Most Saturdays (for me), I attend a Brain health ‘motivational’ meeting to help us stay focused on being healthy and staying positive. It is hosted by two of the Board members of Dementia Alliance International., for anyone with dementia, or for someone supporting a person with dementia, worried about their own brain health or about deeloping dementia. You don’t have to be a member of DAI.
As many of us have known each other for a few years, it is relatively easy to get off track and therefore off topic, so we decided two weeks ago to start each session with either a section of a book (e.g. Professor Dale Bredesen’s book, The End of Alzheimer’s) or watch a video on brain health to discuss afterwards.
Today we watched a woman called Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain researcher “who studied her own stroke as it happened, and has become a powerful voice for brain recovery. One of the most important messages in this TED Talk for me was that no matter what happens to us, we must seek to find our own nirvana.
Nirvana: “A transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism.”
When diagnosed with dementia or any other critical or chronic illness, many become obsessed with their own suffering, and find it hard to find the positives, or to be grateful for what they still have. Having a Pity party, or as I call it, a dose of PLOM (Poor Little Old Me) disease is normal, but staying there, and trying to drag everyone around you there too, is unhelpful for them, but even more so for the person having the Pity Party. Eventually, people just walk away, as it is to challenging being around negative people when you are well; add in dementia or other personal distress, and it is almost impossible.
From my notes while watching this TED Talk, it may seem we rarely have a choice about what happens to us, but with intention and intelligence, we can choose to be optimistic, rather than gloomy.
“Instead of saying goodbye to your old life, learn to say hello to our new one, and then embrace it.”
“How many brain scientists have been able to study the brain from the inside out? I’ve gotten as much out of this experience of losing my left mind as I have in my entire academic career.” — Jill Bolte Taylor