dreams and reality

I had one of my ‘favorite’ nightmares last night. It relates to reversal through time.

It starts with my mother being the way she is now, unable to do or remember anything much, but reconciled to it and peaceful (at least most of the time). I am driving her somewhere (usually to a doctor) and on the way, she starts changing. Her eyes get a life of their own, her way of looking gets sharper, her voice gets back its energy and coherence. I need to park to do something (buy something?), and when I return to the car, she’s in the driver’s seat.

At this time, she had become young again (well, around 60+, but that seems young to me given the way she is now). She is impatient with me, she remembers things that must be done (and that I have not done) and I realize that she no longer has dementia. She is, in short, back to being as…well… as energetic about her desires and values and about my mistakes as she used to be. She accuses me of having tortured and imprisoned her for the last few years under the pretense of dementia, and drives the car in a sharp u-turn just to prove how wrong I am, how very evil and scheming, and how competent she is.  Her face is a tight red with anger.

At this point, I wake up, sweating, thinking,  Oh No!!!

It usually takes me a few minutes to adjust back to reality, that dementia is real and irreversible, that what I am doing is the best possible, and with patience and genuine affection (well, at least when I’m not tired or irritated or overwhelmed 🙂

The problem though is, if my mother did reverse, would I be able to feel the same affection for her as I do now? Having got used to a more peaceful person now, could I have taken her older nature, sharp, intelligent, affectionate, but over-assertive (read: authoritative)?

I feel more affection for my mother now than I did earlier, and this nightmare makes me wonder who I am feeling affection for. I loved my mother earlier, too, but that got covered at times with my feeling of irritation and intrusion whenever there was a clash of egos. Now, with her identity and ego fragmented and shredded, my love is more uniform in its visibility. I liked to think I am more peaceful too, but these nightmares highlight that I may still be the insecure, easy to feel irritated person when confronted with the old situations.

The nightmare is often so severe in its impact that when I spend time with my mother just after the nightmare, I am more defensive and easy to irritate. A dream, a dream I know cannot come true, can change me. What would reality do?

And then, there is another thought–if seeing a dream can change my immediate behavior, how much of my current behavior is based on ‘day dreams’ and brooding, and how much of it is true to what the situation actually warrants?

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About Swapna Kishore
I'm a writer, blogger, and resource person for dementia/ caregiving in India. I have also been a dementia caregiver for well over a decade, and am deeply concerned about dementia care in India; on this blog I share my personal caregiving journey, my experiences as a resource person for dementia care, and musings on life, aging, dementia in India, and such sundries. More about me and the work I do for dementia care. For structured information on dementia, for discussions, tools and tips on caregiving issues, for resources in India, and for caregiver interviews, please check my website http://dementiacarenotes.in (or its Hindi version, http://dementiahindi.com). For videos on dementia caregiving (English and Hindi), check the youtube channel here.

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