Naomi’s fascinating story may be reminiscent of the comedy Suddenly 30 – but it’s no laughing matter.
When Naomi Jacobs went to sleep one night, she was a 32-year-old woman. The next morning, she woke up believing she was a fifteen-year-old school girl.
The British woman didn’t recognise her own voice, her adult body or her house following the bizarre 2008 incident. As Beck Eleven reports for stuff.co.nz, Jacob’s first reaction when seeing her reflection in the mirror was to scream: “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god… I’m OLD.”
Perhaps most unnervingly of all, Jacobs had no idea who her 10-year-old son, Leo, was. While she did have “a sense my body had given birth” and felt a “really powerful rush of love” when she first saw Leo, she couldn’t recall the actual birth at all.
In a fascinating story drawing several parallels with 2004 Jennifer Garner film Suddenly 30, Manchester writer Jacobs essentially ‘skipped’ 17 years of her life, believing it was still 1992.
But her tale is a sobering one: The psychology graduate — before learning the dark roots of her episode — endured extreme, surreal confusion. She had no recollection of mobile phones or DVDs, and spent hours on YouTube catching up on viral videos she’s missed. As Eleven reports, Jacobs was particularly appalled to learn about the 9/11 terrorist attacks — a phenomenon that brought her to tears.
Strangely, she could recall certain phone numbers and how to drive a car, because her semantic memory remained intact.
While Jacob’s story might sound like a work of fiction, it was the result of transient global amnesia — a rare condition that occurs when a person blocks out certain information. The condition sometimes results after a traumatic event and is more common in women that in men, according to Cleveland Clinic. It affects five in 100,000 people in Britain, according to the Daily Mail.
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Within eight weeks, most of Jacobs’ memory returned. Her recovery was aided by the diaries she’d always kept — descriptive journals that revealed secrets about the enormous pressures and stresses she’d endured before the amnesia struck.
Reading those old pages, she learned some awful truths: Among them, she’d endured physical and sexual abuse, and had marijuana and cocaine habits. She’d also split with the father of her child shortly before the episode, had her final exams approaching and was stressed about a homeopathy business she ran.
Today, Jacobs is almost 40, lives with the now-teenaged Leo in Manchester, and no longer touches drugs. Despite the strange and difficult nature of the episode she endured, she feels she’s triumphed and become stronger through the ordeal.
“I’m not afraid any more, and when people ask if I could give back the whole thing and be living like the amnesia never happened, no way,” she says, according to stuff.co.nz.
“I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
More on dissociative amnesia (post continues after video):
Jacobs has published a memoir based on her experiences. The book, I Woke Up in the Future, is published by Macmillan and available now.
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