There are so many losses in Dementia, but one that I am becoming increasingly aware of is the loss of resilience. I have always prided myself on my resilience. I have really had no choice, widowed in my thirties with three children to bring up, needing to work, I had to get on with it. In those early years I also was involved in a devastating and life changing road accident. I can remember being told when I left hospital after three months that I would have to make the most of the good days because there would not be many of them -and my reaction was ‘ that’s what you think’. But it is not like that any more.
My over reaction, to conflict in particular, can devastate me. I fall apart and contact with the people involved literally makes me vomit. As someone who has always been aware of my fighting Irish genes, the change is something I find hard to cope with. I don’t avoid conflict. I is important for me to speak up, more important than ever as I realise that my time to do so is very limited. I am not afraid of people disagreeing with me, but when that disagreement is expressed by personal attack, the resilience and ability to shrug it off has just gone.
The Dementia Friends course uses the analogy of two book cases, one sturdy, one unsteady. The unsteady one carries the books that represent our memory for facts, the sturdy one carries the books that represent our memory of emotion and those memories remain. This is so true for me. The emotional memory of someone who has ‘upset’ me – terrified me, unbalanced me are truer descriptions – just stays, and makes future contact and sadly, collegiality so difficult.
At the moment I can still work it out in my head and try and understand all the underlying factors, but the emotion always wins out over the intellect. And it literally makes me sick.
It occurs to me that this blog is strap lined Living with Dementia but Still Loving Life and there has not been a lot of loving life in some of my posts. Listening to Desert Island Discs one of the choices sent me into into a laughing memory. Like many people when I first was diagnosed I did my Corleonne family imitations and went not ‘to the blankets’ but to the duvet, where I just hid. A friend brought me a DVD to cheer me up – It was ‘The Life of Brian’ and not caring much I pushed it into the slot and on came ‘ Always Look in The Bright Side of Life. As they say ‘You have to laugh’