Jessica Sharman lost her memory following seizures one day last March.
Jessica had no idea who her family and friends were — or her boyfriend Rich Bishop.
He has since had to woo her all over again slowly.
Her memory has still not returned and Jessica, 20, has had to gradually get to know her parents and 25-year-old Rich from scratch.
With their help, she is piecing together the parts of her shattered life.
Jessica and Rich had been seven months into their relationship on the fateful day their life was turned upside down.
They were on their commuter train travelling from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, into London, where they worked together in recruitment when Jessica suffered a series of seizures.
“I was terrified. I had no idea who anyone was. Everyone was a stranger to me. I didn’t even know my own name. I remember boarding the train that day in March, but that’s it. I’ve been told my body went limp and my eyes glazed over. But we had nearly arrived in London and Rich was able to support me until we got to the station, then walk me to our office and call my parents while he looked after me. I now recall seeing a woman running towards me but I had no idea who she was. She was hugging me and asking if I was OK but I just stared back at her blankly. She kept saying she was my mom.”
“But not only did I not recognize my parents in the pictures . . . I had no idea what I looked like.
“I found a mirror and looked at my reflection but it was like I was looking at a stranger. I did match the person in the photos, though, so agreed to go home with my parents. Mom put a hand on my knee but I pushed it off, it felt weird to be touched by a stranger.”
When they got home, Jessica says: “I didn’t recognize the house.
“My mom gave me a tour but nothing came back to me. My parents invited Rich over but I didn’t know him and, when they left me alone with him, I was really scared.”
The next day, Jessica’s parents took her to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London.
She was kept there for a week and diagnosed with amnesia brought on by epilepsy.
She had known she had epilepsy since the age of 14, but it had not had a big impact on her life.
Jessica says: “Doctors told me it could take six months for my memory to return — if it returned at all. My head was spinning, it felt like I was in a horror film.”
Discharged from the hospital, Jessica then struggled to accept Rich.
She says: “I remember at one point I was left on my own with him and hated it. I didn’t know him but he was acting like we were in love.
“So two weeks later, I tried to end the relationship. He looked so hurt and promised he would help me remember how great we were together. Seeing how passionate and caring he was finally convinced me he must care for me, so I agreed to give it a shot.”
Rich has since made it his mission to help Jessica fall back in love.
He takes her for walks in the park, they revisit favorite restaurants and he tells her everything about their past.
Jessica says: “I don’t remember the first time I fell in love with Rich but I do remember the second.
“He was so patient with me, so sweet, I couldn’t help but fall for him.
“My parents taught me how to cook again, told me what TV I liked and how I liked to dress. Socializing was hard, as friends expected me to trust them straightaway.”
Jessica did not rejoin Rich at work.
When her confidence started to return in September, she got a call center job.
She says: “I was starting to leave the house more. People I’d known for years would approach me and start chatting. It was stressful admitting I had no idea who they were. It’s hard to explain losing 19 years’ experiences — and doctors say I may never get these back. I’ve had to relearn everything about those close to me — and doctors say there’s a 50 percent chance I could lose my memory all over again. But Rich was able to make me fall in love with him twice — so I know he could do it again.”