My name is Wendy Mitchell and I was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia on the 31st July 2014. Who would have thought, on that day of diagnosis, over 3 years ago, that I would now be publishing a book, Somebody I Used to Know? But, on the other hand, why not?
When people hear the word dementia, they often think of the end stages. Well, it has to have a beginning and a middle and I’m someone heading for 4 years into living with the condition. We all had talents before a diagnosis, we don’t suddenly lose all those talents overnight the day we receive that diagnosis. We simply have to adapt them to use in different ways, and with support can often achieve something remarkable.
I wanted to write this book to show people how there is a life to be lived after a devastating diagnosis. Yes, mine was of dementia, but it could apply to any crisis or life changing moment. I wanted to show that with the right positive attitude and support, you can adapt and live a good, if not different, life. So yes, my book should be read by everyone who is affected by dementia or healthcare professionals in the field, but moreover, it should be read by anyone to show them how living in the moment can enhance anyone’s life.
The feedback since the publication of my book in the UK has been overwhelming and humbling. Many people have been touched by my openness. I used to be an extremely private person, but was so shocked at the lack of awareness and lack of understanding that I’ll now shout from the rooftops at every opportunity. My book has enabled me to reach so many more people. Family members have often told me how they’re ashamed to admit their loved one has dementia. My response is to say, “we have a complex brain disease, why on earth should anyone be ashamed?” No one should have to face dementia on their own, least of all through shame or stigma.
I often write of outwitting and outmaneuvering dementia, almost relishing the challenge of the fight. People so often dwell on the losses, on what the future may hold, or on the negatives. Why not instead concentrate on what you CAN still do or what you CAN do, if only differently than before.
Moreover, why dwell on the future? We have no control over what dementia will strip away from us in the future, so why dwell on the matter? Instead, focus on enjoying what you have today. The future will come soon enough and a day spent regretting and in sadness is a day of happiness wasted. I hope you gain knowledge about dementia, but also knowledge about life from reading my book, Somebody I Used to Know.
About the Author
I was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia on the 31st July 2014 at the age of 58 years young. I might not have much of a short-term memory but that’s one date I’ll never forget.
I have 2 daughters and live happily in Yorkshire.
I retired early from the NHS, having worked as a non-clinical team leader for 20 years.
Post diagnosis, I was shocked by the lack of awareness, both in the community and clinical world, so I now spend all my time travelling around the country raising awareness and encouraging others to embrace my passion for research.