A life left behind
If you're living a life affected by dementia I wonder how often you think back to the way things used to be. In the years before Ash's diagnosis, when life was strangely different, I used to occasionally think wistfully back to the days when we'd go out in the evening but it was ok because I knew that he had anxiety and depression so, with the right medication, we'd soon be back on track and our social life would pick up again. Nothing to worry about there then. But the diagnosis came and it seemed there was no cure and he wouldn't get better so I began to mourn that old life and the loss of the future we'd planned. I missed the man who'd disappeared in December 2017 and I had no idea how I'd cope without 'my' Ash. The mourning went on for some time, just over two years in fact and actually right up until this spring, when it occurred to me suddenly that I hadn't lost him in December 2017, I'd lost him way, way before that. I can see that changes were afoot as early as 2012 but there's also a slight acknowledgement that it may have started even before that although there's nothing specific I can put my finger on. I do know however that it's a very, very long time since he's been the boy, and then the man, who was by my side for years and years. People tell me I'm coping well, sometimes they tell me I'm a saint (which is so far from the truth you wouldn't believe it) but I did struggle for a very long time. However with that realisation came some peace, an acknowledgement that I was already surviving without him even before the diagnosis and that now, in some ways, I'm thriving, that I can do things for myself, that I can cope with whatever life throws at us and that my wellbeing doesn't rely on anyone other than me and that has been all been incredibly liberating. If you're new on this dementia journey then I understand your grief but if you're moving along the road then I hope this gives you some confidence that things will begin to get better when you start to recognise your own abilities and achievements and they are there even if sometimes you have to dig deep to find them.
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