This week we revisit one of the first episodes of Safe Space Radio, a conversation with Canadian broadcaster Neil McKenty about his struggles with depression and alcohol. He describes his depression as the result of a collision between his negative ideas about himself and the smooth front of success he had constructed for the world to see. We talk about how sharing his vulnerability was the pivotal step that helped him gain a new feeling of freedom.
This week I talk with therapist and former orchestra conductor Susie Melnick about how depression has affected her work in both professions. We talk about the event that set off her first episode of major depression, one that she struggled with on and off for decades, and about the coping strategies that she used, until finally deciding she needed to change careers. We then discuss what it’s like to be a therapist while dealing with depression, and how her experience can be an asset when working with people who have the same illness.
Transgender teen Aiden talks about how he entered high school as a girl, gradually came to understand that he had always been a boy, and how he made that transformation real.
A conversation with Liz Havu about the experience of caring for her mother, who has both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. She discusses the progression of her mother’s illness, and the corresponding adjustments and sacrifices she’s had to make in her own life in order to be her mother’s primary caregiver. She talks about her promise never to put her mother in a nursing home, and how this decision has brought her family together in more ways than one.
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.