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This week is Dementia Awareness week and so I decided to share something a little more personal than usual. I am a social work student and therefore I come across a lot of people with dementia and often work closely with their family and relatives however for me dementia has hit closer to home. About 5 or 6 years ago my Nana was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease which if you don’t know is a form of dementia or a deterioration of the brain. Most people associate alzheimer’s disease or dementia with memory loss which is one of the big effects it can have, people do begin to lose their short term memory but dementia is so much more than that. Dementia is a disease of the brain and therefore it can effect everything – your speech, the way you behave, your thoughts and feelings and so much more.
Me and my Nana have always been incredibly close, she would often tell me when I was little how special I was to her and how much she loved me because she had been there when I was born (on the bathroom floor, delivered by my Dad who is a doctor thank goodness – sorry Mum!). She was the third one to hold me and I believe the third one after my Mum and Dad to love me the most. We had and still have a beautifully close relationship and I love her very much. She has always been a fun person, as a family we have countless stories of the hilarious things she would say and do. I have amazing memories of jumping up and down on the bed age 7 in a hotel dancing to “Hey Baby” on TV, of watching James Bond with Sean Connery eating malteasers and of spending every summer at Nana’s house in Malvern running around the Malvern hills and eating Nana’s chocolate cake. But as the Alzeihmer’s developed she began to change, she began to become more and more frightened by the fact she couldn’t remember things and her brain wasn’t working the way it used to and she would become angry.
At first we didn’t notice the changes as they started very gradually and as she was getting older we thought she was just becoming forgetful in her old age but soon we began to realise it was more than that. Worrying things would happen like my Nana crashed her car a couple of times and more than once she was found wandering around not knowing where she was luckily by our close friend. My Mum had always been the one looking after my Nana as she lived the closest but as things got worse my Mum had to take care of my Nana a lot more. Now I have grown up and I am a social worker I can see just how difficult my Mum’s job was she was acting as my Nana’s full time carer, social worker and daughter all rolled into one. After having a diagnoses of Alzeihmer’s disease from the doctor it made it a little easier as Nana could be given treatment and help from social services it made such a difference to my Mum that she wasn’t just doing it on her own although she still did a lot of the work.
Eventually we realised Nana couldn’t live on her own any longer, she had to have 24 hour care and so we decided a care home would be best and Mum found an amazing one in the village where she lived for most of her life before my Grandpa died. That was one of the best things my Mum could have done I think for my Nana, once she was looked after 24/7 all her fear went away and she felt safe again causing her to lose her anger completely. It was very strange how the Alzeihmer’s worked it was almost as if the 10 years she’d lived in a retirement flat just a mile down the road from us had completely disappeared from her memory. But she could remember exactly where she used to work and that the post office in the village used to be in a different place and the names of the owners of the shops.
My Nana’s Alzeihmer’s has now progressed so much so that she can’t hold a conversation properly and I’m not sure she knows who I am exactly. I think she realises that I am related to her I just don’t think she knows how. It is extremely hard sometimes and I often miss not being able to tell my Nana things like how I am doing at University or about my boyfriend and I know that when I get married she won’t be able to come or even understand what is happening. But I still get to see my Nana, I still get to have cuddles from her and laugh with her and spend time with her even if sometimes she forgets who I am it is still precious time to me. People think that once you have dementia that is it but since the diagnosis although things have changed we’ve still been able to have fun. The Alzeihmer’s has caused my Nana to be a lot ruder and very silly which can be hilarious and she still enjoys all the things she used to like singing, dancing and eating cake. We have all had to adapt to Nana’s condition but it hasn’t stopped us from having fun with her or loving her just as much as we used to. And I know that deep down inside she still loves me just as much as she always has even if she forgets for a little while.
I wanted to share my own story to help to raise awareness for dementia during dementia awareness week and to offer my support to those of you with family member’s going through the same thing. I know it can be scary and I know its often very difficult but you’re not alone in this. There are so many people out there to help such as Dementia Friends and the Alzeihmer’s Society and if you feel you need help and support please contact them or your doctor. And believe me when I say life doesn’t stop when dementia begins it just takes a different path.
In today’s post I wanted to talk about something a little bit controversial but it is quite close to my heart. I have always been a curvy woman, I am quite busty and I have an hour glass figure, I don’t have a gap between my thighs and yes my belly jiggles a bit. I have always struggled with my body like so many other women and I still struggle now but as I have gotten older it has really started to annoy me. Why do we have such an obsession in society with conformity? Why must every woman look the same? Why must every woman in the media be tall and skinny? The world is made up of millions of beautiful woman of all different shapes, sizes and colours. What makes us beautiful is the fact that we are all unique in our own way. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder which means we all find different things beautiful and so why must we all aspire to one type of beauty?
And I know it is not just me who wants this to change, I recently read this article on Facebook and it made me so happy to see women uniting everywhere to fight against our media telling us how we should look. Whether you are short, tall, slim or curvy whether your have big breasts or little breasts whether your hair is long and thick or short and cropped it doesn’t matter we are all beautiful. Wouldn’t it be amazing if instead of trying to compete with each other we started to build each other up? If we all started to tell each other how beautiful we are instead of being jealous of each other then we might all start to believe it.
I have started to try and change this poisonous attitude towards my body and others that I have grown up with and I really want to encourage you to do the same. Here are a few of the things I am trying to do:
- Stop saying negative things about my body and about my appearance.
- Stop saying negative things about others bodies and appearance no matter whether they are right in front of you or on the screen in front of you or in a magazine.
- When you see something about a person that you like tell them! If it’s some one you don’t know you might want to be a bit careful but if you are at school or uni or work and you see some one wearing a nice scarf or you like their hair tell them! It might give them a little bit of extra confidence that day and it just encourages each other.
- This is the big one for me – stop saying negative comments around the younger generation. Why have we grown up with the idea that its okay to say such nasty things about our own bodies? Because we saw our mums, our sisters, our grandma’s e.t.c doing the same. I don’t want my future child boy or girl to grow up thinking its okay to talk about your body like that or for them to begin copying my behaviour.
Today’s post is another personal one but I am hoping that by sharing it some of you will have had or are having the same experience and in that respect we can help each other a little bit. Today I am going to talk about how throughout my life and now I have struggled massively with what I am supposed to do with my life. This has and still is one of my biggest struggles and it has taken me quite a while to realise how much it has effected me throughout my life.
When I was little I loved performing more than anything, it started when I was at church and we would get asked to read passages from the bible or perform little sketches or stand up in front of the congregation and tell them what we had done that morning in Sunday school. I got used to standing on a stage and in school I began to act more and more. By the time I was 16 I had performed in multiple musical productions at school, competed in drama competitions and achieved my grade 8 in Speech and Drama and over the years I had told everyone that this was it. This was my big dream to be a professional actress on the stage and hopefully one day on the screen. I was then cast as the leading role in West Side Story at the biggest theatre in Liverpool. This was my dream, the chance to be the star of the show to perform in a real theatre in a proper show in front of thousands of people each night.
It was absolutely amazing and I loved every minute but when it was all over it soon dawned on me that this wasn’t actually what I wanted to do. I couldn’t do this as a job every day, although I loved it I felt like something was missing – it just wasn’t right. Once I had that realisation my world started to fall apart a little. I had decided to go to uni and study something I enjoyed that wasn’t drama so that I would have a sensible degree to fall back on when there weren’t enough acting jobs around. My plan had been to act as much as I could at uni and then go on to do a year at LAMDA or RADA but now that plan was completely ruined and I was stuck with the realisation that I had no idea at all what I wanted to do with my life. I had a place at university to study archaeology and ancient history but I didn’t want to be an archaeologist I wasn’t even sure I would enjoy studying ancient history. I was totally stumped.
I then spent a gap year doing amazing things trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life but unfortunately I still had no idea. I decided I wanted to go into fundraising and so went to university to study Events Management which made me very unhappy and so after a year I left. I am now at university studying Social Work. This year has been amazing, I have met my boyfriend who I love very much and I have made amazing friends and most importantly I have grown in my faith in a way I never thought I would. I have changed a lot and I hope for the better. But I often think that I don’t actually want to be at university, I know I am so lucky to have that opportunity and so many others don’t get to go but I am not sure it is right for me. I think getting a degree is going to be very useful for me and so I intend to carry on for the next 2 years because I know that it will go quickly. I also feel whilst I am at uni I have a ridiculous amount of spare time and it is that spare time this year that has allowed self exploration and this has helped to make me aware of what I want in life.
I have begun to realise that I have allowed my life to be dictated to me. I believed my school and my family when they told me the only way is to go to university, the only way to be happy and succeed is to earn enough money to buy cars, and a house and go on holiday. I don’t blame them for this as we live in a society that measures success and happiness with how much profit we make. It values profit above everything else and that is not something that I believe in. I want to collect moments not things, I want to value people and experiences over money and I want to try to and make a difference in our world.
I have had such a difficult time trying to figure out what I want to do with my life and I still don’t know and for years and years I believed that this made me a failure. I had failed at one of the most important parts of life because I did not want to go to university and I did not want to earn a lot of money. But no longer will I tell myself I am a failure and no longer will I let our society dictate to me the way I must behave. I won’t feel upset or worried because I don’t want a normal 9 to 5 job and I won’t let anyone force me into doing it. I don’t know what the next few years hold but I know it is time to take my life into my own hands and do what I want to do. I love the quote above from Oscar Wilde as it reminds me to say no, I don’t just have to exist I can live if I choose to. It inspires me to make sure I do live to take the opportunities and not to waste this amazing life that we have.
What does this quote mean to you? What is your dream?
Bye for now!
“We may be a small country, but we’re a great one, too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham’s right foot. David Beckham’s left foot, come to that.” The Prime minister – Love Actually
Proud To Be English…..
Today is St George’s day, a day that we don’t seem to take all that seriously here in England and yet it is a day in which we can and should celebrate being English. I love England, I love the beautiful countryside, the idea we have that tea has magical healing powers that can heal whatever ales you and the constant need to apologise to everyone and everything we come into contact with. I love that we have a royal family and an amazing history that spans back thousands of years with castles and palaces and little cottages meticulously preserved by the National Trust or English Heritage so that we and future generations can enjoy a piece of history. I love that we have birthed some of the greatest writers the world has ever known, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, The Bronte sisters, Shakespeare, Hardy, C.S. Lewis, Jk Rowling and so many more. I love the amazing and sometimes baffling food that we are famous for Yorkshire puddings, roast dinners, afternoon tea, jam roly poly, scones and that one of the biggest debates of our time is whether its jam and then cream or cream and then jam.
I love the theatres, the churches, the houses of parliament and Buckingham palace. I love the fact that the English language is a magpie language taking from the languages of others and evolving over hundreds of years to then create words like “spiffing” and “Tally-ho”. I love Bruce Forsythe and Julie Andrews, The Beatles and Paddington Bear, Colin Firth and Miranda Hart. I love taking afternoon tea at Betty’s in York, standing to sing “God Save the Queen” and the way everyone decides to dress as though they were in the Caribbean as soon as the sun pops up to say hello regardless of the fact its only 10 degrees outside.
I love England. I love everything about it. I have been lucky enough to travel to many beautiful and inspiring places where I have seen wonderful things but I find when I return I am always so glad to snuggle back into my comfy cosy England. To put a woolly jumper on, snuggle down into a big leather arm chair with a cup of tea and a bun, turn the television on to Strictly Come dancing and make a passing remark about the weather. Ahhh it’s good to be English.
Bye for now!