Rebecca is the only person in the world who can remember life before she was born.

What’s your earliest memory?

Maybe you can distantly remember the bright colours and sense of excitement of your first children’s concert. Or recall a particular park where you really liked the swing.

I think my first memory has something to do with my fairy bed sheets. But I can’t quite work out if that’s just because I’ve seen photos of it as an adult.

The point is, you can probably only remember snippets or moments from your early childhood – if you’re lucky.

But Rebecca Sharrock can remember every single day of her entire life.

She is one of just 60 people in the world with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, or H-SAM.

Rebecca was interviewed on The Project. Post continues after video.

Video via Ten

Rebecca is the only person in the world who can remember life before she was born.

The 29-year-old can recall what it was like in her mother’s womb.

“I can remember having my head tucked in my legs and being in a dark environment. I was comfortable and content but I didn’t really think much about my surroundings or my existence,” she told Mamamia.

Rebecca Sharrock
Rebecca drew this picture from memory, it's what she can recall from inside the womb. Image: Supplied.

She also remembers leaving the hospital after she was born.

"I was wrapped up all the time and the blanket covered a lot of what was going on around me. At that age I didn't understand what a hospital or a home was. I remember the different environments. At that age I was just excessively curious as to my surroundings, but life was a novelty," she said.

As Rebecca describes what life is like through a child's eyes but with an adult lens, you start to get a handle of why young kids act the way they do.


"As a young child I didn't think in words. I just thought in pure feeling and senses. It was much quicker to think that way. I've tried retraining myself to think that quickly now and I can't. I can't not use words when I think now," she explained.

From learning how to talk to deciding she "might try walking now" to what it felt like to be held by her mother as a baby, Rebecca remembers it all.

She can relive her first ever dream as clearly as the day she had it.

"It was a cold night and I was one and a half," she told Mamamia. "I found myself in a room with ball and shoot machines and funny noises and balls running down tunnels. I woke up crying and thinking where am I. But not in words, in feelings."

When Rebecca was three and had developed the vocabulary, she asked her mother why every night she was taken away from home. Her mum explained that she was dreaming and it was "in her mind".

For the next year when Rebecca dreamt she'd ask the people in her dreams, "where's mind? I want mind to wake me up and take me back home."

Rebecca as a child
Most of us would struggle to recall how we felt and what we did every day of our lives when we were this little. Rebecca can. Image: Supplied.

Rebecca can recall every single school lesson she's ever had. So you'd assume she was a straight A student, but that's not how it works.

It takes three months for Rebecca's memory to 'encode' so to speak. So her short-term memory isn't that amazing, it's her long-term memory that's crystal clear.

If you ask her what kindergarten was like, it's too hard for her say. There's too many memories to harness in her mind. But if you ask her what she did on her first day of kindergarten, she can focus her mind in an instant.

She'll tell you what she was wearing, thinking and doing from the moment she woke up and excitedly put on her new school uniform to when she lay down her head on her pillow that night. Hell, she can even tell you exactly what her bedroom looked like at that point in time and what the weather was like outside.


It's fascinating.

Except to Rebecca it's not, it's just normal.

"To me it's weird when people have lived a stretch of their life and they've got no memories of it," she told Mamamia.

She only realised in January 2011 that everyone didn't think in as extraordinary a detail as she did after her mum made her watch a program on H-SAM on 60 Minutes.

Rebecca and mum
Rebecca and her mum. Image: Supplied.

After two years of psychological testing she was diagnosed aged 23.

Rebecca muses that her autism (which she was diagnosed with aged 15) has probably helped her with her H-SAM in a way, as it allows her to cope with the overwhelming feelings that come with being able to remember every moment - good and bad - in her life.

"If I didn't have autism I think I'd be a very emotional person. But my autism makes emotions a little bit more difficult," she said.

"In that way I am blessed to have autism, because it's put a little bit of a filter there."

But emotions and feelings are hard regardless when your brain refuses to give you the gift of being able to 'forgive and forget' as the saying goes.

"I have been taught how to forgive by my therapist, but I can never forgot," Rebecca said.

For example, if Rebecca sees someone years later that she had a fight with as a child, she will relive that fight as if it's happening today. Her mind will be thinking "I hope the teacher gets that person in trouble for breaking my toy" but then her conscience and reasoning will remind her, "this is ridiculous, why is this an issue right now, that was ages ago."

It's hard to explain. But it makes it hard to move on when people are mean or say something rude... or break her toys if we go back that far.

Then there's the issue of food. You know how your tastebuds mature? Rebecca remembers exactly what it tasted like to eat Vegemite for the first time when she was three. It wasn't pleasant. Now as an adult, that first experience gets in the way every time she takes a bite of her Vegemite toast.


Rebecca also finds it hard to sleep. She has to play soft classical music to give her mind something else to focus on, otherwise she gets too distracted by flashbacks.

As she told Mamamia, there are so many annoying little memories she can't get rid of. "They're useless clutter," she explained.

To calm her mind and focus her thoughts Rebecca draws, reads and writes.

She knows every single word of every Harry Potter book by heart. Give her a chapter and she'll just start reciting.

You could honestly talk to Rebecca for hours to comb her memories and experiences and match them to your own. She can literally explain a child's train of thought, and describe in minute detail what it feels like to stand, talk and crawl for the first time.

But one of the most interesting takeaways is the truth behind the fact that children are truly smarter than adults give them credit for.

For at least a year before her father left the family, Rebecca knew he would eventually go. She was only a toddler. And when Rebecca's mum said to her age two "we're leaving now," she knew that meant to a new house. She'd been expecting it.

Feature image: Supplied.

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