Sunday, 1 March 2015
Letters & Life stories ,A letter helped me understand
Life stories why I collect and believe in them…
a letter that changed my life; our stories can bring help and understanding to others.
This campaign is based on the life stories, thoughts and opinions of people and there are a few reasons why I collect and believe in them. The stories collected to date have played a huge part in the awareness dialogue with Goverment , Local Government Authorities including motions at councils and reports by SW departments, where they have been the heart and soul of many talks across the care sector, Universities/ colleges, carer centres and beyond. I am now working on an Academic paper and a new Carer Engagement Film, all of which I feel are important in their own way to help raise awareness and understand the life of someone with Dementia and their carer leads.
All of the above is based on our lives in our own words and more importantly I collect life stories because our lives matter. My mum like too many others was to often viewed upon as just a wee woman with dementia and all that she had gone through before had been forgotten and ignored. The greatness of her life was given to little value, time or discussion and that fills me with great sadness. If we use only dementia as a starting point then we cant truly help and understand the best way to interact, encourage and allow people dignity they deserve. So I hope life stories can help tell the whole story and show the impact dementia has on many people lives, if we understand the impact then we recognize how to limit it and give families the best support to love, cherish and succeed.
A letter made me understand
My personal reason for collecting letters and life stories is the fact one letter changed my life…. Before coming back to Glasgow to visit my mum, a visit that ended with my mums diagnosis of dementia and the beginning of a five year struggle to understand and cope, my then long term girlfriend and I had just split in fact I was coming home for mum to put her arms round me as she had done so many times before and made things better. But for the first time I had to truly put my arms round mum as she was in more need of help and support than I was. Both my girlfriend and I travelled constantly with our work and for the last years together and in so many ways my girlfriend tried to tell me how things had to change as we were getting older and never spent any time together, along with settling down and children. The more she tried to discuss our future the less I heard, the more she shouted even in the most intimate of discussions the less I heard. I always seemed to avoid a discussion after all I was happy traveling ,having a great time and used the same excuse, I am just home or I when I get home in 3 months we will fix things .
I got away with this for too long and on my last journey away I was going to America for 3 months I opened my suitcase on arrival and inside found a letter, a letter that broke my heart but that showed the impact of my actions, my inability to listen and selfishness was having on someone’s life. Someone I loved, who gave me so many chances and tried in so many others ways to ask me to just listen or try and understand. On reading that letter I understood more about myself than I had done before and she was right I was affecting and holding back her chance to live the best life she could.
So if a letter can change my life, then maybe it can for many people with Dementia and there carers, which is my personal reason for collecting and believing in them. I hope to take them to whomever needs to read them in order to help people understand how the actions of others can have such and impact on people’s lives and the actions of others can also change lives for the better, to truly help someone you have to take time to listen and understand.
You can share your story at firstname.lastname@example.org
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