Battle with Dementia – Garden Psychology
It’s total shit, right? You spend all your life working your arse off to provide for your family. And then you can’t even remember what you do with a fork.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I went through when they told me my dad had dementia. Even now, as I rehash the visit I had with dad today, I struggle to comprehend how a man who once adored his daughter so much, doesn’t even raise his eyes to look at me. I wish it stopped there and that was my only sad thought on the subject. But it’s something I live every day and every night and it never goes away.
Every time dad pops into my head, I feel the guilt. Thinking about how he’s not in his ‘real’ home and in his garden growing his lettuce which he shared with his neighbours. Imagining how my mum feels every time she sees him, and how I would feel if that was me looking at my husband. Recalling about how I was always the ‘golden child’ in my dad’s eyes, as my brother would say, and how sometimes, I feel-sorry-for-myself that things aren’t like they always were, and how my family is so broken now.
They say you will know when the time is right to put them in care, but you always question yourself and say ‘what if I’m wrong?’. You think that once that moment comes, it’s all going to get better, but it doesn’t.
When I look back now at what has happened to my dad and his precious life, It’s the saddest feeling I have ever known. There are things that happen in your life where you are instrumental in their existence, and then there are circumstances like this, where you have no control at all. It’s here that my garden became my life line.
I’m not sure at what point I realised what my garden was doing for my mental health, but I know that without it, Family Garden Life would not exist. Almost every time I fell in a heap, my husband would steer me out into my garden. It was like putting me on a drip and bringing me back to life. Having my hands in the dirt, surrounded by nature in the peace and quiet, delivered a clarity that was unprecedented. It was somewhere I could make a difference and in an almost spiritual way, Mother Nature was like my guardian.
When I realised just how connected I was to my garden, I decided it was something I needed to do all the time and share my passion for gardening with other mums. I wanted to provide a platform where families could start their own garden life and enjoy the amazing benefits it has to offer, especially life balance.
My struggle with dementia continues every day but what I have come to appreciate over time, is that you have to go through some things in life to understand them and accept them for what they are. You can’t prepare for dementia, just like you can never prepare for the loss of a parent, but for me, I know that I have my special place in my garden when I need to rebalance and reset my mind, my body and my soul.
Me & my dad: December 2016
Love you dad xx
It’s taken me over 12 months to be able to write about how I feel. Please take this opportunity to share your story on garden psychology and how your garden has impacted on your life. We would love to hear from you. Kindly comment below.
For support in Australia:
National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500