Life Health Features

Sunday 23 October 2016

Woman (32) went to bed and woke up thinking she was 15 due to a rare form of amnesia

Naomi Jacobs lost 17 years of her life over night and woke up as 32-year-old mum of one.

Published 29/04/2015 | 12:29

Naomi Jacobs
Naomi Jacobs

A British woman who lost 17 years of memory due to a rare form of amnesia has spoken about waking up as her 15 year-old self in a 32-year-old’s body.

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Naomi Jacobs from Liverpool didn’t recognise herself in the mirror after being struck by dissociative amnesia, a condition which wiped her memory back to 1992.

“I grabbed my face and screamed,” she said, speaking to the Liverpool Echo.

“I burst into tears and dropped to the floor. It wasn’t me.”

“It was terrifying,” she said.

“I thought everything was okay for about the first 10 minutes after I woke up, until I saw my face in the mirror.

“I thought I was in a dream, that it wasn’t real. Then the dream became a nightmare.”

Naomi, now 39,  woke to discover she had a ten year old son, named Leo.

“I looked at his photo on the wall and my brain said ‘Leo’ but I didn’t know who he was,” she said.

The mum, who was studying for a psychology degree at the time, has since written a book called ‘Forgotten Girl’ about the traumatic experience.

In rare cases dissociative amnesia occurs after a large emotional or physical trauma.

The author was forced to revisit her past traumas in an effort to trigger her memories and had to learn to cope with her painful past including her parents’ split and her mother’s alcoholism.

Naomi was also troubled to discover she had been raped at age six by the brother of a family friend, a memory which she tried to make “disappear”.

“In many ways the amnesia had to happen. I think I had to go back and relearn everything, deconstruct and reconstruct it, to get perspective and finally deal with it. It gave me a second chance to do that,” says Naomi.

“Of course as an adult I have dealt with things differently, I have asked for help and so I can make sure it never happens again.

“Of course I was angry at first, that I didn’t get the help I needed as a child. But not now. Life is too short.

“I realised that those around me were suffering too, and I feel blessed, so lucky, to have been give the chance to go back and deal with everything.

“There were parts of my life which were devastating but they are small parts and I have to remind myself that there is so much more to me and my life.

“I am more positive now and I have been able to unravel everything in my mind and put it in order.”

The mother has since rebuilt most of her memories through the support of her family and friends.

She is currently writing her second book and has secured a film deal on her unusual story.

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