The Beast in My Head

Hosting guest authors is always a pleasure and never – thank heavens! – a chore. Today, I get to put some a short piece of work from Jessica Rhodes, a writer who lives in the same area as me and whom I got to meet for the first time in 2016 when I interviewed her for the Thanet Writers Youtube page.

I’m very glad to be able host some of her writing on my page, and here’s her piece – unabridged, unedited, and very powerful.

What must it feel like to know that you’re losing your mind? That the people who once were familiar will one day become long-distant memories, their faces akin to a stranger’s, their voices concerned at the loss of your memory? Sometimes I think it must feel like a death sentence, except you only have guides as to when it will end. Nothing is certain, especially with Alzheimer’s, and losing your mind is just par for the course. What worries me most is that I could be one of them. Dementia strikes anyone, with no compunction or consideration for the ones left behind.

A day can go by with no hiccups, then bam! Dementia strikes, and your life’s upside down. Loved ones walk out on you, or cry, or try to deny that it’s happening, but it gets us all in the end, even the lucky ones. Sometimes I wonder if I’m one of the lucky ones, or if dementia’s just biding its time til I’m weaker. Then it can strike, its merciless pain going right to the heart of my family to tear us apart, familiar faces now jumbles of memories and names that just no longer fit.

Dementia is cruel. It kills without mercy, devastates lives, and wipes out so many so fast. The death toll keeps rising, the bodies pile up, and thousands of families grieve for a person who no longer knows them. We become shells of ourselves, you see, useless husks with no sense of direction or purpose beyond our own pain. Life has no meaning, no beauty, no ending – it’s just a steam of confusion couple with hatred for a disease we cannot recall. The irony is that we never remember we have it – we’re told what it is, then forget it a few moments later.

That’s what I know of dementia – it’s cruel, it is heart-breaking, and I do not have it.


One comment

  • Maz  

    A very thought provoking piece Jessica. I’d just like to add some of my thoughts on the subject. Up until I was fifty eight I had no cause to give dementia a second thought . Nobody in my family had it , although I did know people who were in the early stages who knew they had it and also some who were caring for loved ones who were much further along the dark road .
    Anyway, when I was fifty eight, I had a stroke. I have recovered remarkably well and am now sixty two and enjoying life. But something that a doctor told me after an MRI scan has haunted me for these past four years. He said that the scan showed I has small vessel disease if the brain and that it might in time result in me having vascular dementia. I wish that he had been on holiday that day because that has not left my mind since.
    I have taken more notice of what happens with dementia, though and find certain things very interesting. For instance, often a person with dementia, although not able to recall what they had for breakfast, will remember things from way back in their past. Songs are a good example of this . And they come to life when we can bring them to where their mind is. I’ve seen this first hand in a home for people with dementia where I went with a group from church to sing songs for an afternoon every week. Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, or any music that they grew up with. Some, who were otherwise staring into space came to life and thoroughly enjoyed their two hours.
    So, coming back to my story, that made me think and I’ve told my children , all nine of them that if I do get dementia that they will have to do the same for me. I might not remember them but they have to find where my mind is and meet me there.

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