Canadian woman's memory loss journey goes viral on TikTok: 'It gives me a voice'
"I didn't know my age or what year it was," said Toronto-based Nesh Pillay.
After suffering from a traumatic brain injury that caused her to lose her memory, Nesh Pillay thought her partner was her Uber driver.
Since taking to social media to tell her story, the Toronto-based TikToker has gone viral for openly sharing the ups and downs of her memory loss journey with her followers.
In the video that's pinned to Pillay's account, the TikToker details her experience — since being posted, the video has garnered more than 1 million views.
'A few months ago I lost my mind'
"I didn't know my age or what year it was," Pillay can be heard saying in the video. As she talked about her experience with memory loss after a traumatic brain injury, Pillay showed clips of herself taking in moments where she was fed various information about her life from family and friends. For instance, Pillay is surprised to learn that she has a daughter and that her partner is not her Uber driver. "Mom I have a boyfriend?" Pillay asked, obviously puzzled.
TikTok users took to the comment section where they asked questions, offered comforting words and shared similar experiences.
"So 50 First Dates wasn't just a fantasy story.. it's possible?!!?" said one user.
"Memory loss is so scary. Glad you're starting to get some back," commented another.
"I couldn't imagine! You are so strong! Thank you for sharing your journey with us!" said another.
When it comes to what caused her memory loss, Pillay told Yahoo Canada it "was the compound result of multiple concussions throughout my life."
"My very first was a car accident when I was 9 years old and I've had five or so since then," she continued. "The problem with traumatic brain injuries is that once you've had a few, it takes less and less of a head bump to result in more and more severe injuries."
'Most of this is what I've been told, I don't remember'
In another TikTok video, Pillay took her followers back to the day she lost her memory, which reportedly occurred in October 2022. However, Pillay followed up with a disclaimer, stating, "Most of this is what I've been told, I don't remember most of this."
In the video, Pillay explained that when she woke up at first she was fine. She went with her partner to grab a coffee and then the two of them went back to her place to watch a movie. Halfway through the film, Pillay told her partner she was feeling "a little weird" and took a nap.
"When I woke up from my nap I was very very confused," said Pillay. "By the end of that day, I thought I was 17."
'You may know me from losing my memory last year'
Since being candid on camera and addressing her memory loss story, Pillay's story has gained widespread recognition. As a result, she recently took to TikTok in this video to detail the series of events that led up to her losing her memory.
In the video, Pillay told her followers, "You may remember me from the '50 First Dates' video."
One TikTok user in the comment section detailed how Pillay's story seemed similar to that of her husband. "My husband's story almost exactly but he has had 20+ concussions," read the comment.
When talking with Pillay about how sharing her story has resonated with others, she told Yahoo that she has "gotten thousands of messages from people who are in a similar situation or have loved ones in a similar situation."
Pillay also praises her family's involvement in helping her through the recovery process. "I am so honored by the way my family came together to support me through this," she said.
'Things that have happened since my memory loss went viral on TikTok'
According to Pillay, she didn't start posting on TikTok until the worst of the memory loss subsided.
"The initial video really served as an announcement to friends and family about why I had been MIA for a few months," explained Pillay. "It took me 6 weeks to put together. Recovering from memory loss and brain trauma is a very isolating experience, but suddenly, I didn't feel quite so isolated. This gives me something to do during my recovery. It gives me a voice."
Pillay has recently been celebrating the triumphs of openly sharing her journey with the world.
In this video, Pillay listed the "things that have happened since my memory loss went viral on TikTok," where she noted receiving calls from book publishers and movie producers and getting the opportunity to launch a product for other people with neurological hardships.
Pillay has a lot of thoughts regarding her viral story.
"I'm incredibly grateful for the attention these videos have received," she told Yahoo. "I know that not everyone gets this exposure so I feel certain that I will use this momentum to help other people in a similar situation."
"It hasn't just been people with [traumatic brain injuries] either," she continued. "People with dementia, ADHD, Parkinson's and a whole host of other conditions have found comfort in my story. I'm both grateful and honoured."
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