My Friend Loneliness and me
I think I have always been Lonely. This may sound ridiculous to some and looking for pity to others, but loneliness has played its part in my life nearly every day for so long and constantly over the last ten years.
Looking from the outside at someone being on a tour across the UK for the last three years giving over 650 talks to over 100,000 people, this might be difficult for some to understand.
Since coming home to visit my mum Joan, back in 2007 initially for myself then quickly realising things had changed, and being ill prepared for the changes yet to come, loneliness has been the only constant since then. We, Mum and I became painfully Lonely over the next nearly next nearly 6 years, people who used to phone my mum stopped phoning, and people who used to pop in for a cup of tea no longer popped in.
Living with dementia and Caring for a loved one, can, and often will, do that to you.
Socially, emotionally and financially, life Changes, understanding changes, everyday life opportunities often disappear or become a distant to difficult and far.
Looking back the loneliness then, was just a rehearsal for what was yet to come.
In so many ways, a squeeze on my hand from mum, or a smile from mum's eyes even amongst all that mum was facing took that loneliness away.
My confidence disappeared as a carer, my personal Social skills are in many ways one of the biggest struggles I face.
When my mum passed away loneliness wrapped both its arms around me, with the tightest of grips.
I can stand in crowded rooms and speak to many hundreds and some cases thousands of people about mum, caring, things that made us smile or cry, but that comes from a promise I made to my mum, the amazing people who shared their stores with me, and I hope the hundreds of thousands across the UK facing the same struggles today, that we faced then.
But loneliness has been a constant that I have yet to conquer or shake off. For many reasons, confidence and finance playing leading parts.
I write this sitting at home alone over Christmas for the tenth year in a row (5 with Mum and I alone) with never have been out socially more than a handful of evenings over the last ten years.
In fact there has hardly been a person walked through my front door over the last ten years that was not related to ( when ) caring for My Mum or my work now since.
I love doing what I do, I feel so lucky to speak in rooms every day, to meet people with so much Knowledge , Dedication, Passion and Care, I mean how could you not feel lucky to meet so many people who are part of the greatest Professions ever created. The Profession of care.
I write this not for pity, and not for invites, but I hope to open a door that the people we Work besides, Live beside, Care beside, stand beside and smile beside each day can be lonely.
So in amongst the sharing of presents this year and resolutions for 2018 share the gift of conversations, listening and kindness.
Check your family, friends and neighbours are OK.
A few kind words can help a person more than you might think.
We yet might not have a cure for Dementia, but we can cure and change loneliness,
Loneliness is Not as this blog post is titled, My Friend, but it has been the only constant by my side, every evening, and weekend
Tommy Whitelaw, BCAh,
Hon Master, Open University .Health,Social Care & Policy