to remember each moment and to think about popular saying "Seize a day" not as a cliché but as a universal life rule.