Anterograde Amnesia: How it saved my life!

Imagine a child being born. As soon as she is able to feed herself and walk around, she’s told she needs to dig a hole in the backyard. She has until she’s eighteen to complete the hole, because then she will be on her own.  When she is bold enough to question her superiors and ask “What is the hole for?”  They tell her all sorts of things that it might be, but say it’s too soon to explain because she will not understand, but they finally have given her a name–“Question Box.”  And each time she asks them anything, they shake their head, revealing their disappointment and end their sentence with her new name, still neglecting to answer.

Time seems to fly by extremely quickly as the girl reaches the age of twelve.  A lot of time has passed and she’s figured that to dig the hole, she doesn’t have to rely on just her beat-up hands digging into the soil, but she can use a stick.  This saves her considerable pain, along with wear and tear.  When she tells her superiors, they pat her on the head and tell her how relieved they are she is learning from the exercise.

When she turns sixteen, she has created a sizeable hole.  It isn’t very wide, but it is so deep that one cannot see the bottom unless they are holding a flashlight, standing at the very edge.  When the supervisors approach her, they do just that.  They are both straining to see inside the hole as she stands in eager anticipation and awaits their response.  “Oh,” they say, laughing heartily, “There is no way that eight people will be able to fit in that hole without hurting each other!”  They chuckle again, as if they are sharing a secret and slap each other on the back.  The female leaves, while the male remains.

The supervisor who stays behind puts his arm around the girl’s shoulders.  “I’m sorry, but this just isn’t working out…” he turns to leave, but pauses before adding, “You’ll need to find someone else who needs a hole.  We just can’t use you anymore.”

The girl was surprised, to say the least!  She’s spent her entire life digging this hole, working hard every single day!  She’s tried to do it to specification, but no one would reveal what those specifications were!  To top it off, they cut two years off the time she had to “train” for the real world!  She certainly wasn’t prepared!  She contemplated that the last two years was when they planned to tell her the final steps she needed to take in preparation.  Now she would never know what they were!

The girl was lost as she tried to steady herself in order to figure out what she was going to do–where she was going to go!  She could no longer be concerned with her future, or the hole as she had been, for the present was much more pressing.  The supervisor stood, tapping his toe impatiently.  “Well?”

“I don’t know what to do! I’ve never been out of this yard and don’t know what’s in the world except what I’ve heard through the fence!  What will I do?”

The supervisor snatched the young woman by the arm, gruffly jerking her to her feet and began to pull her toward a gate in the fence.  “No, wait a second…” the teenage girl trembles, “I can do it just how you want me to! I know I can!  I promise! I’m sorry I didn’t do it right!  I’m so sorry!”

As the girl fights and tugs, she finally pulls free!  As her shirt tears out of the supervisor’s hand, gravity pulls her down.  Much further down than the ground– down into the freshly dug hole where she lands with a sickening thud!

The supervisor strolls over to the hole and glances down.  “Who are you?” the confused girl questions, “Where am I?” 

Satisfied that the girl isn’t dead, and the supervisor is simply doing his job, he strolls back into the house and closes the door.  Even from the deep, dark hole she is in, the frightened and confused girl can hear the tumbler in the lock clicking.  The clouds come together, blotting out the sun and it begins to rain, dripping down her face, intermingling with her tears and the grime covering her cheeks.

I believe just about everyone has heard about amnesia, but most people don’t realize there are about eight different types ranging from catastrophes the average humankind cannot cope with, such as the explosion of the twin towers; to the type which is progressive, like the continuous abuse of alcohol. Some people drink to forget their problems, and unfortunately end up forgetting everything important in addition.

I was twenty-four when given a prescription for Prozac on a visit to the doctor for a typical, work-ordered physical.  My prescription altered three times within a one-month period, and I was eventually taking triple the original dose, at one time in the evening.  That’s what the doctor ordered to fix my sleepiness while working around dangerous equipment.  One week later, I woke up someone else… I just didn’t know “who.”  Neither did anyone else who encountered me.  What’s more was nobody wants to have the added responsibility of a 24-year-old preschooler who is unable to drive, work, or remember anything for longer than five minutes.  I’m sure the situation was frustrating for my family.  I managed to retain one friend for a couple weeks… I’ll never forget Russell Carter.  But soon, even he gave up trying to understand and accept me.

About fifteen years later, my memory was slowly coming back, but the damage was that most of my childhood and all of my teen to early twenties, plus the present, was confusing if I could remember them at all.  I was out of the proverbial hole and walking around in the neighborhood–the hole far behind, in another life.

As people put their arm around me, guiding through the neighborhood, one at a time, I began to pay attention.  I saw many people digging holes, and they weren’t using their hands!  Most of them weren’t using sticks, either.  The majority of them had shovels, and a few had fuel-powered heavy equipment such as track hoes, as they dug holes one after another.  The ones with bigger equipment could do it much faster, and some of them would help the ones with just regular shovels!  This was amazing!  I had never known!  And they all seemed to excited to teach me, patiently, describing what, where, and most of all why!

That was when I realized that the sixteen years I initially lived were a waste of time.  From the time I left the yard to the time I clasped my hands around the first shovel given to me, I was learning.  I’ve been digging with a shovel for a while and now, I’m walking toward a track hoe.  Not just to make my job easier, but to help others who are digging their holes.  I’m also going to be searching for those with mud caked under their nails and splinters in their palms.  My goal is to make a difference–not for “humankind”–for their spirits and self-worth.  I have a purpose. 

About Michelle J Brewer

Free-spirited and unwilling to let life throw a curve she can't handle Michelle hasn't done it all, but what she does do she lands on her feet with her hands in the air. Currently a writer of screenplays, she knows the only true way to benefit in her life is by sharing valuable information. Helping others grow to better their own lives, and loving it at the same time, gives her a sense of accomplishment. This blog will discuss what she is working on and how it's progressing. When you want to know more about MJ Brewer, you can check out her blog at to get the inside scoop! Have fun and please volunteer your feedback!
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One Response to Anterograde Amnesia: How it saved my life!

  1. kenzie36 says:

    You know, I completely understand this and what you have gone through. Our relationship was drastically affected by this experience and now that I am needing help with ‘digging my hole’ you are right there to help. Thank you for being my Big Sister and my friend. I love you!

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