See Me - Not My Disease
Last updated: July 2023
After I was diagnosed with Alzheimer's many people saw me differently. Immediately different. Five seconds after I told them I had Alzheimer's, they perceived me as different. I always joked that all they could see from that point on was a big "A" on my forehead. I was so taken aback.
How could people I had known for 10 or 15 years suddenly deem me incapable of having my own thoughts? How could they think I wasn't fit to be their friend any longer? How could they think that I immediately couldn't carry on a reasonable conversation?
Living with Alzheimer's is a process
Being diagnosed with Alzheimer's or any non-curable disease changes you. But it is a process. How you handle the process makes all the difference in the world.
I found that I had to fight for my dignity. I had to teach people that I was still a human being and wanted to be treated with respect. I wanted them to remember I was still a friend. I was also still a wife, mother, sister, and aunt. I never thought that was something I would have to remind people.
You can be cognizant of someone's disease, but you need to be mindful of the person living it. The burden of carrying this disease is heavy. Please don’t add to it by treating me as if I don’t exist. I still have feelings.
Things might look a little different now
Despite what you think, I still want to be your friend and share your life. That might look a little different now, but the feelings are the same. While my life is changing in a big way - I try to adjust the best that I can, but that isn't always easy. Sometimes I can't control my emotions or thoughts. The capacity to control my filters diminishes. And yes, that is sometimes hard to hear - but it is much harder on those of us living with Alzheimer's.
When I need friends and family the most
I get to the point I don't want to converse or socialize because of the fear of what I might say will offend you or you'll think "she's crazy", but that is when I need you the most. I used to be upbeat and laugh all the time. That is a lot harder for me to do now. This disease beats you down.
Sometimes I feel like giving up. But I keep putting one foot in front of the other and take it day-by-day. I might not be able to beat this, but I am truly trying to fight through it. My bad days are overshadowing my good days. I want to share those good days with my friends and family.
See me beyond my Alzheimer's diagnosis
Please don't abandon me. It is much harder for me to reach out to you. See me - not what this disease is doing to me.
I realize that now I might not be the person that you would choose to be your friend, but I was once your friend and still want to be.
Remember me and not my disease.
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