By Anne F. Balcom
Mom was diagnosed with dementia in 2006. From the moment my parents told my sister and me the news I began losing sleep, a lot of sleep. The worry of “How were we going to get through this?” was eating me up. I would lie in bed at night for hours thinking and crying while my husband and kids were sleeping.
After many sleepless nights, I began getting out of bed in the middle of the night, going to the living room and jotting down my thoughts in a journal. I had so many thoughts and concerns that I could not write as fast as my thoughts were coming, so I began to type them. I would print out what I typed and tape it into my journal.
After a while I began wondering if other people who were co-caregivers of family members with dementia were feeling the same as me. I had so many emotions…fear, worry, anger, frustration, and I wrote about it all. ALL of the ugly stuff.
I decided to create a blog. I didn’t really care if anyone read it or not, but I thought it would be a good way to keep family and friends of family current with Mom’s condition, so Dad, my sister and I wouldn’t have to keep retelling what was going on. This is how Dealing with Dementia was born. After Mom passed away, I changed the name to The Blue Velvet Drape: Dealing with Dementia. It truly is my journal.
For years, my father, aunt and I attended monthly support group meetings for family members caring for loved ones with dementia. At one of those meetings, Dad mentioned that I had started keeping a blog of our dementia experiences. The moderator of our support group asked for the link, so she and others could read it.
Months went by, and after she had read my blog she encouraged me to keep writing as she felt it was a good resource for others who were also caregivers. Later she encouraged me to publish my blog. “Oh my gosh”, I thought. “Who would want to buy a book about my family?” I am not a writer by any means; my blog is full of misspelled words and grammatical errors. Regardless, people kept reading, relating and encouraging me about the book. Eventually, my blog reached more than 20,000 views across 12 different countries.
It was 9-10 years before I actually bit the bullet and self-published a book in February 2017. My book IS my blog. It isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s mine and my family’s experience.
My hope for my book is that it is helpful to others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You cannot do it alone.
When thinking of closing my blog after Mom passed away:
Take it for someone who has been in your shoes, writing might be the exact thing you need right now. I found it very therapeutic after my father died. Once a caregiver, always a caregiver; your journey is not over yet. You will find that this campaign will stick with you for quite a while. Write about the after affects you go through, it’s important that others learn from your experiences. There’s a course of recovery that every caregiver should know about.
Stay strong my friend and share your wisdom with others,
-Gary Joseph LeBlanc
I have referred a friend of mine to your blog two weeks ago. She needed a source to learn how to deal with things. I’m glad you are keeping this blog. Even though I haven’t dealt with this, it’s still therapeutic in other ways. –Amy
Don’t close it, Anne…you may need to come back to it someday and it may be that you will want to share this with your children. And like you said, you aren’t finished…take it slow and don’t rush anything right now…I have enjoyed it, although I never commented. I learned a lot, and I appreciate you and how wonderful a daughter you were to your mother. What an inspiration you are. Loving you Anne! ❤
Feedback on Amazon
A wonderful book of the daily trials that families face when dealing with dementia. Book offers insight/guidance on how to deal with situations. A must read!
About the Author:
Anne F. Balcom was born and raised in Louisville, KY. She attended Western Kentucky University from 1984-1988. While she did not graduate from WKU, she later attended the Interior Design Institute at Sullivan College in Louisville getting her Associates of Applied Science degree in Interior Design in 1997. In 2000, she married David, the love of her life. They began growing their family in 2001 with the birth of their daughter, Emma. Their son, Wade came along in 2003. A stay-at-home mom for 12 years, she returned to the fulltime work force in 2013 working for Jefferson County Public Schools as an attendance clerk in an elementary school. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends as well as watching her daughter play soccer and her son run cross country. She has recently started taking painting classes at a locally owned art studio.