Many days it feels like I am drowning from the symptoms of dementia, and last night my husband and I were talking about the changes that are taking place again, and the fear we both feel when I might not be able to keep myself afloat. It is not the most comfortable emotional journey, constantly feeling like I am being pulled under the current, swirling around almost out of control, people looking on but basically helpless to intervene. My husband feels helpless much of the time, and I know he also feels like he is failing me not being able to ‘fix’ things. It is definitely a male trait to want to fix things, although I am very much like that too. The notion of drowning might be why I have previously titled my personal story My Unseen Disappearing World, as when you are drowning, you also disappear.
Much of the time, I feel like a swan, calm on the surface but padding faster and faster below the surface to stay afloat. In the Inspector Lynley murder series books, he uses that analogy to describe his mother who he suspects has Alzheimer’s disease. Christine Bryden uses the same analogy in her book Dancing with Dementia, and it perfectly describes what it looks like to others. Some days it is becoming like a mother swan, flapping her wings on the surface to protect her offspring, and the struggle to fight the symptoms of dementia is becoming more obvious to others. The paddling is imperative to maintain my dignity, as it is humiliating to show the symptoms.
This image depicts perfectly why I continue to blog. Blogging is helping me stay connected, it is building up my memory bank, my personal repertoire of stories and activities. It helps my family and friends stay connected to my world, on the days when I cannot easily express it to them. Blogging has also pushed my brain cells, worked my neuroplasticity hard as it constantly forces me to go to the dictionary to look up words, forces me to use a calculator over and over and over, it forces me to review grammar and language in general, the part of my world that has been the most impaired. I always wanted to be a writer, and thinking, writing and then blogging has allowed me to continue to live a positive, actively engaged and meaningful life. And, it helps me keep paddling below the surface, keeping me afloat to stop me from drowning.