Here's my "why."
I am a millennial Caregiver. Both my mother and grandmother had Alzheimer's. My mother began showing signs at 55 while my grandmother at 75 had already been diagnosed. As an only child left to care for both in my 20s. I'm always thinking about my mental decline and because of this, I've created a love, love relationship with my brain. I actively work to nurture it because the fear of losing my mind is very near to me. I had so many reasons why I wanted to become a writer before my mother's diagnosis. But now, I put all my effort into making sure this particular story is being told. I believe in the depths of my soul that the story of the Alzheimer's caregiver and the peril that awaits us as a society is imminent and I don't know how long I have to get it out.
Indeed, you move differently when there is a clock attached to the capabilities of your mind. Few understand the loss that is experienced when you slowly lose a person to this disease. The person with Alzheimer's experiences a loss of memory, but the caregiver…loses their life. We are approaching an epidemic in this country of people who are being diagnosed at younger and younger ages. We are also living longer and longer. Our infrastructure cannot sustain massive memory loss across multiple age brackets…which is why I began sharing my story. Social media has been a godsend because the crippling isolation that one feels caring for a declining loved one doesn't parallel many other experiences. A parent's death is and will always be difficult, but you don't cease to live your life for years on end, replan your thoughts about having a family, or quit your job over a parent's cancer diagnosis.
I've been working to figure out how to encapsulate this experience because so few understand the heartache and pain that comes from this experience. So I spend my time dissecting every minute of my caregiving experience. It allows me to validate other caregivers who are burned out and allows me to permit other caregivers who feel intense guilt when planning a day for themselves. I began a TikTok (@momofmymom) documenting the journey of caring for my mother. We've gone viral several times since, amassing millions of views. My direct messages are now full of stories from other caregivers, some on the brink of deep depression and suicide, just hoping to find another soul in the world that understands their pain. I understand this pain so well. I once had a week-long migraine while caring for my mother and grandmother, and at my wit's end I drove myself to a mental health facility and broke down in the car crying in the parking lot. So now I use my time as wisely as I can because this is so much bigger than me and I don’t know how much time I have left.