She had a life filled with blessings and reasons to be joyful: friends, parents, and a devoted boyfriend. But one morning while Jessica Sharman was on the train to her office in London, she suffered a traumatic experience that would forever alter the course of her life.
The vast-reaching repercussions of her unexpected health incident didn’t just mean she’d have to spend time recovering physically. She now had before her a task that seemed practically impossible: the task of piecing back together every aspect of her young life and trying to recreate everything as it had been before — from scratch.
1. An English Rose
Twenty-year-old Jessica Sharman seemed to have everything going for her. She had reached a period of wonderful stability in her young life and had a lot to be grateful for. She was living comfortably with her loving parents Lisa and Gary, in the quaint town of Tunbridge Wells in the southeastern English province of Kent.
What’s more, she had a steady job in the bustling city of London, and a boyfriend who was absolutely devoted to her. But something was about to happen to Jessica that would utterly invert her view of reality. Her body was hiding a dangerous secret — and she could never have imagined what it would do to her.
2. Workplace Soulmates
From the look of things, it was going to be a March day like any other when Jessica Sharman and her boyfriend, 25-year-old Rich Bishop, boarded the train for their daily commute from Tunbridge Wells into London to get to the office where they were both employed. Life seem great working together, but soon things would take a drastic turn.
Jessica and Rich could thank their lucky stars that they even worked in that office, because it was thanks to this job that they had even met in the first place! They never could have expected what was about to take place, a calamity that would forever alter the way they saw each other.
3. The Fateful Ride
The train ride to work was over an hour long, so the pair were surely keeping each other occupied, helping to pass the time of the otherwise banal morning commute with a loving chat. However, something was about to happen that would shake them out of their routine, something that would permanently change their relationship.
But their otherwise happy conversation was about to take a dark turn. Neither one of the young couple had any inclination that in the next few seconds, their lives would forever shift. As Rich spoke to his girlfriend, he noticed something highly out of place — and it frightened him. What was wrong?
4. A Tragedy Begins
The inter-city commuter train had almost reached London. In the middle of the conversation between Jessica Sharman and her boyfriend Rich on their usual ride, Jessica stunned Rich when she suddenly and inexplicably stopped talking, going totally silent and still. She became unresponsive. As Rich tried to get her attention, Jessica’s body went totally limp.
Her eyes became completely foggy, and Rich could tell that his girlfriend was no longer mentally present with him. As he called her name in a vain attempt to snap her out of whatever was happening to her, Jessica slumped over in her seat in the train. Rich, terrified, could only hold her. What on Earth was happening?
5. Truly Terrifying
Rich was stuck on public transportation, desperately clutching his girlfriend, who had completely lost consciousness. It was one of the scariest things that had ever happened to him. Seeing his girlfriend totally unresponsive and glazed over was absolutely horrifying. It was all he could do to remain calm under the circumstances.
He tried over and over again to revive her as the other passengers looked on dumbstruck. But it was no use. It was as though she had completely left her body. Yet even in this unexpected, jarring situation, the pair had one thing that was actually going in their favor.
6. Crucial Moments
As jarring as it was, the timing of Jessica’s sudden loss of consciousness did have one blessing. The train was just about to arrive in London, and was therefore much closer to help. Rich wouldn’t have to wait too long to rescue her. As soon as the train pulled into the station, Rich held Jessica up.
To his relief, as he scanned her face for signs of clarity, he could see she was slowly coming back. Jessica was regaining awareness, bit by bit. Propping her on his shoulders like a crutch, Rich led her on up into their office. But the most bitter surprise was yet to be revealed.
7. Getting Help
Once they had reached their office, Rich sat Jessica down. He frantically phoned her parents, telling them they had to get to the office as quickly as possible. They couldn’t get back on the train to travel home yet, because for now he needed to keep her in a stable, safe, familiar environment.
Rich watched Jessica closely and took care of her. But as anxious as he was while he waited for her parents to arrive and help them, he was about to discover that something indescribable had happened. And the depth and immensity of it would be far more than any of them would be able to fathom.
8. Regaining Consciousness
It turned out that Jessica Sharman had suffered a series of seizures on the train ride from Tunbridge Wells to London. She was now awake, if not lucid, seated in her office, remaining relatively quiet. Though she was conscious, she was not particularly responsive to Rich. In the meatime, he waited impatiently for Jessica’s parents to get to the office.
Rich explained to Jessica what had happened to her. She was utterly baffled. She remembered nothing of what had gone on during the fateful train ride — other than boarding the train itself. Then, as Rich sat with her trying to jog her memory, all of a sudden, a woman burst into the room.
9. Surprise Visitor
A middle-aged woman rushed into the office, running. She made a bee line towards Jessica. Her arms were outstretched, her face showing how hysterically worried she was. The woman raced up to the still recovering Jessica, and she threw her arms around the dazed young woman in a frantic embrace.
But despite how clearly this woman seemed to know and care about her, Jessica’s reaction was one of utter confusion. Instead of returning this visitor’s hug, Jessica shrank away, surprised. She stared at the woman in front of her, utterly unmoved. From her body language and lack of response, it was clear she had no idea who this was.
10. A Mother’s Worry
It was frightening enough to hear what had happened to Jessica. But her reaction to being hugged was beyond unnerving. The woman who Jessica seemed not to recognize was actually none other than her own mother, Lisa. But Jessica hadn’t recognize her at all. Lisa, stunned, kept repeating to her that she was her mom.
Even though Lisa insisted that she was Jessica’s mother, it was all in vain. Jessica was utterly unconvinced. Jessica had no recollection of this face, and it was extremely uncomfortable to have someone she perceived as a total stranger insist she was her parent. What was more concerning was that Jessica’s behavior didn’t seem to make sense. But what was really going on?
11. Photo Identification
Lisa could scarcely believe that her own daughter didn’t recognize her, so in her attempt to prove it, she did the first thing most people would do in her situation: provide evidence of the two of them together to at least establish that she was telling the truth. So Lisa whipped out her phone and began frantically scrolling through her photo gallery.
Lisa tried to find any picture that showed the two of them together, to prove to her their connection. But there was another piece missing from Jessica’s memory as well. As Lisa searched her phone, her husband Gary appeared behind her — but unfortunately, Jessica had no recollection of him either. Would Lisa’s plan work?
12. Photographic Memory
Jessica’s parents kept saying her name to her, but even that most basic tenet of Jessica’s identity was suddenly foreign to her. Her entire memory seemed to have been wiped. Lisa flashed photo after photo in front of her daughter, trying to show her they were related and that they had a lengthy history together.
Not one of the pictures managed to jog Jessica’s memory or light any sparks in her mind. What was transpiring right before her family and boyfriend was nothing short of horrifying. But it wasn’t just that Jessica didn’t recognize her mother. There was an even worse part of her apparent condition.
13. Girl, Interrupted
Jessica Sharman wasn’t even able to recognize her own face in the pictures her mother had presented her with. Both women in the image that her mother had shown her were completely unfamiliar to Jessica. The experience left her totally bewildered, and an eerie question beset her mind: what did she herself even look like?
Jessica got up and went to the nearest mirror, because she had to see what she looked like. She didn’t even remember her own face. Peering into the mirror, a hesitant stranger looked back at her. She began to shake and sat down again. How could she piece this all together?
14. A Mother’s Love
Lisa saw how afraid her daughter Jessica was, and her heart broke for her. It was truly painful seeing how she didn’t recognize anyone around her, including herself. And it hurt just as much to know that Lisa herself could do apparently nothing to calm her own daughter down, despite her best intentions.
No matter the scope of the way the sudden memory loss was affecting Jessica and the rest of them, she wanted to make sure her suffering daughter knew everything was going to be alright. In a natural motherly gesture, she tried to comfort Jessica by putting her hand on her knee. But the reaction shocked her.
15. Stranger Hands
It was the kind of simple motion that a parent does time and time again without even consciously processing it. Even if it seemed a completely logical thing for Lisa to do, Jessica was unnerved by the gesture. Having her knee touched by this woman that Jessica didn’t recognize felt particularly uncomfortable.
She reacted by instantly brushing this stranger’s hand off of her knee. For her, it made sense, but for Lisa, it was a painfully physical representation of the calamity that had befallen her child. There was only one thing they could do: get her out of the office and back home.
16. A House Is Not A Home
For anyone who has suffered a traumatic health incident, few things are as calming as going home. But that was far from the case for Jessica Sharman. Even at her parents’ house in Tunbridge Wells, nothing was familiar. Her parents had to escort her around the home in a sort of grand tour despite the fact that she’d lived there for years.
As they familiarized her with the rooms and corridors of the home, it all seemed brand new and foreign to her. But by this point, they weren’t surprised to see how she was reacting. And when they invited Rich over to visit her, he was about to discover his own devastating part of the story.
17. Significant, But Other
After her seizures, Jessica Sharman couldn’t recognize her family’s home, nor her parents, nor even her own reflection. So it was obvious that even her devoted boyfriend, Rich Bishop, the guy whose day had been fraught with worry ever since that fateful train ride, would register as a total blank for her.
He was still determined to come to her home and sit with her. Regardless, because he was an unfamiliar man, being left alone with her was very scary for Jessica, no matter how his face shone with kindness and concern. He knew he had to enact a plan. What would the next day bring?
18. Jessica In Hospital
To say it had been a harrowing day would be an understatement. When she went to sleep, Jessica Sharman had to trust that the people “hosting her” were telling her the truth. Her parents brought her back to London the next day to a neurological hospital. On the doctor’s orders, Jessica remained hospitalized for a week.
Jessica had been diagnosed with epilepsy at age 14, in 2010. But it had not interfered in her life in such a dramatic and fundamental way up until this moment. The doctors said she had retrograde amnesia, brought on by the seizures. What would they prescribe? Was she going to ever regain her memories?
19. No Turning Back
The question on everyone’s mind was: when would this nightmare would finally end? Jessica’s doctors delivered the harsh news to Jessica, Lisa, Gary, and Rich. The process of recovering all her memories could take up to half a year. However there was a more dreadful catch: she might not recover them at all.
Jessica’s memory from before the seizures had been wiped. Her head kept spinning. Everything people told her just didn’t make sense. In her words, it was like being trapped in a horror film. Once she would be released from the hospital, how would her life look? Rich was about to receive a harsh pill of his own.
20. In Love With A Stranger
For a person suffering from total amnesia, recovering an entire life’s worth of memory is a near impossible task. There was no way Jessica could jump back into her romantic partnership. She was perplexed by the character of Rich, the man who said he was her boyfriend and acted like the pair were in love.
Hesitantly, she tried to give him a chance, but the situation proved to be too bizarre for her to handle. She didn’t understand how she could make it work, staying in a relationship with someone she didn’t even know. So after two weeks, she did something that would break his heart.
21. Letting It Down
Even though he had been presented with a horrible obstacle, Rich had hoped to keep things as close as possible to how they had been before the seizures. But despite his brave efforts to try and convince his girlfriend of the wonderful memories and love they had shared, it was of no avail.
Jessica told Rich that she wanted to break up with him. The young man was absolutely devastated. The situation was endlessly frustrating. The past few weeks had been a roller coaster, but it was not at all the kind of outcome he could have prepared himself for emotionally. Still, he wasn’t about to give up.
22. Difficult Decision
In her efforts to gain some sense of the world around, Jessica Sharman was going to cut ties with the man who said he was her boyfriend. Even if her memories from before the incident on the train had been completely erased, Jessica saw how much her words had pained Rich now, in the present.
Rich was visibly hurt. He promised her he was not going to give up on her, and he was going to try his hardest to remind her of the great times they had had. Jessica may have lost her memories, but not her compassion. Something in his face changed her mind.
23. Second Chance
It must have been the sheer honesty of his emotion. Although Jessica had been ready to cut Rich loose as a means of better making sense of her new reality, she went back on her word. She decided to allow him to try and woo her. She could see just how devoted and passionate he truly was. But would it last?
As much of a stranger as he still was to her, it was obvious how much Rich really cared about Jessica. His reaction to the threat of a breakup could have only come from the most honest place in his heart. So now that he still had her, how would he rekindle the flame?
24. Love From Scratch
Rich had fought back against any notion of losing the woman he loved, and now that she was giving him a second chance, he wasn’t going to let her get that close to slipping away again. Now Rich had a new mission: getting Jessica to fall in love with him all over again!
But his work was cut out for him. Even if he’d managed to convince her to give him a second chance, how would he bring her to love him again when she had shown him so blatantly what an utter stranger he was? How could he put away the past and start their relationship from zero? It wouldn’t be easy, that much was for sure.
25. Mission Romance
Rich was determined. He knew that for his mission to be successful, he had to take into account her emotional fragility as she recovered from the seizures and the amnesia. He would need to have plenty of patience as he took things at Jessica’s pace. But Rich had some wonderfully romantic ideas up his sleeves.
He took the recovering Jessica for strolls in the park. They returned to some of their favorite restaurants, ones that she, of course, couldn’t remember. Perhaps it would be fun for her to enjoy that food all over again, to savor the reasons that had made them adore those places from the get-go. Would his plan work?
26. Flame Rekindled
Ultimately, love won! To Rich, Lisa, and Gary’s great joy, Jessica couldn’t help but be smitten with her boyfriend all over again. His plan worked — his dogged determination had paid off. While Jessica had no recollection of how she had first fallen in love with Rich, it happened all over again.
They had a fresh start and a new canvas for their story. Rich was so kindhearted and diligent that Jessica couldn’t help but be swept off her feet. But even if he had successfully brought much-needed love back to this patient in recovery, there was still so much more to help her with.
27. Task By Task
It was a group project for everyone to help Jessica Sharman learn all over again how to be herself. Her family, friends, and boyfriend would have to rely on their memories of her personality and likes and dislikes, and she would have to trust them that they knew what they were talking about.
It seemed almost paradoxical, the concept of teaching a person how to be themselves. But it was a necessary process to help her live the best life she could. That meant explaining what television programs she had enjoyed, what her fashion sense was, and how to cook for herself. Unfortunately, she was left with many gnawing questions.
28. Pondering An Identity
Jessica had no idea what her personality had been before the seizures. She wanted to know what she was good at, what she was bad at, what she enjoyed doing. She was filled to the brim with existential dilemmas, because the very nature of who she was as a person was constantly called into question.
But Rich and Jessica parents hadn’t been the only elements in her life before her attack of seizures. Like any young woman her age, she had been also been surrounded by multiple circles of friends. While breaking the news to them had been difficult enough, what would it be like to try and restore their friendships?
29. Making New Friends With The Old
Meeting her friends over again was a very strange and intensely overwhelming process, to be repeated time and time again on a case by case basis. Her friends loved her just as they had before, and she was immediately expected to trust each person who spoke to her claiming to have been close to her.
But it would be a long process of recovering their friendships. Each one required her to relearn the fundamentals. Over and over again, she had to disappoint them by telling them she didn’t know who they were, and she had no recollection of their numerous memories of good times together. How would all turn out?
30. Day By Day
Her friends were disappointed that Jessica had lost all her experiences with them, but they were nonetheless eager to show her how much they cared. They had to be careful not to remind her of the past, or to say something otherwise commonplace like “Remember the time…?” because it would make her sad.
Six months after initially loosing her memory, Jessica Sharman was still retaining her memories made after the seizures. Unfortunately though, she was never able to recover her old ones from before she’d boarded the train from Tunbridge Wells that fateful March morning. Nonetheless, she was incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by a network of loved ones — no less the man she’d fallen in love with, twice!