Is My Forgetfulness a Problem?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. Hi. I have an issue being that i am extremely forgetful. I lose and misplace things all the time. This is very frustrating and confusing as when i do forget things i tend to lash out at my partner and 2 small children by yelling at them as if it was their fault. I then sink into a world of guilt for taking my problems out on my family and become very tired and depressed. The forgetfulness is an every day occurance but it doesn’t always end in my family being blamed. I even sometimes forget to pick my 5yo son up from kindegarten (school). This is becoming extremely frustrating as it feels as though it it getting worse daily. I try to remember to do things by telling myself over and over but this does not help as a few minutes pass and i forget what i was reminding myself to do. I even tell my partner things so if i forget then she can remind me. Our kitchen walls are full of little notes that have been stuck on them as to remember things as basic as taking out the trash. I know this only seems like a small problem but to me and my family it is something that has to be addressed and dealt with as i dont want to live my life with whatever it is i have. I should also mention that i feel very anxious sometimes and im always in a hurry to do things even when they are not that important or not an instant priority. I also feel as though im the only one that handles things wether it being our financial situations to looking after our kids or even smaller issues like cooking dinner. I never feel as though anyone else immediatey around me are doing their fair share of things even though they try their hardest (its like everything they do isn’t good enough for me when i can see that they have tried very hard to do a particular job or task) and i then in turn make them feel worthless and i feel guilty about this later aswell. I care about my family so much and i dont want to lose them. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

A. Your question raises a few separate issues including forgetfulness and anger towards your family. With regard to forgetfulness, I do not know if your level of short term memory loss is abnormal. For instance, forgetting to take out the trash is not so unusual but forgetting to pick up your child is a concern. To best determine if your forgetfulness is a sign of a larger more serious problem and also because you say that it seems to be getting worse, you should consider seeing a doctor. Your primary care doctor should be able to do a preliminary neurological exam to determine if you need to be referred to a neurologist for further testing. I would advise that you check into this.

The anger and resentment towards your family is another issue. This is a problem as you have noted, especially because you seem not to be able to control your anger and it leads you to say or do things that you wish you had not done. A therapist or a family therapist may be able to help with this. You need to learn other ways to handle your anger. You may also need assistance in determining whether or not your anger in these situations is an over reaction. You said you feel that not everyone is doing their fair share but is this true? Maybe an outside, objective source like a therapist can help verify this.

It is important that you correct this anger problem. One reason is because your family is being subjected to your unnecessary anger outbursts and this is not fair to them. More worrisome, however, is that you may be inadvertently teaching your children your approach to problem-solving, which as you readily admit involves unfairly taking out your anger on others. If you want to teach your children a healthy and constructive way to deal with life’s problems then they need to have a good role model and that starts with you as their parent. A therapist or a family therapist can help with this. I would suggest seeing a counselor if you feel that you cannot work through your anger issues on your own. I hope this answers your questions. Thanks for writing.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Mar 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Is My Forgetfulness a Problem?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/03/23/is-my-forgetfullness-a-problem/