Who am I?
By GENEVIEVE ALLPASS
'MARK' has no idea who he is or where he is from - he is not even sure if his name is Mark.
He hopes that somebody reading this will be able to tell him, because living without a memory is like having the scent without the taste.
On July 6, 2005 at about 2am Mark woke up slumped over a picnic table in a Gold Coast park with a stab wound in his throat.
He did not have a wallet or any form of identification and the only possessions he had were the clothes he had on, an old postage stamp and a week-old bus ticket from the Tweed to the Gold Coast.
Trying to rationalise and examine what had happened to him he tried to find a police station.
"I was worried that I could have been a criminal, but I thought I would have had negative feelings or some inkling if I was and I didn't," he said.
"I was concerned I would sound like a lunatic and be thrown in a cell."
Although it is not known how Mark made it to the Coolangatta police station, he said he did ring the night bell but there was no answer.
"I didn't know what to do," he said.
Walking away, he came across a newsagency, where he asked for the directions to Lifeline.
Arriving at about 6am to find Lifeline closed he found a public phone and began an hour-long conversation with a Telstra assistant in order to get some help.
"They wouldn't connect me to a lifeline counsellor because I didn't have any money, but eventually they put me through to the child protection agency," he said.
The agency counsellor advised Mark to go to The Tweed Hospital but he said he had an immediate negative reaction to the word, hospital.
"I just knew I didn't want to go near the place, but after a while she talked me into it," he said.
Mark said he was put through a "battery" of tests and scans where no clinical signs, like a head wound, were found to establish how he had lost his memory.
"I was trembling with shock while the doctor treated the stab wound and said to him that I thought there would be main arteries all around there," Mark said.
"He said: Yes but you managed to miss all of them.
"I had been asking myself all day what had happened, had I been attacked, had I fallen - had I done it to myself, but when the doctor said that to me I had an immediate instinctive reaction that I had not."
By this time, 8pm, Mark said he was becoming agitated because he hadn't eaten and was noticing that he was being followed by security guards.
"I started to realise that they didn't believe me," he said.
"Even the psychiatrists said I was not the usual person who turns up like this because I had manicured fingernails and was highly educated.
"But I am not in the position to confirm or deny it because I can't remember."
He said he has a wide range of memories but they do not connect him with who he is.
He remembers having a knee operation and having his appendix out and after seeing a jeep advertisement, he remembers a trip in a 4WD that he didn't like.
"I have strong emotive feelings about horses, but I don't know why," he said.
"When I go past a real estate office I feel there is something very familiar with it and I ask myself did I work in real estate, did I own real estate, was a family member involved in the industry?
"I've gone through so many things in my head. I have no idea how old I am. I look in the mirror and people say maybe 50 but I don't know.
"My focus is on my life now although I may find I had a better life elsewhere, but for the moment I'm locked in a prison cell."