Alzheimer's Disease

My mum has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and is expected to deteriorate faster than the average patient. It has really brought out so many emotions, a cocktail of sorrows and fears to be honest. It has made me realise how much I value the identities of other people especially in relation to my own narrative. I realise that I am (selfishly) annoyed to lose somebody’s ability to validate my memories and my existence. Those closest to us share in our collective narrative. The people who have moulded, influenced and shared in our highs and lows, they become imprinted into our own sense of identity. This identity of being a “son”, a “father”, a “husband”, it such a strange state of affairs. The familial and tribal identities to me seem more concrete and complex than say my vocational identity or atheist identity. I see that I am also binding these people to me in some way. I see that nurturing and being nurtured produces so many other emotional ripples.

My gran (my mum’s mum) had Alzheimer’s as well and eventually had no idea who I was, not even an instinctual inkling that I was a relative. My mum also has bipolar and has also had psychotic breakdowns and in such states she has also not recognised who I am. There is a lot of fear regarding such a state happening to my mum or one day to myself. There is a need to be important, remembered and to be known. These states touch on so many insecurities, from my sense of feeling insignificant to the fear or the inherent uncertainty of this universe. I see, that I care so much about this internal narrative, the story of son of bob so to speak. I fear to lose it and all the trials and tribulations and nuance involved. I have had a small experience of memory loss from being involved in a road traffic accident, mostly it seemed to impair my ability to recall less important memories, especially facts about hobbies and interests. It still bothered me, to know that I can be impacted in this way, to know the dependencies of your mind and sense of self, these set of parameters outside of our control determine so much. There is no cloud storage for my memories yet, no chance to repair what is lost.

I realised that in some way I thought that maybe actualism would provide some super human ability to avoid Alzheimer’s or dementia but I realise that is a silly belief. I am wasting energy on “what ifs”, further more taking me away from being happy and harmless now, the actual point of the method. Rather than making things better now, hypothesising over some imagined benefits in a non existent future.

I am always fascinated with how spiritual people reconcile the idea of having a soul with the the physical. If your soul is this sense of who you feel yourself to be, and everybody I speak to from spiritual and religious backgrounds tell me it is a type of energy, then why is our sense of self impacted by mental health, tumours, brain injury etc. If your sense of self was energy then how would the physical alter it. I don’t understand what other people think they are.

Even as an atheist I had a soul belief at first, I see that this belief has formed from those who have nurtured me and the normalisation of the idea in our culture, literature, entertainment etc. It wasn’t a belief that couldn’t be questioned to me though, I had already dented my belief in a soul before being exposed to actualism. It was these sort of questions about the limitations of the physical that began to dent that belief and my better understanding of biology, chemistry and physics.


Sorry to hear that! I also have a grandmother who has alzheimers and doesn’t recognise me any more. There are times when she’s quite anxious when she first sees me because she’s wondering who this strange man is talking to her! Really sad.

I’m quite a forgetful person already and have concerns about developing it in the future. This has prompted me to start taking my health much more seriously. I’d recommend looking into Functional Medicine if you are interested in preventing Alzheimers. I’m just starting down the rabbit hole but Functional Medicine seems to be the key to preventing all sorts of diseases. It’s not free in the UK, you need to pay for it privately, but well worth the investment IMO. It will probably turn out to be the best money I’ve ever spent.

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Thanks for that information on functional medicine, I am surprised I haven’t heard about this. Sorry to hear about your grandmother too.

Sorry @son_of_bob. I can appreciate how upsetting and disorienting it would be to anticipate losing your mother to dementia. I think it is a strange state of affairs how being and identity is maintained by this network of relationships and memories. Mothers especially are so instrumental in mirroring and creating a stable sense of self for their children that it makes sense that it would really shake you to your bones. Many years ago as a feeling being my mother became depressed and I was taken aback by how strange and destabilising it was for roles to be reversed and for me to be her carer. But this only contributed to my growing perception of self being quite a rickety and provisional thing.

One thing about being actually free is that it is nice to no longer feel so insecure that any crisis or bad news would throw you into a tail spin. It seemed like I was living in a glass house, that was always in danger of having stones thrown at it.

For an actualist, the most difficult times, unwelcome as they are, can become valuable tools which aid ultimately in becoming happier and more harmless and ultimately with self-immolation.

“It seemed like I was living in a glass house, that was always in danger of having stones thrown at it” - That is such a brilliant description of what ‘my’ security is like, always fickle and yet I am desperately driven to cling to it nevertheless.

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Hi @Srinath , thanks for your reply. It is true that these events helped begin to shake my view of a concrete “self”.

I like your glass house description, I realise that is still the reality for me though. Maybe before I was cowering in the corner of that glass house certain those stones were coming and now I at least have the disposition to look out through the glass panes, still worried and insecure but not overwhelmed at least.

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