I can’t seem to keep the numbers and the variables straight. They seem to have a life of their own.
“my brain ate my homework” – markers & ink on old homework
“old homework” – pencil on notebook paper
“we will not be ignored”
watercolor & pastel on paper
I’m going to have to find a way to represent brain confusion that doesn’t depend on a distorted face.
I plan to take this train wherever it leads me…so who knows. My paintings might get even creepier. I think the paintings give BF the heebie jeebies.
Today for the first time, I googled “young onset dementia,” and I am finally finding accounts written BY people with dementia, rather ABOUT people with dementia. The site https://www.youngdementiauk.org/ is my object of fascination today.
if not me, then who – am i
I can’t find much content aimed at people with early dementia. Most everything is for the poor souls who love people like me.
I am desperate to find other people like me. I want to know:
- how it feels inside their heads
- how it feels in their lives
- tricks they’ve learned for living with a failing brain
- what they’re afraid of, but don’t want to tell their loved ones
- how to manage a medical system that is beyond my grasp
- how to stay as independent as possible for as long as possible
I’ve found a few tips. Eat right, exercise, don’t drink too much. Essentially, advice you would give to any person with any condition. Be careful walking.
It seems like Google is reluctant to say the word “dementia” around me. Like the internet doesn’t want to admit I have a problem, until I’m so far gone that only other people can speak for me.
Please, if you know of any sources created BY PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA, please let me know down below in the REPLY box. It’s lonely out here.
In the meantime, my new creative assignment to my self is to show what it feels like to be me. Above is my first, created today, but really, sometime in the middle of last night (pastel, watercolor pastel, and watercolor paint on paper).
I’m stuck in a way that I can’t fix. I can’t seem to ask for the help I really need. I can’t see a way out of this mess. I just can’t.
This is the personality change I don’t know how to handle. I don’t know what makes me so stuck.
I can’t bear to:
- make a phone call
- to answer the phone
- leave the house even though I know it would make me feel better
- call my friend Luz even though she always makes me feel better and more like me
- walk the dog
- start a project in the house
- think about the laundry or the garbage or…I don’t know. Just trying to think of items to write on this bullet point makes me anxious
- even think about the grocery store
- get out of bed
Anything that requires more than a few steps might seems infinite to me. It’s as if my ability to count is now:
- seventy five point eight six two
And I gotta say, three is a stretch.
To make a phone call…
Usually means I have to leave a message and hope somebody calls me back. If they don’t, it may be a month before I remember to call them again. And the thought of it makes my heart race and my stomach churn.
To answer the phone…
Usually means I have a bill I have forgotten to pay, or there is something wrong with my daughter’s school, or it’s a telemarketer. That’s actually the easy one. I can just hang up. No strings attached.
Otherwise, I have to find my wallet and a credit card, hope it’s not maxed out or otherwise shut down, or write down something I have to do at another time and that’s the worst thing. Because I can’t follow up.
To leave the house…
Messes with my sense of time. I don’t know whether I’ll be back in time for, I don’t know…something I’m supposed to be at home for? To see my kid? To make phone calls during business hours…phone calls that I’m not actually going to make…but if I stay at the house, I might just get one of those fuckers done.
OH HELLLLLLLLLLL I AM FALLING AGAIN
My head is so fuzzy today. I was ok this morning because I was putting off thinking about my responsibilities. Now that I am trying to think about them or write about them, I am starting to fall into the abyss.
Offspring will be home in twenty minutes and then I have to try to be Mom and try not to be so confused and self-absorbed and such a mess.
I can imagine falling down the well, just like a couple days ago…crying for two days straight…the sight of BF’s face when he sees I’ve taken a turn for the worse. I don’t want that again. I need to interrupt this pattern.
I just texted Luz and she is coming over in a little while. Maybe a friendly face…of someone who doesn’t need me to be all that together…will help.
Today I don’t want to die.
BF came over to my house at the end of his day to meet a smiley loving GF, not a snotty sobbing mess. I think he seemed extra happy to see me. I imagine his relief, recognizing the woman he thought he fell in love with.
Here’s the thing, though. What makes today any different from any other day? Why is my psyche not bursting with unendurable pain?
today i did…
Absolutely nothing. I let the phone ring when insurance called about my prescription drug plan. I did not call the Offspring’s school about her absences – unexcused, because of me. I did not sort the stack of mail from the mailbox.
today i ate…
Junk food until Luz came over offering homemade ham soup. Luz brought her dog to play with mine, and the four of us had a nice visit. Luz knows I am buried under depression. I don’t have to fake anything around her.
today i binge-watched
Charmed. All. Day. Long.
today i didn’t…
Kick myself for binge-watching. I don’t know why. Strangest thing.
BF is sleeping next to me, muttering numbers in his sleep. I think his first language is numbers. God I love him so awful much, when I have the clarity of thought. He said tonight “I didn’t get you anything for Valentine’s” and I said “good.” The world of retail doesn’t get to tell me how to treat people.
BF and I will be wearing matching underwear that I ordered online. I’m not against giving things on Valentine’s Day. I’m against being expected to give something.
It’s supposed to be the best underwear in the world. We’ll see about that.
Maybe it was the underwear that turned it around. It’s nice not to want to die.
I asked Luz over to help sort my mail. I can’t make meaningful categories anymore. When I have meaningful categories, I can’t figure out what goes where. And then I put things on the wrong stacks.
Luz helped me sort about six stacks of mail, and we made one important pile of late bills and tax payments.
This was over a week ago. Still have not paid my late bills and tax payments.
I’m losing my ability to adult. I’m ashamed…grateful to those who help and yet still ashamed because I still do not follow through, in spite of the generous gifts of time and caring.
Late fees continue to grow.
I have been saying things like “I don’t want to die, but…” or “I’m not suicidal, but…”
I want to die. I am suicidal. This pain is unbearable.
But I am a single parent. I’m in no danger of hurting myself, because there are things more important than me and my pain. Things like my kid.
Life hurts too much and is too confusing and I am scared all the time. I am scared to tell anybody how much this hurts because I don’t want to share this burden with someone I care about.
I am scared about money because the wealthy mother prefers to take it all with her.
I am scared about ending up alone because I am a fucking basket case in a new relationship. In a new town, in a new state. With a teenager who didn’t want to move, who doesn’t like it here, and who has no other family but me.
I miss being able to paint. But when I try to create art, nothing happens.
I miss getting into a good book. But I have no focus.
I miss laughing. I miss being there for other people. But I have isolated myself so well and for so long that I could go weeks without leaving the house and nobody would notice, except BF. And what a fucking burden this for BF. And I can’t level with him about this…wtf is he going to do with that information?
I think of soaking in a hot bath and just opening a vein…letting go of everything. Pain. Guilt. Despair. Loneliness. Fear. Conflict. Sweet release.
But there shall be no release for me. How fucking selfish would I be, to leave my kid that kind of legacy?
So I don’t know. What’s next? Cry myself to sleep? Wipe my tears, have dinner with BF, pretend that I’m kinda sorta OK?
I have had depression all my life. But I am 55 years old and I have never felt anything like this before. Nothing that lasted beyond a terrible night or so. This is ongoing. It never lets up.
Last week, I called as many people as I could think of, to try to reach out and feel less lonely and I don’t know. It kinda just made me feel worse.
Holy fuck, what a disaster am I.
In most ways, and according to doctors, I am too healthy to worry about whether or not I have Parkinson’s. I am too healthy ohysically, that is.
The changes in my brain are what concern me. I can’t get a doctor to pay attention to my cognitive deficits, even though I am gently losing my ability to take care of my business.
I can see how married people lose more of themselves before noticing. Over time, the spouse takes on more and more responsibilities, and things just kinda keep going. Not so great maybe, but the changes are gradual and can go unnoticed for a long time.
What about single people?
How do single people keep living their lives when their brains start behaving strangely? How do they continue to pay their bills…their taxes…how do they remember to bathe and feed themselves?
I am not so single that I’d fade away without anybody noticing. BF would notice. BF takes me to the grocery store and heats up leftovers and reminds me to eat real meals when we are together. And we are together more days than not.
I feel conspicuously damaged lately, but BF seems not to mind my brokenness too terribly. I think my bad depression days scare him (they sure as shit scare me) and I worry about the damage to us. And my ability to measure the things in my life is fucked. Part of me is always scared.
Scared I f what, I can’t say for sure.
Scared of being alone? Possibly. If I end up truly single again, I might never leave the house…I might subsist on spoonsful of peanut butter…I might go weeks without seeing another soul…I might never wash my hair again.
Am I scared of the pain? That feeling of emotional decimation?But that’s silly. Those feelings really don’t last that long. Do they?
I am scared of ending up alone in this strange place. But the thing is, I was alone in the last strange place too. It was more familiar because I’d been there longer, but it was never home.
My internal landscape is shifting beneath my feet. I can’t keep my footing, literally or metaphorically.
Yes. That sounds right. Losing my footing.