I used to have an exceptional memory and I could easily recall the finest of detail workwise. I was always a very patient, empathic person, and I was finding I was getting very frustrated and impatient with people and that wasn’t me at all.
At first, the doctor told me it could be depression - but I knew it wasn’t that. I’d worked with people with depression for many years and I just didn’t feel depressed. I really had to push for further tests because of my age. I had the test with the doctor, and I failed that quite badly in some things. I had to name ten animals and I only got two. If you were to ask me that thing in a normal conversation, I would probably have got 100 but in the test your brain just gets mixed up. In 2020, when I finally got the diagnosis of vascular dementia it came as a real shock, I was 53.
I was in disbelief. Over the years at work, I’d learned a reasonable amount about dementia, in theory. In practice, it’s different. Nothing can really prepare you for being told you have dementia. I was offered a year of support following my diagnosis but when that came to an end, I was left wondering ‘well, now what?’
My life had changed. I used to be immersed in work, getting really involved with in-depth theories and situations and there’s no denying I miss those days. It has affected my confidence a lot too,
Before my diagnosis, I was an outgoing person and loved meeting people. These days I can find it overwhelming, preferring to stick with close family who understand my situation. I’m conscious of losing the conversation thread or becoming unsteady on my feet – it crosses my mind that due to my age, people may think I’m drunk because they don’t associate dementia with younger people.