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Memory Woman; TOTAL RECALL: THE GIRL WHO WILL NEVER FORGET; At 25, Rebecca can recall every single detail of her life, including all of her dreams and birthdays... and she can even recite every Harry Potter book word for word.


She can remember every dream she has had, every birthday. Every meal she has tasted. She can even recite all the Harry Potter books word for word. For Rebecca Sharrock, life really is unforgettable.

Total recall has always been a reality for the 25-year-old, who has Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, meaning she can dredge up the trivial details most people forget Rebecca is one of just 80 people worldwide who have been identified as having HSAM, also known as hypermnesia.

It means she can recall minor events, which for most people would be forgotten within days, as if they happened just moments ago.

"I remember my mum placing me in the driver's seat of the car and taking a picture of me when I was 12 days old," Rebecca says. "That's my earliest memory.

"I remember every day since then. Some of them I can't date exactly because I was too young to understand calendars, but I remember what I did that day, what the weather was like and so on.

"When I relive memories, the emotions come back. So if it's something from when I was younger it's like my mind is an adult but my emotions are the age that I was then."

ebecca can also re-experience pain.

"I remember falling over when I was three at my grandparents' house and grazing my left knee," she says. "Talking about it now, I'm getting an echo of the sting in my left knee cap."

As well as pain, Rebecca can also re-experience taste. If she is ever eating something bland or unpleasant, she thinks about black forest gateau - her favourite food - and the memory will be so powerful that she can taste it.

I remember She says: "I can re-taste the cherries, chocolate and cream and that takes away the other taste."

my mum taking picture." Her mother, Janet Barnes, says: "Becky can recite every Harry Potter book inside out.

when I 12 days "When she had nightmares as a child, to take her mind off it we would get her to just start reciting Harry Potter from chapter one."

However, there are times when memories can be overwhelming. "At night I have to sleep with the radio on and a soft light," Rebecca says. "If it's too dark or quiet my mind just chatters away with all these memories and I can't sleep."

On top of that, Rebecca has no control orpshws over what memories she recalls. At times she relives painful experiences with such vividness that she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I was quiet and kept myself to myself at school and, as such, I was a target for bullies," she says.

Memory t "Recently, I went back to my old school for my sister's graduation and being in that building again brought all those memories flooding back. I burst into tears and had to leave.

"The slightest thing can trigger a memory. A particular shade of a colour, or a shape will remind me of something."

By contrast, Rebecca says her short-term memories can appear hazy, but become clearer as time goes by.

And she has stopped watching television news altogether as she finds reliving the imagery shown in more harrowing reports too distressing.

The condition is so rare that Rebecca - of Brisbane, Australia - did not know she had it until 2011.

That was when mum Janet, 51, saw an episode of a TV news show that focused on it.

Before that, Rebecca thought everybody had the power to recall everything that had happened to them.

Janet said: "Becky had been diagnosed with autism and obsessive compulsive disorder as a teenager, so we thought her memory might be something to do with that. But watching that 60 Minutes special it was like a light bulb went on. They had people with HSAM recalling things that had happened in their lives. I just knew for sure that that was what Becky has too."

Janet got in touch with researchers at the University of California, who asked Rebecca to join a study they were conducting into HSAM.

As well as getting help from a therapist, Rebecca has developed a coping mechanism of her own.

On the first of every month, she will remember everything good that has happened during that month in previous years, in a bid to keep her mind positive.

"Birthdays and Christmases are always really exciting because I relive every one I've ever had," says Rebecca.

"Sometimes the excitement can be a little overwhelming, though."

Rebecca is still involved with the study and travelled to the USA so researchers could run an MRI scan on her to get a better idea of what a HSAM patient's brain looks like.

She says: "It's not for show, it's trying to figure out if everyone's brain can do this. Plus, it's believed the study has the potential to help understand Alzheimer's and dementia."

Janet adds: "Finding out about HSAM has been positive for Becky. She's realised that all these things were happening not because of any sort of deficiency with her. Before there was the self-doubt and the feelings of not being good enough." Her five most vivid memories July 12, 2011 Seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 at a midnight screening.

1 2 December 11, 2014 It was my 25th birthday and we were having severe thunderstorms. Mum went out to do the grocery shopping, but I got to stay at home as it was my birthday.

3 July 6, 2014 I was in Downtown Disney at California and I spotted two Build-a-Bears exclusive to Disney Parks in the shop. I bought the pink bear and named her Tiana (from the film The Princess and the Frog).

4 December 25, 1994 It was Christmas and one of my presents was a scented paper flower maker. I enjoyed using the machine to cut the paper in a press and attach it to a plastic stem.

5 September 12, 2000 I woke up very excited as I was going overseas for the first time on a school trip to New Zealand. As it was a Tuesday I still had to go to school. Yet those of us who were going on the holiday got to leave school early, while our fellow students attended an assembly to wave us off.

I remember my mum taking a picture of me when I was 12 days old REBECCA SHARROCK on her earliest memory


DETAILS Screening of Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is one of Rebecca's stand-out moments

A LIFE REMEMBERED Rebecca shortly after her birth, which is the only birthday she does not recall; on her fourth birthday with her mother Janet and sister Jessica; having an MRI scan for California study

potter about At home in Hogwarts T-shirt
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 7, 2015
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