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 therapist Isa Mattei on her relationship with her brother, Artie, who had schizophrenia. She describes the way her mother’s fierce determination not to have Artie institutionalized may have both protected him, and kept him very integrated with the family, while also [Read more…]
An anonymous interview with Rachel about her son’s severe depression and multiple suicide attempts. Rachel described the precipitous descent into depression that seemed to swallow her previously sunny, confident, artistic boy. She names the terrible and confusing sense of ambiguous loss [Read more…]
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