Blue for Devils

When I speak to mum today she is confused.  A medical complaint which has been addressed is causing her concern.  She does not remember the names of the relevant bits of her anatomy. She does not understand why the doctor has done what he has done, prescribed what he has prescribed. She does not remember there was ever a complaint. 

‘I had no problem until now.’

But she did. For months. 

I touch only lightly on that; nobody wants to be made to feel they are so forgetful they forgot why they went to the doctor.

Instead I labour next steps.

‘If this doesn’t help, mum, they’ll do that’, I try to reassure.

And, I continue, if that doesn’t work, there’s surgery, ‘but that’s a last resort, ma, nobody wants an operation if they can avoid it.’

No, she agrees, and then, indignantly, sounding hurt: ‘Thank you very much for explaining all that to me, that’s very helpful. Nobody has bothered to explain any of that before. Nobody is listening to me’.

Oh but we are, mum.

We have explained. And we are listening.

But you don’t hear. Because you can’t remember.

And all I can think today is that Dementia is a bitch.


Last night I watched What They Had on Netflix.

I sometimes think I can learn something from these sorts of things: book and films that depict other people’s experience of all this. 

Blythe Danner’s interpretation of a woman succumbing to what mum is succumbing to made me weep. The same sweetly, softly, fraying falling apart. 

So I learned Dementia is a bitch for everybody.


When I walk this evening the sky comes out in sympathy with my mood. Sinking and stormy.

And I wonder then: why is gloom called Blue. 

Because, I discover later, it is named for the 17th-century expression ‘blue devils’ after the hallucinations that come with severe alcohol withdrawal.  With time the reference was blurred, the devils disappeared and in their stead Blues morphed as depression.

Demens, for dementia, and devils for depression.

All I hear is demons.

One Response to “Blue for Devils”

  1. tamsinhickson Says:

    It really is a bitch for everybody. Dad has been falling apart recently and it’s hard not to fray apart in parallel with him. I’ve been thinking of watching Supernova…but I watched The Father last week and I’m not sure I’m strong enough for another dose… I’ll add What They Had to my list of things to watch when feeling strong.

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