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Repeat Stories/Can’t Remember Telling Them

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This was much worse when I was younger, but I repeat stories/anecdotes without realizing it. The trouble is that I honestly cannot remember who I told or what/how I said it.

I am well-educated (Masters degree), of above-average intelligence, and fairly social and outgoing, but I’ve been told that I sometimes say the same things (same story, wording, inflection, etc.) and I don’t realize it. It drives my partners crazy. It probably others, too, but no one has really brought that up before – perhaps out of fear of hurting my feelings. If someone gently says something like, “Oh, yeah, I remember that story!” or “Oh, you’ve mentioned that!”, I will immediately realize my mistake and stop telling it, but, unless they do that, I sometimes don’t remember telling the story/anecdote before.

This scares me. As a child I even had neurological testing done and nothing out of the ordinary was found. But what is wrong with me? I DO make an effort to recall what I say (imagining the situation or how it feels to speak the words, etc.), but that does not always work. Part of the problem may be that I encounter a wide variety of people in my life, so I can’t always remember who I’ve said what to, but that does not really excuse this behavior.

Sometimes I think that there might be triggers. I will hear a song/someone will mention something and it reminds me of a story or anecdote and, before I realize it, I open my mouth and tell it. The thing is I have genuine trouble remembering that I said it/told it before to that specific person.

Other than this, I don’t feel I have major memory issues. I work a job which requires me to recall and keep track of myriad details, I have no blank spots in my memory, and I am considered to have excellent recall of books, movies, and things that have happened. So why can I not remember telling stories? Oh, and, for what it is worth, this generally does not happen when I write, only when I speak.

Are there ways to stop this? I loathe the thought of being annoying to other people, but it’s not something I mean to do. HELP!

Repeat Stories/Can’t Remember Telling Them

Answered by on -

A.

The only area you believe you might have memory problems is your telling of personal stories. Since you did not mention how often these memory events occur, it’s difficult to determine how much of a problem they may or may not be.

You might feel better if you consulted a memory specialist and received an objective opinion. A specialist can determine if memory impairment is present. Before the appointment, document the memory loss episodes. Having that documentation will greatly assist your doctor.

Make your doctor aware of any medications you are taking. Certain medications or combinations of medications can result in memory loss. Other conditions can cause memory loss or forgetfulness including: depression, anxiety, alcoholism, hyperthyroidism, head trauma or injury, among others.

If memory problems are present, it is important to receive a prompt diagnosis. The sooner the diagnosis, the sooner treatment can begin. Ask your primary care physician for a referral to a memory specialist.

If an evaluation determines that your memory is fine, consider an alternative explanation. You are primarily concerned about not wanting to be an “annoyance.” This suggests that you might be overly concerned about “bothering” people. If so, this often stems from not feeling worthy or not feeling “good enough.” Counseling is highly effective in addressing problems of self-esteem.

Also, you might simply preface your story or anecdotes with “hey did I tell you about…?” or “stop me if I told you this” or ” did I ever tell you about…?” or “maybe I’ve already told you this but it bears repeating” or any other phrase that says the same thing. Many people do exactly that. It is not uncommon to repeat an anecdote especially if you are interacting with a number of people. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Repeat Stories/Can’t Remember Telling Them

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Repeat Stories/Can’t Remember Telling Them. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 19, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/10/01/repeat-storiescant-remember-telling-them/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.