Dawn French

What does Dawn French have to do with dementia I hear you ask and the answer is 'nothing' so you really don't need to panic but I have just read an interesting interview with her that really made me think.  As usual it made me think about myself because I'm discovering how self centred I really am but in this dementia affected life I'm also realising that a little self absorption is no bad thing. 

As we now know dementia doesn't just arrive in our lives on the day the diagnosis is delivered.  As Penny Garner from Contented Dementia will tell you, when a person is first diagnosed the disease has been eating away at the brain for at least five years and those years will have been traumatic not just for the person living with it but also for those of us living alongside it.  I know that if you're the one who's been given the diagnosis then it's a devastating thing to happen to you but it seems to me that those of us who share your life suffer in a way that isn't usually considered.  We're living quite happily with our life partner/best friend/soulmate; sharing thoughts and feelings, planning for the future, enjoying moments of humour, loving each other, liking each other and then gradually it all begins to change.  There's less sharing, fewer plans, scant opportunities for humour and we're really not sure whether we like you any more never mind love you.  You don't pay any attention to us, there are long silences, less 'presence' and we begin to wonder if you've found someone else; someone who's better looking, slimmer, fitter, more interesting and we do everything we can to find your love, to set our world back on its axis but whatever we do makes no difference whatsoever.  Then the diagnosis arrives and things begin to make sense but by that point our self-esteem is at rock bottom and now to add to all of that are the questions which come thick and fast, and usually in the middle of the night, could I have done something different? is this somehow my fault? where did my best friend go? Maybe what I've just described didn't happen to you but it certainly happened to me and because I'd hit rock bottom I couldn't see how I would ever cope on my own or how life could be good again.

So now we come to Dawn French and that interview.  What was it she said that made such an impression on me?  The phrase was 'I have mended myself' and I realised that's what I've managed to do.  Mine is still a bit of a work in progress but gradually, over the past two and a half years, I feel as though I've climbed out of that initial despair and certainly during lockdown I think I've managed to reclaim myself, coming out the other side feeling stronger and more confident than ever before.  Because deep down I'm a realist I know this road won't be without its bumps and pot holes but I wanted to share this with you because if you too are at the beginning of your dementia journey you might like to know that the real you is still in there, you just have to work at finding yourself again.

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Frank said…
Thank you for making this available to me. Your blog is my favorite. I'm glad you write so often. Your writing touches me more than others. Please, keep on sharing your life.
Jane said…
Thank you Frank. I will keep writing because it helps me too.