Monday, March 6, 2017

How To Love

While riding a ferry, sliding past glaciers on a magnificent December morning in Alaska, my mind was blown by the following podcast about mental illness:

The key to supporting these patients' health and wellbeing, it turns out, is not to see them as needing healing or treatment. In other words, they need to be seen as human beings rather than problems requiring solutions. Ironically, strangers are generally more adept at that than family members. 

All of which speaks to a This American Life segment called Rainy Days and Mondys about two improv comedians who stopped trying to fight Alzheimers and embraced their parent's dementia instead.

The question of how to support loved ones experiencing medical conditions has always fascinated me. Brain on Fire made me wonder if I could be an effective advocate in a similar situation, navigating unchartered territory with a sense of what was inside and outside of healthy ranges for those I know best. 

Listening to the podcast episode, What if you lived your life as a ghost?, gave me chills because it echoed so much of Evan's experience with traumatic brain injury. Making peace with the car accident that reshaped his body and thus his life has been a process that has spanned decades. 

The journey is ultimately his. And yet, because I am his companion, it is also ours. A paradox that asks us how to love and be loved.

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