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Somebody I Used to Know: A Memoir

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Somebody I Used to Know: A Memoir PDF, ePub eBook Wendy Mitchell had a busy job with the British National Health Service, raised her two daughters alone, and spent her weekends running and climbing mountains. Then, slowly, a mist settled deep inside the mind she once knew so well, blurring the world around her. She didn't know it then, but dementia was starting to take hold. In 2014, at age fifty-eight, she was diagnosed Wendy Mitchell had a busy job with the British National Health Service, raised her two daughters alone, and spent her weekends running and climbing mountains. Then, slowly, a mist settled deep inside the mind she once knew so well, blurring the world around her. She didn't know it then, but dementia was starting to take hold. In 2014, at age fifty-eight, she was diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer's. Mitchell shares the heartrending story of her cognitive decline and how she has fought to stave it off. What lay ahead of her after the diagnosis was scary and unknowable, but Mitchell was determined and resourceful, and she vowed to outwit the disease for as long as she could. As Mitchell learned to embrace her new life, she began to see her condition as a gift, a chance to experience the world with fresh eyes and to find her own way to make a difference. Even now, her sunny outlook persists: She devotes her time to educating doctors, caregivers, and other people living with dementia, helping to reduce the stigma surrounding this insidious disease. Still living independently, Mitchell now uses Post-it notes and technology to remind her of her routines and has created a "memory room" where she displays photos--with labels--of her daughters, friends, and special places. It is a room where she feels calm and happy, especially on days when the mist descends.

30 review for Somebody I Used to Know: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Best Eggs

    I finished the book and the mystery of how come she couldn't carry on a simple conversation but could write a book was revealed. She could write, the dementia didn't affect her ability with words although there were times when she couldn't recognise the letters on the keyboard. And, of course, there was a ghost writer. The ending reminded me of the last words of the author, Jean-Dominique Bauby, of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a memoir of locked-in syndrome, as he was talking about a cure, I finished the book and the mystery of how come she couldn't carry on a simple conversation but could write a book was revealed. She could write, the dementia didn't affect her ability with words although there were times when she couldn't recognise the letters on the keyboard. And, of course, there was a ghost writer. The ending reminded me of the last words of the author, Jean-Dominique Bauby, of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a memoir of locked-in syndrome, as he was talking about a cure, " We must keep looking. I'll be off now." Wendy Mitchell participates in any kind of research into Alzheimer's, she, us, all of us, must keep looking. ___________ I reread Thomas deBaggio's Losing My Mind: An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer's yesterday. Before that there had been Still Alice and now there is this. It is a brilliantly-written journey through Alzheimer's by the author who has it. What is strange is that she writes of what she forgets, what she loses, when she can't type, yet the writing of the book doesn't deteriorate even though all her other abilities are deteriorating. I'm about a third of the way through. Maybe it will all work itself out. Meanwhile it just feels like the novel Still Alice rather the author going through this. Mystery solved. Ghost writer. GR records now corrected to show this.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    I never thought I would be writing a review of a book, where a woman at the age of 58, diagnosed with early onset dementia, and call it the most inspirational story I have ever read. Of course it's not a story, it is a true happening, Wendy's life now, but one she intends to live to the fullest. The things she does, how she finds ways around her diminish capacity truly fills me with awe. One particular thing she said really hit home, is incredibly motivating, and that is that she is not sufferin I never thought I would be writing a review of a book, where a woman at the age of 58, diagnosed with early onset dementia, and call it the most inspirational story I have ever read. Of course it's not a story, it is a true happening, Wendy's life now, but one she intends to live to the fullest. The things she does, how she finds ways around her diminish capacity truly fills me with awe. One particular thing she said really hit home, is incredibly motivating, and that is that she is not suffering from dementia, she is living with dementia. The key word being living, and she is certainly doing that to the best of her abilities. She can no longer drive, she gets a pink bicycle. She sets alarms on her iPads with things like, take your medicine, eat breakfast, etc. Whatever she can do to make it work for her. She had to retire from her job at The National Health organization, and from experience realizing how little understood and how little help is available to those who like her life a life full of challenges, she travels, with a great deal of preparation, to give talks to students, organizations etc. She was asked to preview the movie, Still Alice, and then invited to attend the premier. She is a strong woman, a courageous woman, has a blog where she posts her daily challenges, of which there are many, more so as time passes. She has not lost her ability for words yet, which with the help of a ghost writer she was able to share her story. Her teo adult daughters, one now a nurse, are a great source of comfort and assistance. Her greatest fear is how this effects them, and of the day she will no longer recognize those two dear faces. Until then, she will continue to find work arounds, and live her life to the fullest. She is truly awe inspiring.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Early onset dementia is scary as f*^k. This is an extremely sensitive and honest perspective of a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 58. Wendy Mitchell found out she had the disease then set about fighting this with every ounce of strength she had. Absolutely, this is such a debilitating disease for not only the afflicted but for the families. I lost my dad to Alzheimer’s last year and my mom is in a nursing home with dementia. It is a disease that creeps up and then tries to corner y Early onset dementia is scary as f*^k. This is an extremely sensitive and honest perspective of a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 58. Wendy Mitchell found out she had the disease then set about fighting this with every ounce of strength she had. Absolutely, this is such a debilitating disease for not only the afflicted but for the families. I lost my dad to Alzheimer’s last year and my mom is in a nursing home with dementia. It is a disease that creeps up and then tries to corner you into its grasp of eating away at the person you once were. Mitchell does such a wonderful job of expressing her fear but also her victories against the losses of her memory. I had no idea a person could live with this for 15-20 years! It certainly gives me hope that one day there will be a cure for this and it definitely provides some great coping mechanisms to fight this bastard of a disease. I’m not sure where you are now, Wendy, but you’ve certainly taught me that there is a beginning, a middle and an end with this progressive brain disease. Respect. 4⭐️

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    As we all know Alzheimer's disease is a horrific and debilitating disease and is normally associated with the elderly, but for some this is not the case as fifty eight year old Wendy Mitchell quickly learned. Somebody I Use to Know is a moving memoir by Wendy Mitchell. Wendy held a busy job at the British National Health Service and in between her busy work load she raised her two beautiful daughters on her own. On the weekends she tried to keep fit by running or sometimes she would go mountain As we all know Alzheimer's disease is a horrific and debilitating disease and is normally associated with the elderly, but for some this is not the case as fifty eight year old Wendy Mitchell quickly learned. Somebody I Use to Know is a moving memoir by Wendy Mitchell. Wendy held a busy job at the British National Health Service and in between her busy work load she raised her two beautiful daughters on her own. On the weekends she tried to keep fit by running or sometimes she would go mountain climbing. Then one day bit by bit, she could see a few changes within herself and she knew something was amiss. As we follow Wendy on an emotional roller coaster we learn exactly how this disease changes Wendy's life and for those who are close to her, friends, family and work colleagues. Having experienced first hand with varying family members I know only too well what an awful disease this really is and whilst reading this book, my heart was going out to Wendy and those close to her. An inspiring and emotional book and one that will remain with me for a long time. Highly recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    This is an inspiring read, a memoir written by Wendy Mitchell who was diagnosed with dementia at the early age of fifty-eight. This book became more significant to me when my father started showing signs of dementia over the last few months. It is still early days for my father and he is still awaiting tests before been diagnosed but many of the things Wendy describes in her book were very enlightening and have helped me personally with my understanding of this awful illness. This book is the firs This is an inspiring read, a memoir written by Wendy Mitchell who was diagnosed with dementia at the early age of fifty-eight. This book became more significant to me when my father started showing signs of dementia over the last few months. It is still early days for my father and he is still awaiting tests before been diagnosed but many of the things Wendy describes in her book were very enlightening and have helped me personally with my understanding of this awful illness. This book is the first book written by a person suffering from dementia and is truly inspirational, thought provoking and a true insight into dementia. Having seen how my fathers mind has deteriorated over such a short time, I can see that this book must have taken so much effort to write and I have nothing but admiration for Wendy.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    ETA: do you want to see Wendy Mitchell? Do you want to know more about her life and her book? Click on the link to The Guardian article below, at the bottom of my review. ******************** Wendy Mitchell, the author of this book, was diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer’s in 2014 at the age of fifty-eight. This is a book about how it is to have Alzheimer's. The author is a remarkable woman--a strong woman with character and guts. She is a woman I highly admire. She has written this book with th ETA: do you want to see Wendy Mitchell? Do you want to know more about her life and her book? Click on the link to The Guardian article below, at the bottom of my review. ******************** Wendy Mitchell, the author of this book, was diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer’s in 2014 at the age of fifty-eight. This is a book about how it is to have Alzheimer's. The author is a remarkable woman--a strong woman with character and guts. She is a woman I highly admire. She has written this book with the help of ghostwriter Anna Wharton. The two together have created a book well worth reading. It is both informative and well written. The reader comes to understand how a person with Alzheimer's experiences the world around them. Due to its topic, I picked it up with trepidation. It turned out to be a captivating and very satisfying read. The prose shifts from the informative and clear to being emotionally expressive or lyrical, depending upon where we are at that point in the book. I am quite simply trying to say that the writing is exceptionally good. It becomes very clear how difficult Wendy’s life has become. She is still struggling with the illness and remains living at home alone, not in a care center. How she manages is carefully explained. This is important because otherwise it would be impossible to believe she would be capable of doing all that she does. For example, a step by step description of what she must do when she travels is detailed. She travels often. Both the difficulties she encounters and how she deals with each are described. One comes to feel great empathy for her. Empathy and admiration too. Despite what she must deal with she is happy. She is fighting for her life, and because she is fighting for it she values it. She plans and thinks about death. She supports assisted suicide. She considers how to best safeguard the needs of her two beloved daughters. They mean the world to her. Divorced many years ago, it is she that has raised them. Memories of Wendy's earlier life with her daughters are peppered throughout. As Wendy becomes more and more confused these memories are a beautiful contrast to her everyday struggle. They serve as gems to be cherished. They add a beautiful touch to the book; they highlight the value of such memories. Such memories might be disregarded by a person without Alzheimer's. Their value, significance and beauty are magnified given the uncertainty of how long they will remain. The inclusion of these memories demonstrates the attention that has been paid to fitting the different parts of the book together in an effective manner. I was scared of reading this book. I did not pick it up with pleasure. I knew it would bring back memories of my own father's Alzheimer’s. It did. I could not but help make comparisons between my father's behavior, what he experienced and how he coped with the illness in comparison to Wendy. I learned aspects of the illness that I was unaware of before. Those with Alzheimer's have a heightened perception of sound. With this knowledge I can now better understand why my father acted as he did at family gatherings and in other situations. The book does not detail how the illness is diagnosed. The book cannot be used as a means of determining if you have the illness yourself. The book does gives tips on how one can cope with problems that arise, and it encourages better treatment for those with Alzheimer’s. The book is beautiful in that although a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is heartrending, the author has not lost hope. She has dedicated herself to improving the life of those with Alzheimer’s rather than moping. She is inspiring. I listened to the audiobook read by Rachel Atkins. She does a fantastic job. You easily hear every word she says, and she uses an inflection that perfectly fits the prose. Fear, hope, sorrow, determination and poignant memories are all perceptively rendered in Atkins’ superlative narration. ************** The Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A remarkable insider’s look at the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Mitchell took several falls while running near her Yorkshire home, but it wasn’t until she had a minor stroke in 2012 that she and her doctors started taking her health problems seriously. In July 2014 she got the dementia diagnosis that finally explained her recurring brain fog. She was 58 years old, and a single mother with two grown daughters and a 20-year career in NHS administration. Having prided herself on her good memory and A remarkable insider’s look at the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Mitchell took several falls while running near her Yorkshire home, but it wasn’t until she had a minor stroke in 2012 that she and her doctors started taking her health problems seriously. In July 2014 she got the dementia diagnosis that finally explained her recurring brain fog. She was 58 years old, and a single mother with two grown daughters and a 20-year career in NHS administration. Having prided herself on her good memory and her efficiency at everything from work scheduling to DIY, she was distressed that she couldn’t cope with a new computer system and was unlikely to recognize the faces or voices of colleagues she’d worked with for years. Less than a year after her diagnosis, she took early retirement – a decision that she feels was forced on her by a system that wasn’t willing to make accommodations for her condition. The book, put together with the help of ghostwriter Anna Wharton, gives a clear sense of progression, of past versus present, and of the workarounds Mitchell uses to outwit her disease. The details and incidents are well chosen to present the everyday challenges of dementia. For instance, baking used to be one of Mitchell’s favorite hobbies, but in an early scene she’s making a cake for a homeless shelter and forgets she’s already added sugar; she weighs in the sugar twice, and the result is inedible. But by the time the book ends, not only can she not prepare herself a meal; she can’t remember to eat unless she sets an alarm on her iPad and barricades herself into the room so she won’t wander off partway through. In occasional italicized passages Mitchell addresses her past self, running through bittersweet memories of all that she used to be able to do: “It amazes me now how you did it, because you didn’t have anyone to help you. You were Mum, Dad, taxi, chef, counsellor, gardener and housekeeper, all rolled into one.” Yet it’s also amazing how much she still manages to do as an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia Friends. She crisscrosses the country to give speeches, attend conferences, and advise universities; she writes a blog and has appeared on radio to promote this book. Like many retired people, she’s found she’s busier than ever, and her engagements help her to feel purposeful and like she’s giving a positive impression of early-stage dementia. No matter that she has to rely on dozens of reminders to self in the form of Post-It notes, iPad alarms and a wall of photographs. This would make an excellent nonfiction pair with Still Alice. The story lines are very similar in places – the incidents while running, the inability to keep baking, and so on. And in fact, Mitchell reviewed the film and attended its London premiere, where she met Julianne Moore. The book is a little too long and gets slightly repetitive, but it is a quick and enjoyable read, and will be valuable to people looking to understand the experience of dementia. Wendy Mitchell is such an inspiring woman. I thank her for her efforts, and wish her well.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Canadian

    Rating: 3.5 Fifty-six-year-old Wendy Mitchell was out for her usual jog when she fell, badly banging and bloodying herself. After seeking medical attention, she returned to the place she’d stumbled, expecting to see a pothole or uneven ground. There was neither. A few days later while out on another run, she fell yet again. Aware that she’d been excessively fatigued and had been experiencing a persistent “sensation of a head half-full of cotton wool”, Mitchell visited her GP. A few weeks later (p Rating: 3.5 Fifty-six-year-old Wendy Mitchell was out for her usual jog when she fell, badly banging and bloodying herself. After seeking medical attention, she returned to the place she’d stumbled, expecting to see a pothole or uneven ground. There was neither. A few days later while out on another run, she fell yet again. Aware that she’d been excessively fatigued and had been experiencing a persistent “sensation of a head half-full of cotton wool”, Mitchell visited her GP. A few weeks later (perhaps)—after she’d been slurring her words at work one day—she checked herself into the local hospital to undergo diagnostics. There was vague talk of a stroke, but test results were basically normal. A neurologist sent her to a clinical psychologist for cognitive testing, who suspected incipient dementia, and, some months later, confirmed it. For some time Mitchell was off work. At the National Health Service, she had been known for the encyclopedic memory and superior organizational skills she brought to the job of scheduling nursing staff at a large hospital in Leeds. When she did finally return to work, she was stymied by her deficits: the computer programs that were the crux and core tools of her work seemed utterly foreign to her. The phone calls from other NHS staff and administrators—a regular part of her work, easily and automatically managed in the past—were completely discombobulating. Often callers did not identify themselves; they spoke too fast, and rarely supplied context details, assuming that Mitchell already had them at her fingertips. Eventually, of course, she told her supervisors and then her colleagues about her diagnosis. Her team attempted to make work accommodations for a time, but these were insufficient to compensate for the cognitive losses. Mitchell was forced by her disease into early retirement. Written mostly in the first-person present tense, apparently to underscore Mitchell’s living day by day with the disease, the main text of SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW is occasionally broken up by italicized letters written to her former self. These elegiac letters are addressed to “you”—another person, not herself— someone she was once intimately acquainted with, now gone. “I know life wasn’t easy for you,” she begins one of these messages; “I know life was lonely. I know you worked hard to hide these things from the girls [Mitchell’s daughters], painting a smile on your face and being determined not to let it slip.I remember that even if you did a good job of hiding it from others by making a joke, too proud to let it slip, and never in front of the girls, life was difficult.” While I understand the author and co-writer Anna Wharton’s desire to communicate Mitchell’s sense of the loss of her former self as well as some of her backstory, I found this authorial device contrived and tedious. People don’t address themselves in this artificial way. I also dislike present-tense tellings, which I understand are intended to bring immediacy to a narrative, but which often end up sounding forced and unnatural. Extraneous details are inevitably included, apparently to bring a novelistic quality to the text or to help readers better visualize scenes. More often than not, though, the details turn into text filler and padding. For example, on page 67, we read: “my eyes fall on . . . a Post-it note: Book dentist appointment. I sigh and roll my eyes” and on page 68: “something inside goes cold, a worry starts to whittle away. I feel my eyebrows knit together into a question mark . . .” Really? I don’t think many people notice the movements of their eyes and the “knitting” of their eyebrows. Imagining the latter as a punctuation mark was a bit too fanciful for me. Unfortunately, these unnecessary bodily play-by-plays populate the book. They are silly and detract from an important narrative that would be better served by a simple, plain telling. Mitchell’s memoir is valuable in that it gives readers a good sense of the feel of Alzheimer’s as it encroaches. I was not surprised to read of Mitchell’s sense, before the diagnosis, of there being something “not quite right”, a general, inexplicable cognitive clouding. What was surprising and alarming to read about were the times in which she would completely blank out. At work one day, for instance, she was, for a short period of time, completely engulfed in a fog. Panicked “by a brain gone AWOL”, she moved through a corridor to the bathroom and sat on a toilet seat “Waiting for the world to clear. Waiting for time to pass.” Until I read this book, I was also unaware of the clumsiness and incoordination associated with the disease and the visual hallucinations that can occur. Mitchell describes how she tries to find meaning after her devastating diagnosis. (She bakes cakes for a homeless shelter—until she can no longer follow recipes; she writes a blog; she rides a bright pink bike along a special route that includes none of the right turns that appear to hijack her brain.) A great deal of meaning is found in advocacy work and participating in research, which “means I’m contributing to changing the future for my daughters . . . so that one day a diagnosis won’t be filled with emptiness, but with hope of a cure and better understanding and conditions in care homes.” Life is oddly “busier now, more varied and challenging than it ever was when I was at work”, she observes at one point. To Mitchell’s surprise, she quite suddenly overcomes a lifelong fear of animals (cats and dogs), recognizing that her life has become more like theirs: lived in the present moment. She also finds that positive transformation, even personal growth, can occur in those diagnosed with dementia. For example, for most of her life, she had been “an intensely private person”: retiring, shy, a listener. However, as she begins to attend support groups and involve herself in Alzheimer’s organizations, she discovers a new, more open, and social self. About her meeting Julianne Moore, star of the film STILL ALICE, Mitchell writes: “for a moment, I have that strange feeling again, as if Alzheimer’s is a gift, as if we could all learn something from the harsh lessons it teaches.” I admit that I was sometimes skeptical of this kind of gratitude. Maybe, though, as Mitchell herself notes, there is “nothing wrong in making a list of the advantages of having Alzheimer’s. Perhaps it might even help.” Other topics addressed in the memoir include the medical profession and the media’s negative and limiting language about dementia and the effect this kind of language has on patients; the care-givers’ burden, including resentment and guilt; the impact of dementia on friendships; medications; challenges the cognitively impaired experience in the home (mirrors, TV screens, cupboard and closet doors are particularly problematic); how modern technology (i-pads and cell phones) can assist; and finally, the awkward but important discussions with family about what the future will inevitably bring. Mitchell emphasizes throughout that her daughters are her great loves and that she never wants them to become her caregivers. In some respects, however, they already are—though at the time of the book’s writing, at a distance. The only other memoir I’ve read from the point of view of a person living with dementia is Gerda Saunders’s MEMORY’S LAST BREATH—a very different book from Mitchell’s, and one in which the author attempted to address the nature of memory itself, how recollections are transformed, remade, each time we retrieve them. Really, when you think of it, it’s a pretty amazing thing that a memoir of any kind can be cobbled together when an author’s brain is failing. As people live longer, more and more of us are likely to face a diagnosis of dementia—a terrible, sobering thought. Personal accounts like those of Mitchell and Saunders put a human face on a devastating disease. Although I do have some reservations about the writing in SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW, I still found this memoir an illuminating and worthwhile read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    H.A. Leuschel

    What an extraordinary memoir by a courageous and inspiring woman! I was blown away by this book, often found myself tearing up and also smiling about her sense of humour and ingenious industriousness. This book is a first of its kind because never before has a person with young onset dementia written an account about her illness and the day to day changes she has had to live with and adapt to. How do you hold on to who you are, the job you do, the relationships you cherish when a disease is crue What an extraordinary memoir by a courageous and inspiring woman! I was blown away by this book, often found myself tearing up and also smiling about her sense of humour and ingenious industriousness. This book is a first of its kind because never before has a person with young onset dementia written an account about her illness and the day to day changes she has had to live with and adapt to. How do you hold on to who you are, the job you do, the relationships you cherish when a disease is cruelly and inevitably taking away your very sense of self? It's deeply moving, emotional and I will never look at dementia the same again and I'm sure Mitchell's story will stay with me for a very long time. 'There is only today', she writes at some point because, although she is trying to find ways to hold on to the past and plan for the future, only in the present do they both converge and make sense, because that's where they join into something we call a personal story. Since being diagnosed at the age of 58, Mitchell has joined numerous associations and organisations, campaigning for more awareness and understanding, so that people with dementia can continue to live their individual lives as long as possible with dignity and independence. This is important as I'm sure we all know or have heard of someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or is experiencing symptoms of dementia. My granddad for instance died at the enviable old age of 98, however, I remember vividly how devastating his senile dementia was in the last few years, leaving him disorientated and lost most days. The one only consolation we had as a family was that his decades of nightmares and memories of having survived the 'Stalingrad Battle' massacre in Russia with multiple wounds and lifelong suffering had also been wiped out. He lost himself with it, too though ... Highly, highly recommended read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Somebody I Used to Know is a brave and illuminating journey inside the mind, heart, and life of early onset Alzheimer’s disease.—Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice

  11. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    HERO A person who is admired or Idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. When I first opened this book I had many expectations but one I did not ever expect to find was a hero. I do not think that is a word that Wendy would use to describe herself. But, she fits it perfectly. Wendy has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. And this is her story. Wendy says she is not somebody suffering with dementia she is someone LIVING with dementia . But I believe that she is HERO A person who is admired or Idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. When I first opened this book I had many expectations but one I did not ever expect to find was a hero. I do not think that is a word that Wendy would use to describe herself. But, she fits it perfectly. Wendy has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. And this is her story. Wendy says she is not somebody suffering with dementia she is someone LIVING with dementia . But I believe that she is not only knocking down barriers for herself but, for all people with dementia. I cannot envision anyone reading this book not being filled with amazement,inspiration,and gratefulness for how Wendy has chosen to live her life. She gives of herself unselfishly to educate doctors, nurses,administrators, caregivers, clinical researchers, and the everyday public while battling her own disease and learning new avenues to live the life before her. I encourage you to read her story. Sit at her feet and learn from what she has to share. Be touched by this remarkable woman. I cannot imagine you will look at a person with dementia with the same eyes that you did before you opened her book. And when we find breakthroughs in treatment for this disease, I would not be surprised to find that somewhere, somehow Wendy would have had a hand in that too. Because where Wendy goes, she leaves seeds of hope behind her.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    Thank you, Wendy for sharing your story, for letting us honestly see how this disease affects a person. I inhaled this memoir in one afternoon as Wendy described how at age fifty-eight, her once active life was coming unraveled. I read as she slowly described how her world was changing, how the things that she loved to do were now becoming complicated. To think that at age fifty-eight, this disease was slowly creeping into her life, that this was only the beginning. Wendy’s attitude and resilien Thank you, Wendy for sharing your story, for letting us honestly see how this disease affects a person. I inhaled this memoir in one afternoon as Wendy described how at age fifty-eight, her once active life was coming unraveled. I read as she slowly described how her world was changing, how the things that she loved to do were now becoming complicated. To think that at age fifty-eight, this disease was slowly creeping into her life, that this was only the beginning. Wendy’s attitude and resilience made this novel, a winner for me. She didn’t sit back and wait for the disease to consume her nor did she want a pity party as her challenging lifestyle was now coming unraveled. Wendy made modifications where she could and she strived to make a difference. I was touched when I read this memoir. From her first confused thought to reading her blog, I am grateful that she is taking the time to write and let individuals know firsthand about Alzheimer’s. Since Wendy was diagnosed at the beginning stages of it, reading about the progression of the disease and her thoughts on it, I can understand her challenges and frustrations. Like Wendy said, this is a silent disease. No one can see it so they don’t understand when they can see the symptoms but they don’t know the diagnosis. No one wants to tell everyone their health history nor do they want to explain themselves when things go wrong. So what is a person to do? I liked how Wendy made adjustments to her lifestyle so she could still enjoy life. From her house to traveling, Wendy saw the obstacles and she tried to find ways to solve them. She wanted to keep working, she tried to keep working but sometimes we don’t see what’s best until later. Who could she tell of her diagnosis? You tell the wrong person and they avoid you like the plague or you tell the right person and they’ll be there for you. I cringed when she moved, as I thought for sure she would get lost coming home or just the house itself, for there were tons of issues she could have in a house that she was not familiar with. Wendy saw the obstacles in her new house and well, Wendy tackled them and I laughed, she solved them in Wendy fashion. I really enjoyed Wendy’s memoir and I look forward to reading her blog. I highly recommend this memoir for its insight its honesty, and for learning more about Wendy. “Life doesn’t have to be dull and risk-free just because you have dementia.”

  13. 5 out of 5

    Adele Shea

    Just finished Wendy Mitchell's book Somebody I Used To Know. What an amazingly strong woman she is. To suffer from Dementia but set about to bring awareness in the way she has is just inspiring. I'll be honest, I've been lucky to never have come across the disease but this book has really opened my eyes. Get this on your Must Read list.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    An altogether inspirational read chronicling one woman’s journey as she is diagnosed with early onset dementia in her fifties. With a hefty dose of black humour and endless cups of tea, the author is unrelenting on her positive attitude towards living with - not suffering of - her progressive brain disease. Having worked in dementia care as a care worker then as a nurse for over a decade I have most definitely learnt something new from reading this book. I considered how sensory issues affect de An altogether inspirational read chronicling one woman’s journey as she is diagnosed with early onset dementia in her fifties. With a hefty dose of black humour and endless cups of tea, the author is unrelenting on her positive attitude towards living with - not suffering of - her progressive brain disease. Having worked in dementia care as a care worker then as a nurse for over a decade I have most definitely learnt something new from reading this book. I considered how sensory issues affect dementia, something I must admit I have neglected to realise in the past. The author has used her illness to change the future of dementia care, and for that she can only be applauded. She has volunteered for drug trials, spoken to conferences of professionals and students, served as an ambassador for various charities and so much more. As well as the more notable achievements, the author shows various examples of day to day life with dementia as her ever present companion. The way she describes the disorientation and memory loss is remarkable. As a book lover and a nurse, this was a privilege to read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Very interesting book with the authors journey with early set dementia and very informative

  16. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Greenberg

    A patchwork of bleak and hopeful episodes stitch together this memoir. I found it provided a well crafted behind the eyes look at dementia as well as the memoir (and eclipse) of a practical woman railing against perceptions. Wendy's former self "speaks" through the progress of the disease. The author invests her time in educating others expectations of the disease reminding us that there is an early stage. Her can-do attitude is inspirational but we learn her way of being as independent and pro-a A patchwork of bleak and hopeful episodes stitch together this memoir. I found it provided a well crafted behind the eyes look at dementia as well as the memoir (and eclipse) of a practical woman railing against perceptions. Wendy's former self "speaks" through the progress of the disease. The author invests her time in educating others expectations of the disease reminding us that there is an early stage. Her can-do attitude is inspirational but we learn her way of being as independent and pro-active as possible is rooted in knowing the brutal realities. The book is her preparation for the siege of dementia towards which she inevitably moves.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate Wyver

    Goes some way to demonstrate the frustration and fragility of dementia, but the very plain language and overwhelming amount of clichéd metaphors stop it being the kind of devastating it feels like it should be. One lovely description of a life with dementia being like a bookshelf shaken, the top books and most recent memories falling first.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ricche Khosasi

    a very touching story

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jojo

    I don't often give the 5 stars, but this true story of how dementia impacts a life and what can be done to minimise the disruption is amazing. Sad as it is it gives hope for those that are travelling down this path that it isn't all back, and for those of us who hopefully are not going that way but may well encounters others less fortunate it gives us an insight it what is a truly frightening and confusing illness. Bravo for having the ability and the desire to write this book - I am in awe of y I don't often give the 5 stars, but this true story of how dementia impacts a life and what can be done to minimise the disruption is amazing. Sad as it is it gives hope for those that are travelling down this path that it isn't all back, and for those of us who hopefully are not going that way but may well encounters others less fortunate it gives us an insight it what is a truly frightening and confusing illness. Bravo for having the ability and the desire to write this book - I am in awe of you

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gaby Butterfield

    Good to read something written from the prospective of the person going through dementia. Having watched family members struggle through this themselves, I think writing a book was a massive achievement and a help to others perhaps entering their own uncertainties. It felt very real and I could imagine being her, perhaps a little scary knowing the possibilities and that it can happen so young. Very sad, but insightful. A little repetitive, but then again it’s from memoirs, so that’s understandab Good to read something written from the prospective of the person going through dementia. Having watched family members struggle through this themselves, I think writing a book was a massive achievement and a help to others perhaps entering their own uncertainties. It felt very real and I could imagine being her, perhaps a little scary knowing the possibilities and that it can happen so young. Very sad, but insightful. A little repetitive, but then again it’s from memoirs, so that’s understandable.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Wend

    Fascinating insight into living and coping with early onset dementia. Retaining dignity, independence and not being a burden on your children

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary Arkless

    I first heard of Wendy Mitchell when she appeared on BBC Radio Two's Jeremy Vine show. She had come to talk about her book and living with dementia. In 2014 at the age of 58, Mitchell was diagnosed with early onset dementia. Shortly after, I saw her book in Costco, so I bought it. I dipped into it right away, but until recently, it was a book I dipped into when I had a few spare moments in my bedroom (where I kept the book). Upon finishing the last book I read, I decided it was time to finish th I first heard of Wendy Mitchell when she appeared on BBC Radio Two's Jeremy Vine show. She had come to talk about her book and living with dementia. In 2014 at the age of 58, Mitchell was diagnosed with early onset dementia. Shortly after, I saw her book in Costco, so I bought it. I dipped into it right away, but until recently, it was a book I dipped into when I had a few spare moments in my bedroom (where I kept the book). Upon finishing the last book I read, I decided it was time to finish this one. Mitchell begins talking about running. She loved to run, and was running when inexplicably, she fell. Battered and bruised, she looked around, and saw nothing to have tripped on. This happened sometime later, and again, there was nothing there. Eventually, she decided to put her running shoes to the back of her cupboard. Other things started to happened, and eventually, she went for tests. She suspected the diagnosis when it came: dementia. The doctor simply in a sad tone gave her the diagnosis, declared there was nothing to be done, and basically dismissed Mitchell. Seems rather cruel, doesn't it? Mitchell tells of her journey through a progressive disease which slowly takes so much away from her. Yet, she tries to find ways around what is missing. She keeps herself active to fight dementia at every step, hoping to slow its progress by doing so. Her shining beacon is her two daughters. Her love for them influences what she does and how she does it. She is obviously a compassionate person, used to thinking outside the box. She tries to empower and console others with dementia. Most others living with the illness have a partner, spouse, or carer, which Mitchell does not. Very often, the partner or spouse takes over, does things for the person, becomes their mouthpiece, assuming control. Mitchell wonders if for those people, dementia moves faster, as they are not allowed to exercise their abilities and minds. For her, it is very important that people ask HER about how she is or what she wants, instead of speaking to her daughters, especially if she is right there in front of those people. She also explains how our choice of words can affect the person living with dementia. She insists that she doesn't suffer from dementia. She lives with it, for example. I can understand what she means. I am a cancer survivor, and those memes that go around about feeling so terribly sorry for those afflicted with cancer really get up my nose. Yes, I had a horrible disease. No, I don't need pity. There is much wisdom in this book, and much to ponder. Wendy Mitchell is an incredibly brave fighter.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ashvin

    Disclaimer: I received this proof copy published by Bloomsbury Publishing courtesy of Pansing Distributors in exchange for my honest review. “What do you lose when you lose your memories? How do you conceive of love when you can no longer recognise those who are supposed to mean the most to you?” Somebody I used to know is a philosophical, insightful and moving memoir about the author and her diagnosis of early-onset dementia at the age of 58. All at once, she had to say goodbye to the woman she u Disclaimer: I received this proof copy published by Bloomsbury Publishing courtesy of Pansing Distributors in exchange for my honest review. “What do you lose when you lose your memories? How do you conceive of love when you can no longer recognise those who are supposed to mean the most to you?” Somebody I used to know is a philosophical, insightful and moving memoir about the author and her diagnosis of early-onset dementia at the age of 58. All at once, she had to say goodbye to the woman she used to be, and is confronted with the most profound questions about life and death. This book is a tribute to the woman Wendy once was, and a brave affirmation of the woman dementia has seen her become. You know how some books just make you feel everything all at once? (I’M LOOKING AT YOU WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR), well this memoir was like that. I knew nothing about Dementia prior to reading this phenomenal memoir but while reading it, I felt as if I was there beside Wendy through her discovery of this illness and could feel for her as she slowly lost her ability to carry out normal day activities like driving and cooking. It was really sad to see/read how this woman, who was really at the top of her game, lose her independence to dementia, but I am proud that she was able to take this and turn it into something positive throughout the memoir. Ultimately, Somebody I used to know is full of hope, than of anything else. One thing I like about this read is the way it was written. You have Wendy sharing her words to her readers and also post-dementia Wendy sharing her words to herself, reminding the woman Wendy used to be about the things and memories that have taken place throughout her life. So, in the end, despite having memory loss, she doesn’t lose it all as she has this memoir to guide her through the future life which she will live in. I admire Wendy, both the woman she was before dementia, and after. I would love to have a conversation with her and share how inspiring of a woman she is. I am truly happy I picked this book up. All in all, Somebody I used to Know is perfect for those who enjoyed When Breath Becomes Air and especially Still Alice. Take my word for it, it’s a damn good book and the type you’d keep with you forever. It has provided me with hope and inspiration to live life to the fullest, despite how tough times can be. I rate it, 5/5 stars.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Louise Lingard

    This is an inspiring, sad, revealing, thought provoking book about living with dementia. It is an honest account of how dementia changes the world for sufferer and offers an insight rarely heard from someone actually living through dementia and howit affects her. In this aspect this book is truly remarkable, educational and moving. However, from a personal point of view, as a reader I found the emphasis on pre-dementia Wendy to be over-bearingly lingered on.....there are constant mentions of jus This is an inspiring, sad, revealing, thought provoking book about living with dementia. It is an honest account of how dementia changes the world for sufferer and offers an insight rarely heard from someone actually living through dementia and howit affects her. In this aspect this book is truly remarkable, educational and moving. However, from a personal point of view, as a reader I found the emphasis on pre-dementia Wendy to be over-bearingly lingered on.....there are constant mentions of just how brilliant at her job, self-sufficient as a single parent, and with many achievements and hobbies the author was...almost like the book is screaming...look...this is even more awful because it's taken someone so amazing at whatever she turned her hand to...yet, for me that adds very little to the story...it's no more sad that someone in the authors position should have dementia as anyone else, and for me personally I prefered when the book focussed on the actual way dementia impacts on her daily life than how much it's taken away.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dorothyredboots

    I think this is 3.5. Listened on audiobook. It’s an important subject and good to hear about this disease from a sufferer. I found it rather repetitive (all those cups of tea) and the frequent references to Wendy’s formerly marvellous memory and sharp mind wore a bit thin. Her coping strategies were ingenious and her daughters saints. Added bonus as during part of the timespan of the book Wendy was living in York, where I too,live.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    This memoir documents the authors experience being diagnosed and living with early onset dementia. Wendy Mitchell has not let this diagnosis take everything from her though I suspect that one day it will. Admirably she has used her diagnosis and experience to help others and further research into the disease. I am in support of voluntary euthanasia and this memoir only strengthened my views. 3.5/5

  27. 5 out of 5

    Zoë Marie

    There was nothing about this book that I actively hated, but I can’t say anything I loved either. It could occasionally make me laugh, and was an interesting insight but I found it repetitive (I realise this may have been the point) and melodramatic, while being overlong. I hope it had a good copy edit before it went to publication!!!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

    The realities of living with dementia as opposed to suffering from dementia. Interesting in parts but repetitive and self-congratulatory in tone. Dementia seems to leave no family unaffected with many, myself included, considering it the very cruellest of diseases and I was drawn to Wendy Mitchell’s memoir in the hope of educating myself about everything from indicative signs to watch out for, to tips and coping strategies enabling a person to live independently for as long as possible. Whilst So The realities of living with dementia as opposed to suffering from dementia. Interesting in parts but repetitive and self-congratulatory in tone. Dementia seems to leave no family unaffected with many, myself included, considering it the very cruellest of diseases and I was drawn to Wendy Mitchell’s memoir in the hope of educating myself about everything from indicative signs to watch out for, to tips and coping strategies enabling a person to live independently for as long as possible. Whilst Somebody I Used fo Know partly met my expectations I would have reservations about recommending it to other readers unreservedly. Undoubtedly a worthwhile read, not only could the memoir have been improved by cutting down on the repetition of illustrated incidents all evidencing the same point, it could also have done away with the over congratulating tone of the frequent italicised passages addressing Wendy’s past self. These sections portray Wendy as a very smug super single mum, decorating whole houses in a week, at the peak of physical fitness and with a practically photographic memory that had seen her labelled “the guru” by colleagues as she rostered nursing shifts and are too close to bragging to sit well. It was fifty-six-year-old Wendy’s general fuzziness, lack of energy and ultimately three running falls in quick succession that eventually forced her to visit her GP despite having had an impending sense of something not being quite right for months. From initial talk of a stroke through to her diagnosis of early-onset after a series of in-depth memory tests, her fears and sense of hopelessness was compounded by the bleak terms and hushed tones in which the medical profession refers to the disease. As someone who took their independence for granted, Wendy had a choice between giving in or arming herself with information and for Wendy this has resulted in a unique story of embracing the condition, educating herself and the medical profession, furthering research and travelling up and down the country educating audiences. However for many the most relevant and potentially beneficial aspect of this memoir will be the tips, tricks and coping strategies that Wendy has discovered and at three-hundred-pages there is an awful lot of repetition and boasting to wade through in order to find these worthwhile nuggets.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karenita

    This is a memoir written by a woman with “young onset Alzheimer’s.” Wendy Mitchell is a marvel and inspiration. She was an administrator at a hospital with a staff and she begins her book with how she started losing her memory at work. She got lost in the building.. What a nightmare! She eventually had to tell her colleagues about her condition. It was heartwarming how the staff made a few adjustments to help her not be confused and to remember who was who on the staff. She eventually had to ret This is a memoir written by a woman with “young onset Alzheimer’s.” Wendy Mitchell is a marvel and inspiration. She was an administrator at a hospital with a staff and she begins her book with how she started losing her memory at work. She got lost in the building.. What a nightmare! She eventually had to tell her colleagues about her condition. It was heartwarming how the staff made a few adjustments to help her not be confused and to remember who was who on the staff. She eventually had to retire, not too long after being diagnosed. Wendy has such a positive attitude and kept herself involved by offering to be in Alzheimer studies and to speak at Alzheimer’s conventions. Getting to these places, on her own, is scary and took supreme effort to find her way. She was very creative and would start out hours before she was due, to navigate buses (no longer driving) and maps and arrive on time. No one realized what it took to participate. Making her home a place that would not confuse her, using her ipad for reminders was not easy. She would need reminders even to eat. Sometimes she would find an uneaten meal in the refrigerator. The gist of her memoir is that she focuses on what she CAN do, not what she cannot. I found her to be inspirational. She writes a blog, that I have signed up to read through email.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    It is not often I close my kindle and immediately feel the need to write a review - I usually like to mull over my thoughts for a day or two. But today I just want to say WOW! I was unsure about reading this memoir of life with early-onset dementia and was concerned it would be unbearably sad and difficult to read. But far from it - this was no poor-me pity-party but an incredibly uplifting, even life-affirming, beautifully written, often humorous account of life with dementia by an utterly amaz It is not often I close my kindle and immediately feel the need to write a review - I usually like to mull over my thoughts for a day or two. But today I just want to say WOW! I was unsure about reading this memoir of life with early-onset dementia and was concerned it would be unbearably sad and difficult to read. But far from it - this was no poor-me pity-party but an incredibly uplifting, even life-affirming, beautifully written, often humorous account of life with dementia by an utterly amazing woman. With the support of two much-loved daughters and an indomitable spirit, she has become an Alzheimer’s ambassador and spokesperson, travelling alone all around the country to speak at conferences. Determined to make people understand that the face of dementia can be articulate, witty and empathetic, Wendy Mitchell, ever a fiercely independent, single mum, devises coping strategies: she uses her iPad to remind her to eat and take her medication, post-it notes to remind her where she is when she wakes in the morning in an unfamiliar hotel; she uses photos taken from Google to familiarise herself with an intricate journey taken to attend conferences as a keynote speaker; and photos of the insides of her home cupboards and wardrobes to remind her what is behind their incomprehensible doors. Far from being beaten into submission and an easy existence in the comfort zone of her home, she seeks to participate in as much clinical research into Alzheimer’s, and country-wide conference speaking, as possible. Even though her speech-memory deteriorates over time, her written word-memory does not desert her and she continues to write an online blog describing her daily life. Somebody I Used to Know should be read by everyone, whether or not directly or indirectly affected by dementia, because it is an inspirational insight into the world as experienced by the author, adamantly “living with, not suffering, dementia”.

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