How do you know you are sane?

28 Mar 2019

Age, my husband's illness, much attendance at a care home and a nasty scare of my own have made me, perhaps, hyper-aware of my mental state.

I was reminded by watching, again, a film called 'A Private Function'. It is set in 1947, and the town worthies wish to give a dinner to celebrate the Royal Wedding, but what to eat? They decide to clandestinely fatten a pig. A naïve chiropodist (Michael Palin) and his bossy wife (Maggie Smith) decide to steal the pig. Her mother is played by Liz Smith. Her constant fear is being 'put away', if anybody official comes near she gives the name of the Prime Minister and recites her 'times tables'.

My husband had regular check-ups at the geriatric clinic, usually having to give the name of the Prime Minister, names of his children, and being given a paper of a few words or pictures to memorise. The last time he went was by ambulance, he was so terrified he did not know his own name when he got there, harrowing.

Do you test your memory/faculties by joining MENSA, doing crosswords, SUDOKU, putting names to old photos? I have a photo of my form at grammar school when I was 11 (72 years ago) I can virtually name all the girls. When I wrote my last blog 'Sunday b****y Sunday' I found I could remember most of the people in the village cited. But I cannot remember poetry, music or dance steps.

I have four computers at the moment, and they are bending my mind. I use one lap-top as an internet radio, fed up with actual radios breaking down. I am a fast touch typist, but kept getting the wrong programme when I typed in a change. Lots of swearing later, I found the thing had, for some reason, turned the keyboard from English to French. But I had to work it out, quite pleased.

Tomorrow I am going to resume my historical research, by topping up my data-base for the town from the censuses, starting with 1851. The lap-top I use for this is older, with a different opening, and start-up. I have forgotten how to 'save' from data-base to USB - instruction books, even if any use, are buried under mountains of stuff while major works proceed.

A real 'scary' thing is I will sometimes speak to the electricians in Italian – we are all surprised. Scary, because people with dementia can 'speak in tongues'. I don't know whether it is a deep longing to visit Italy again, or that, stuck for the French for some highly intricate technical vocabulary my brain offers up Italian as a substitute.

A friend, quite a bit younger, admits that she will check several times before going to bed that everything is secure. She lives in a near comatose village, but lived many years in Zimbabwe, perhaps it became a habit.

I am trying, by following a rigid routine, to avoid this habit, too disturbing.

Does depression provoke these fears? Or just the misery.

The Gardener

A Moodscope member.

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