I follow Teepa Snow on my Facebook Timeline, and an extract from a publication she is highlighting today is incredibly pertinent. Maureen is low this morning; thinking her life isn’t much fun. I need to ‘up my game’ to help her move forward. She isn’t the type of person to share her deepest thoughts on her condition, and publicly remains in denial. Therefore, I have copied statements from others who have a diagnosis of dementia to help me to revise my Game Plan:
How We Reacted to Our Diagnosis
Everybody is unique, and this news has different meanings for everyone. These are some of our first reactions, and some advice about how to deal with the news:
“The first thing you should know is that it’s not that bad. Everybody thinks it’s horrible, but it’s not that bad.” – Les
“I got the diagnosis and I thought I was going to die, then I thought I might not.” – Les
“Not being sure of my diagnosis… I was so scared…. I didn’t know which way to go.” – Evelyn
“Dementia… I hate that term.” – Elizabeth
“Don’t overreact. Get support. Try to avoid getting sick with worry.” – Elizabeth
“This is a major attack on your confidence. You think ‘This isn’t fair, why me?‘ It helps to talk to others who are going through the same thing — to understand how they are experiencing it.” – Gerrit
“So you have Alzheimer’s. Let’s talk about it.” – Les
There’s no denying it, dementia — even in its early stages — is going to stop you from doing certain things. This is how we felt:
“Some of the simple things I used to do in the past, I just can’t do.”– Gerrit
“I want to do something and I can’t. I want something I can do.”– Evelyn
“Sometimes it’s good to forget about what limits you and find something else to do.” – Les
“My golf game is gone, mostly because of physical limitations.” – Gerrit
“I used to run 3 or 4 times a week and now I can’t. I miss it. The legs just aren’t what they used to be.” – Al
“Being told you should not drive is the first thing everyone thinks is terrible
My Game Plan
I ‘m fortunate that I have had periods of low mood so I can easily empathise with how Maureen is feeling. Having a stroke that has led to dementia isn’t much fun for anyone. However low mood isn’t an illness, it is an affective disorder: a reaction to environment.
During my periods of depression I have been supported by a counsellor who to helped me think my way out of an unhelpful approach to life. Fortunately, I also came across the research of Irving Kirsch; grasped the myth of chemical imbalance, and the shortcomings of antidepressants.
Maureen does not need antidepressants to lift her mood: she needs to change her approach to her environment. Unfortunately, she has not been offered professional support to talk about her condition. My guess is if it was offered she would be reluctant to discuss the consequences of her stroke. This means that it will be largely down to me to help her out of a fairly dark tunnel of despair.
My starting point is to address Gerrit’s point about ‘wanting something to do’. I have to come up with things to do beyond housework. My take on the situation is that Maureen needs to find more fun in her life. What better focus for the day than helping my lovely wife to enjoy herself again. I have one or two things in mind and I will let you know how it goes……