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If you're new to this blog and want some context for it, read this post from the day I announced my Alzheimer's disease and this post about the day I announced I had lost it. For more info, visit my website with my autobiography and all blog entries in chronological order for easier reading to catch up. There's also a sermon on the spiritual lessons I've learned through this journey through my damaged mind.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Life Lessons

Visiting family in Napa CA
So many of the lessons I’m learning with Alzheimer’s would be important at any point in anyone’s life.  Learning to let go of self, to laugh at myself, to recognize my dependence on others and accept their concern and help, to see myself as ordinary, and so on are life-skills we could all use, regardless of our capacities.  So, for instance, I’m learning not to blame myself for my mistakes but to believe that I’m doing the best I can under the circumstances.  Intellectually, I have long believed that all people do the best they can under the circumstances, but it’s only now that I can believe it for myself and not feel guilty for my stupidities, to let them go as life’s inevitabilities.

So many of the lessons I’m learning with Alzheimer’s are life-skills that we can all use at any point in our lives, regardless of our capacities: understanding the pain in hanging on to my “self” and then learning to let go; laughing at myself, gently and without judgment; recognizing my dependence on others and graciously accepting their concern and help; acknowledging that I’m much more ordinary than I often think; learning the boundary between acceptance and pushing forward; and not blaming myself for my mistakes but believing that I’m doing the best I can under the circumstances.  

Last night as we sat around the fireplace, Laurel’s husband James asked what my first symptoms were.  I talked about the various episodes.  Laurel said she’d noticed for quite a while that I was taking longer to do things and that I was losing things.  I’m realizing that this disease has been having an impact for a much longer time than I’ve been aware of.  I’m now beginning to believe that the difficulty I’ve had in writing and a general mild apathy—both of which have bothered me quite a bit—are due to the illness.  Perhaps that’s too convenient an excuse, but it seems to be true nevertheless. 

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