Lost the plot?

I haven’t written for several weeks. It’s been Christmas and I’ve been waiting for my head to clear.

Having family here, in segments other than on the actual “day”, was lovely but long winded. And I did withdraw much more than in previous years. Having spent so many hours on my own while others talked, spoke, laughed, drank, it was impossible to switch on joviality for an hour at the table.

I remember with shame one particular and hurtful comment I made, blurting out a rudeness wholly unnecessary. I don’t know what made me do it.

Now I am beginning to get the pre-spring surge of new growth in my blood. Pruning roses and thornless blackberries. Digging out dahlias and gladioli for replanting in March in the new year’s plan.

My friend Dory is getting out in her still new allotment too. I like to think she is digging while I am, working side by side in our favourite places. As lock-up goes on I get more and more warmth from my DEEP friends. Meeting each week, often twice in different groups, chatting, joking, laughing…they are the light in the darkness when I close my eyes.

Last week I joined a meeting with a different DEEP zoom group. All lovely people, but with different things to talk about. Diverse, divergent thinking is good: it corrects the course you can veer onto when only talking to those you know well. Like always reading the same newspaper, you need the other perspectives too.

I was jolted back into my previous world of campaigning, of anger and frustration, this time over diagnosis variation. A person had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago, then told last year that it was wrong…he did not have dementia, just anxiety and depression. One consultant might say dementia, another depression. A scan might show change, but tests show nothing.

Two streams of thought flowed into me during this meeting. First, that I ought to be still campaigning but just don’t want to do it any more; second, that diagnosis of dementia is incredibly complex and still quite subjective. The more I read the more I understand this, and the less I feel I should judge. On services’ capacity, support and understanding across health and social care…yes, I will gladly express my criticism. On individual diagnosis, maybe less so.

Getting back to campaigning, I simply no longer want to feel angry and frustrated. I know I should be trying to bang heads together to get change, but it has been such a thankless, fruitless and upsetting task that I simply cannot restart that engine. Hence my withdrawal from dementia friends and communities engagement. It’s like a third and final stage retirement. The first was stepping down to part time working, the second stopping paid work altogether, but doing lots of unpaid stuff.

This is the third step, into letting the world go by, being a commentator more than an activist, and just living in my world of friends and outdoors. I love my new carving hobby, and I’m ready to start sowing seeds in February.

But more than all this, I love my zoom meetings with my bestest friends. I love to take the piss and see them laugh. And I love to feel loved by them. You know who you are.

As I hinted earlier, there are drawbacks to zooming only with chosen friends. Yesterday a local villager called to talk, outside (bloody cold), about her recently dead husband. Of course I listened sympathetically, knowing she just needed to vent, to replay, to reorganise her thoughts and feelings…

But I also thought, I really do not want this. She is not and will not be a friend, just a local acquaintance. We do not share similar views of the world, and I now find it harder to withstand being shaken around by people I don’t agree with. It’s like I want to just be in my own cosy and probably prejudiced escape room on my own. And invite in those who will not disturb my comfy, comforting thoughts.

That, I think, is a side effect of this isolation. But should I worry? Probably not. Firstly because there is nothing to be gained from worrying. Secondly because we should all ignore those ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ and just do what we choose and want to do.