How I lost 17 years of my life overnight

24 April 2015

By Pan Macmillan

When I first woke up I thought I was dreaming. But that dream became a nightmare when I saw my face. I found a mirror above the bathroom sink and stared into it. Maybe, I thought, if I see my reflection I will know that I am still dreaming and wake up. It took a slow second, but when my mouth dropped open in horror, I grabbed my face and screamed, ‘NO! Oh my God, oh my God oh my God oh my God . . . I’m . . . I’m . . . I’m OLD!!’

Nothing prepared me for looking at my face in that bathroom mirror and seeing that I had aged seventeen years. This was the moment that changed my life forever.

Changed forever because one night I fell asleep and the next day woke up and had lost seventeen years of memories. I was fifteen years of age again, trapped in a thirty two year old body. The last memory I had was of me falling asleep in the bunk bed I shared with my younger sister Simone, thinking about my French GCSE and the next thing I woke up in a room I didn’t recognise, terrified.

After some time, without a doubt I knew that I had woken up in the future. I had no memory of my then ten year old son Leo or even how I came to live in Manchester. Even modern technology such as touch screen mobile phones, flat screen TV’s and Google seemed alien to me.

Luckily, I had twenty-years-worth of diaries and reading these diaries during the amnesia was a profound and powerful experience. Reading about a life that I had no memory of living helped piece together a fractured past. I came to realise that pieces of you can remain frozen in time unless you go back and deal with past hurts. Surviving through it became my main focus and ultimately became my source of strength, giving me what I needed to find who I really was beyond the pain. Once I did this my memories started to come back and my life changed significantly.

Now you can read all about my experience in my new book Forgotten Girl.

Each word written brought me to the understanding that everything that happens to you has a purpose. I remembered my teenage self and how much I loved writing, and during the process of Forgotten Girl, I actually did what I had set out to do when I had the amnesia.

Find my true purpose.

No matter what I have experienced, loving the life that I have been given is the only way for me to live a better one. Each forward step I have taken has helped me to leave a part of myself behind, but to never forget who you are. Writing about my experience of overnight amnesia has taught me that no matter what life brings you, you should never underestimate the things you can achieve.

Now I hope I can share my story with you.

Forgotten Girl