The day I lost my mind …and how I found it again
The Australian Women's Weekly|June 2021
One Sunday in March last year, Dasha Ross’s memory left her. Suddenly struck by a mysterious condition, Transient Global Amnesia, she lost a whole day of her life, and it has taken a year to truly recover.

I’m back at last … back to how I was before I lost my mind. Sitting in the tranquil Daintree Rainforest in Far North Queensland, I roll a ball of black sapote ice-cream around my mouth, feeling all the terrible anxiety I’ve carried for the last year melt away – just like this delicious rainforest fruit ice-cream melts in my mouth. Travelling alone up to Cape Tribulation, Kulki country, to the most beautiful place on Earth – the northern tip of Australia – has been my ultimate test.

It’s been quite a journey because, you see, on Sunday, March 1, 2020, I lost my mind. Not just for a minute, but for an entire day. Gone. I have no memory at all of what took place – and I never will. What happened, and why, remains a total mystery to me. I only know what those people close to me told me about what happened. I’ve only got second-hand memories of the day when my brain froze.

What is memory exactly? I’d never asked this question until I lost mine. One minute mine was there, just as it always had been, like a well-worn, much-loved suitcase at the back of the cupboard. It was reliable (well, mostly) and it could always be dialled up at will. But in an instant, my memory was gone. I had no recall of anything I’d been doing on that Sunday. None.

Consternation set in. Not just mine. I phoned some friends four times in 10 minutes to check on a dinner date that evening, saying, “I’m a bit confused. Am I coming to dinner tonight?” “Yes,” they said. After my fourth call, they rang my daughter, Lola. “We’re worried about Dasha,” they said.

By the time Lola reached my house, I was agitated and disorientated. Earlier that day, a friend had given me a book. “What book?” I’d asked him just minutes later. Now he returned, concerned that my confusion was the sign of a stroke. He met my daughter at the door and I introduced them five times over. They called an ambulance.

I was dressed for dinner, wearing my brand-new, pointy-toed, red suede slingback shoes. Lola suggested I change them for some sensible Birkenstock sandals. “No, no, no, I’m wearing these!” I insisted as I clattered down two flights of stairs, with the slingbacks slipping off, to the waiting ambulance, which I’d now forgotten was coming. I was irritated and confused when I saw it, despite the fact it was festooned in gaudy rainbow pompoms to celebrate Sydney’s Mardi Gras weekend.

I refused to get in the ambulance, repeating, “I don’t want to go through this again. I don’t want to go through this again.”

Maybe I was remembering the last ride I’d had in an ambulance, five years earlier, when my husband went to hospital terminally ill with cancer. He never came home, dying several days later.

Or perhaps I remembered that I’d been taken by ambulance to the Prince of Wales Hospital to undergo a carotid endarterectomy after suffering three transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes) 15 years earlier. Either way, I knew hospital was the last place I wanted to be.

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