This first show in our series on the untold stories of dementia is an interview with Dr. Pauline Boss about the experience of ambiguous loss. She explains how dementia often creates a situation in which a person’s body is present, but the mind is absent. For caregivers, this can generate feelings of ambivalence toward the person with dementia, including wishing for this person’s death as a way to resolve the ambiguity. Dr. Boss says that these normal wishes can leave the caregiver feeling guilty and confused, and she stresses that caregivers need community support, starting with a recognition of the ambiguous loss that has taken place.
An interview with Cheryl Ramsay, about her two sons, one with schizophrenia who is in treatment and one with an undiagnosed mental illness and addiction who avoids the mental health system. Cheryl describes the gradual evolution of two joyous, outgoing, athletic boys into anxiety, abusing marijuana, paranoia, trouble with the law, hearing voices, multiple hospitalizations, and either group home living or homelessness. She describes the deep self-doubt she feels about whether she somehow could have made a difference at each step of the way. She notes, that she and her husband never imagined that mental illness would enter their family and how their thinking has evolved to understanding that mental illness can happen to anyone, even loving, involved, law-abiding parents. She describes NAMI’s (National Alliance on Mental Illness) family to family groups and how they made a huge difference to her in connecting with other families going through the same struggles. The can be found at www.namimaine.org
An interview with broadcaster, author and former Jesuit Priest, Neil McKenty about how his expectations about aging have matched up with his own experience of growing old. The interview was recorded during the summer of 2010, in Neil’s 85th year of life. He talks about his approach to his own death, his regrets, how sex evolves with age, the evolution of his beliefs about the afterlife, and what he fears most about aging. Neil was an inspiration for the creation of Safe Space, and a consultant to the show since its inception in 2008. We were honored to have his guidance all these years, and his ongoing encouragement to “keep it real.” The show is aired as a tribute to Neil who died on May 12, 2012.
Women’s Postmenopausal Sexuality, an interview with storyteller Judith Black. [Read more…]