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Professional with dementia on disablity
May 15, 2001

My healthy friends seem to think I'm on vacation. My sick friends are soon to be all gone (four more have died in the last six months). It seems I'm slowly driving the love of my life (and the last 15 years) to drink. I've tried group. It seems people don't relate to me nor I to them. I listen. I have empathy. I did hold the most beautiful man I've ever seen, I've ever known, while he died (50 years old, 60 pounds and blind-CMV...). So in a way my issue does seem trival: What to do for someone who's gone to school for 20 years and then gets upset when they can't function in their chosen profession...? Geez. I'd volunteer, but I'm not good on phones. I'm not good with strangers. And I don't drive.

Thanks for letting me vent and thanks for your answer.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I am concerned about several things. First of all you do not have the power to drive anyone to drink. Your concerns are not trivial, but you do set up alot of obstacles for yourself,i.e. I'm not good at this, I don't drive, etc. To me they all sound like excuses. Please stop feeling so much self-pity. Yes, you have been through and are still living through very traumatic times, and that is extraordinarily challenging. But it is precisely how each of us responds to life's challenges that defines our humanity and the kind of person we each are.

I do think forcing yourself to do things that you normally are not good at in order to be of service to some other people would be the very best prescription for helping you take your mind off of your own very real problems. You obviously managed to live your life prior to getting sick not knowing how to drive, and report that you were a successful professional despite this choice on your part. Unless you had a physical disability that prevented you from learning how to drive, living in a part of the country where driving is how people are independent, means that you have possibly always wanted to be taken care of by other people. It sounds like that is not happening so well at this point in your life with you having buried so many friends and your partner. It may be time for you to see that there are other people with greater needs than your own and helping them is the very best way to gain some much needed perspective on your own life, problems and what is important in life. Try to stretch, and see if it does not result in improving your mental and emotional outlook as well as your quality of life. Michael Shernoff, MSW



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