Tru here. One of the things I appreciated most about the movie “Still Alice” was simply the title. Recently I was asked about this feeling of inner conflict; “Am I Still Me?”
I consider this a communication issue; communication with self or self-identity. While I am definitely not a professional, I have experience with my disabilities. The more my disabilities advanced, the more often I felt like I was the “stand-in” actress trying to “stand-in” for the person I was before disability.
So often, perception of who a person is (and often our perception of self) is dependent on actions; what they (or we) SAY and DO, both negative and positive. But, with our constantly changing cognitive dis-Abilities, those activities are constantly changing … and we do not feel like the same person. Hopefully we will discover other activities to enjoy and feel are of value to the world around us, helping to partially fill the empty hole from activities we can no longer take part in. Another aspect is the frustration, anger, and fear caused from experiencing these symptoms, and from the need to prepare our surroundings and our family (structurally, financially and emotionally) for the expected future.
It seems to me that the more severe the dis-Abilities become, the greater this inner conflict of self-identity. That is why it bothers me so very much when folks say “but she is mostly gone now” or some of the other phrases. ((grr-r-r-r)) The abilities change, the interests change, and the emotions change, but this also happens as each child becomes an adult. Then, when our impulse/decision filter is dissolving it can create drastic differences in behavior from inability to think things thru before we say or do them. In earlier years, the process of “is this really what I want to say or do right now” and “is this appropriate given the larger perspective” was automatic – I didn’t even think about it. But when losing impulse filter that ability is disappearing. All this creates huge holes of inconsistency in our sense of self.
Ballroom dance was a big part of my life and our family taught dance while I was growing up, so that was a big huge hole during the 10 years when I was living from a wheelchair. Reading was a big part of my life and my sixth grade teacher visited our home to discuss his concerns that I only lived my life thru books — but now my reading comprehension is down to fourth grade and I cannot even understand what I myself write. This is a very big hole for me as a “bookworm”. I was a trustworthy keeper of secrets — until lately. Now if you don’t want me to spill the beans then don’t put them in the pot, because I may not have the filter in order to keep the secrets from overflowing. Now, what goes in my mind all too often comes out my mouth just about immediately.
We all change — but we do not become a different person. The facets of our character are reflected differently with the changing phases, abilities, frustrations, angers and fears, but we are at our basic essence the SAME person — with different aspects emphasized. In my own life that was a very important hurdle, and actually I think recalling some of the exercises during theatre training helped me to finally leap over that hurdle and advance with self-understanding. Analyzing my theatre characters taught me that the roots of the character remain — if you look hard enough.
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