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Memories Return For Woman Who Had Amnesia

JACKSON (WWJ/AP) - A Jackson woman suffering from amnesia who disappeared for three weeks last year before turning up in Illinois has begun recovering some of her lost memories, and many of them are painful.

Amber Gerweck said memories have flooding back in recent months, including some that were so painful they may have brought on her amnesia in the first place.

"When you have made as many mistakes as I have, there's a lot of bad stuff," she told The Detroit News for a story Saturday.

Gerweck, 33, walked up to a police officer in Joliet, Ill. last May and said she didn't know her name, where she was or how she had gotten there.

Police later learned she was Gerweck, a secretary from Jackson.

She remembered nothing about herself and few things about the world and was diagnosed with amnesia.

The last thing Gerweck recalls before disappearing was driving to a Jackson convenience store for ice cream and not finding the type she wanted.

Although most memories about her life have returned, doctors told her she may never learn what happened during those three weeks. They said she experienced dissociative fugue, a rare malady accompanied by amnesia and wandering.

Gerweck's psychiatrist told her she had subconsciously chosen to have amnesia as a kind of delayed reaction to the ugliness surrounding her divorce five years earlier.

The News reported Gerweck had cheated on her husband and abandoned her four children, ages 2 to 7. She said she left the children because she thought she was going to kill herself.

"I made mistakes that led to the worst decisions anyone could make," Gerweck said. "The horror never goes away."

A trickle at first, her memories surged in February and March, including the cheating and child abandonment. It was the worst part of her recovery, she said.

Gerweck described it as living several years in a few days.

"I'm not sure what I've forgotten so I can't say what I remember," she said.

Despite that, Gerweck said the amnesia has given her a new lease on life.

"I need to discover who I am, not who I was," she said. "I have a unique  opportunity to learn who I was truly meant to be."

She has been recounting her experiences online. Her blog, Twitter account and email address don't contain her name, but the word "amnesiac."

TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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