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I went to bed as a 32-yearold and woke up thinking I was just 15; Astonishing story of mum struck down with amnesia condition that erased 17 years of her life.

Byline: JANET TANSLEY ECHO Writer janet.tansley@

NAOMI Jacobs went to bed a 32-yearold mum - and woke up a 15-year-old teenager.

She didn't recognise her own voice and when she looked in the mirror, the face staring back at her was much older than the one she remembered.

"I grabbed my face and screamed," she said.

"I burst into tears and dropped to the floor. It wasn't me."

Naomi, from Toxteth, had been struck by dissociative amnesia, a condition which causes a disruption or breakdown of memory. And she had simply lost the past 17 years.

"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."

While she had slept time had effectively turned back to 1992.

Tony Blair was back in Number 10, 9/11 hadn't happened and the world had yet to be blessed with mobile phones that weren't the size of bricks!

Even her 10-year-old son was a stranger. "I looked at his photo on the wall and my brain said 'Leo' but I didn't know who he was."

Naomi ran around the house looking for clues, which eventually came when she heard music coming from her bedroom and traced it to a small 'black box' on her bedside cabinet.

Calling her mobile was her youngster sister Simone who, with best friend, Katie, came to her rescue and started to help Naomi retrace her past and rediscover who she was. Naomi sought medical help and then, with the help of Simone and Katie, and diaries she had kept throughout her life, she set about piecing together the missing years.

It took two months to regain her memory and venturing back into her past was painful.

At the time the condition struck, Naomi was studying for a psychology degree and had her final exams approaching, and she had recently split with Leo's father.

She had lost the homeopathy business she had worked hard to build.

In her earlier life, Naomi was confronted by a number of terrible issues, including the breakdown of her parents' relationships and her mother's spiralling descent into alcoholism. Worse than that she said she was the victim of a sexual assault at the age of six by the brother of a family friend.

As a child and as a young woman she had coped by making the memories 'disappear' and hiding behind a shield of drink and drugs.

"In many ways the amnesia had to happen," she said. "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," said Naomi.

Naomi, now 39, said: "As I had grown up I had developed the ability to split, and lock away the memories that I couldn't deal with.

"Although I had a sense that something wasn't right, it had allowed me to live a life without things, until I was ready for them to come out.

"Losing my memory enabled me to re-learn everything and re-experience it. As the adult I could re-evaluate everything and navigate it in a way I couldn't as a child.

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

Naomi has written a book about her experience which has been cathartic. She said: "Yes I have exposed myself, and made myself vulnerable and put personal things out there. But I feel no shame because it isn't my shame.

"I have no regrets, just hopes that any woman who has gone through even a fraction of what I have can read it and think 'maybe I can get through this too'.

Forgotten Girl by Naomi .Jacobs, PS7.99 pb (Pan Macmillan)


THANKS KID: | |Naomi with her younger sister Simone

ALL SMILES: | |Naomi Jacobs after rebuilding her memory
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 26, 2015
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