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  • Neil

We All Went Down to Montreux


Initially I would bang off one of these posts in an hour or so, now I spread the effort over a couple of days, maybe longer. So when I say “today” I might mean “yesterday”, when I say “tomorrow” it may well be “today”. I might write in the present tense which may now be the past tense. As long as I’m coherent then I don’t think it matters much. If I don’t care then you definitely shouldn't care. Anyway back to crafting this post.


Not so long ago I was a brown belt in conversational quick wit and repartee now I struggle to find the correct words. I used to take great pleasure in my ability be able to take a contrary view in a debate just for the fun of it, now it’s hard to stand my ground when discussing those things I actually care about. At least I can still write. I suppose dementia must start a bit like this. Only yesterday I took a completely wrong turn on the way to our regular Thursday Coffee Club. To engage in a meaningful or worthwhile conversation is flippin’ hard going. How hard are we talking? We’re talking “go straight to bed for a rest” hard. At least I can engage in meaningless chat for ages, I think I actually made a career out of it but who’d have thought keeping the cogs turning could be so tiring.


When I ponder the changes I’ve already experienced and those yet to come I begin to understand, in a minor way, how hard it must be for some people to cope, some simply don’t. Thankfully I rarely stand at the edge of the precipice but, occasionally, when I stare into the abyss I can sometimes trace it back to a part of a conversation or even a snippet of someone else's exchange. It does my head in! Thankfully mental health has, in recent years, become a much more acceptable topic of discussion. I spent a good number of years working with and supporting clients with a variety of mental health issues. Perhaps that's why I'm happy to talk about my own issues. Of course I’m pretty easy to diagnose and treat. I take antidepressants every morning and every evening. I haven’t a Scooby what's in them but they definitely work and a bonus side effect is they help with my heavy metal poisoning. So a little bit less ‘Smoke on the Water’.


We’ve come a long way in recent years in accepting disability in general but like all equality issues we still have a long way to go. Here's some interesting stats. This year in England 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind. This week in England 1 in 6 people will report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression). In your lifetime you have a 50/50 chance of having some kind of cancer. And every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer. Sobering statistics. Today I was asked what it felt like to be told I had cancer. I said scared, frightened, disbelief but what I didn’t say was you have a pretty good chance of finding out for yourself.

How things change. When we were young, my brothers and I, if we were behaving particularly badly, were threatened with being