What's amnesia really like? [do not read if triggering]

[if this topic is sensitive or triggering to you, do not proceed] and if this topic is in the wrong section, apologies. It’s not really a writing question and neither is it about “All Wellness” because it’s not about me or anyone I know. Idk.

I’ve written a character with amnesia before and now I’m doing another. The last one was caused by a curse and the character was aware that he forgets yesterday at the strike of midnight. It’s like amnesia but not really I guess.

This time, this one is caused by some kind of injection. I’m wondering what it’s really like to wake up and not know who you are or what you’ve done or where you are or how long you were asleep.

I read, er, listened to Project Hail Mary which is about a character with amnesia. And little incidents or things around him would trigger his memory. It’s a memory that gives him his name. Then little by little he is even able to force himself to remember. He soon does remember why he’s there and then later remembers how it happened. There’s chapter-long sequences of flashbacks.

I wonder if flashbacks are that long?

What’s amnesia really like? I feel like it could be scary to not know your name, but how long does it take for you to even think about your name. Like, I don’t think about what my name is every day. Would you really realize you don’t know your name after waking up?

I’m going to go around the internet and search for answers, but do you guys have anything?

I had a similar situation with the character Freyja. Although Freyja doesn’t have amnesia, because she has no memories to forget…her conscious life began at the (apparent) age of fourteen, and in the story’s second chapter…Though I think the other characters who don’t know Freyja’s secret (that she is a prototype clone) will treat / be told Freyja is a orphan teenage girl with severe amnesia to excuse / explain her nature.

Anyway, some interesting points I discovered in my character research.

  • There is a difference between brain-based memory and genetic / evolutionary memory…No such thing as a blank slate character / person…
  • Fragments of genetic memories or personality quirks can be inherited through organ donations.
  • Memories and communication / language abilities are ‘stored’ in separate areas of the brain.
  • Memories or skills can be trained to become instinctive, a part of your subconscious memory. There’s some truth to the saying ‘like riding a bike’.

Here are some shows with interesting interpretations of amnesia.
Gunslinger Girl (anime), The Long Kiss Goodnight, Bourne Identity, Altered Carbon (second season), Finding Nemo, Memento, Code Geass (anime).


It’s a variable disease.

My roommate had a stroke which took her all the way back to highschool, gave her a few memories that were false, and to this day she’s aware of how much time has based but can’t recall a lot about some boyfriends that were years of her life. She also has lost the ability to process things if you change the angle of where they are at, has little to no filter left, lacks self-control.

I mean, this is a woman who could have 1 piece of candy and walk away who now will eat a whole bag and not notice. That is detrimental to a diabetic. She snaps so easily now, has a hard time handling kids. She’s not really safe to drive anymore.

So yes, personality changes are a part of that, for some people.

One of the weirder traits is that short-term memory is wonky, so I can tell her something for days on end, but if it reaches long term memory, it sticks.

Basically, anything g she gets back within 2 years from the event are what she gets back. Anything still lost isn’t coming back.

Her stroke was to the back of her brain.