Wendy Mitchell reflects on her growth as a ‘dementia blogger’

Wendy Mitchell reflects on her growth as a ‘dementia blogger’

Wendy Mitchell at her home in York. 2015

I actually remember the first day that the word ‘blog’ was mentioned……I’d been diagnosed about  2-3 months prior and me and my daughter Gemma were sat in a café somewhere. We were just talking and I happened to mention the fact that I’d like to write a journal of some sort to help me remember things I’d done. It was Gemma who simply said: “You need to write a blog”. Me: “What’s a blog”? And that evening, when we got home, ‘Whichmeamitoday.com’ was born.

It was very basic at the beginning as I thought it would be just me reading it. Gemma set it all up and was my ‘editor’ for many weeks until I got used to how to do things for myself. She spent hours with me, repeating time and time again what I needed to do. She then wrote me a couple of ‘cheat sheets’ for me to refer to each time.

It was also about this time that some family and friends stopped emailing me. Ignorance had led them to believe I must be at the end of my dementia world instead of the beginning. I admit to using the blog as a way of letting them know I was ok and that I could still articulate through typing. I’m not as good on the phone as I can’t think quickly enough, so they probably had a weird telephone conversation with me. I soon saw that they’d signed up to reading my blog and it was only a matter of time before they all got back in touch as now they understood better how dementia was affecting me.

Once I’d passed this hurdle it wasn’t long before I realised the rest of the population had a shocking lack of awareness about dementia. I began to be invited to speak and write about my experience of living with dementia. My blog came into its own as a way of helping me remember what I’d done in the past – it has become my memory. I have calendars and alarms to remind me of future events but my blog is my only way of me knowing what I’ve done in the past. I hadn’t realised the power of the Internet for getting across a message……..My blog was soon being followed in countries far and wide.

I began to realise that some people were ‘amazed’ at how someone with dementia could write a blog. Again it’s enabled me to show that dementia doesn’t affect every part of your brain. Everyone is different. Some people do lose the ability to type and read; I’ve been fortunate. It’s also enabled me to show how dementia has a beginning as well as an end – something often forgotten.

Blogging has allowed me to reach people I might never have reached without the written word. It was and still is simply my memory but it’s very humbling now to have had people in over 100 countries interested in reading my ramblings.

It’s allowed me to come into contact with professionals and change the way they view our world. It’s also enabled me to reach carers who have said how it’s helped them to understand the behaviour of their loved ones. As I’m often saying ‘no one gives you a handbook’ on diagnosis and, when the person receives the diagnosis, the whole family receive the diagnosis as well.

Most importantly it’s enabled me to reach others with dementia and show them how it is possible, with adaptations, to live as positively as possible. As one person kindly commented after reading one of my blogs: “I’m no longer afraid”.

This makes opening up my once very private and personal life seem worthwhile.

Read more at https://whichmeamitoday.wordpress.com/

Wendy Mitchell

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