A month ago, I started having awful, terrible, dreams—nightmares which caused me to awake short of breath and anxious. I tried walking off the blurry, ugly visions, but the residing tension followed me into the morning. After repeated nights of disturbed sleep, I began to dread going to bed.
After two weeks of persistently interrupted and fretful sleep, I finally made an appointment at Mayo Clinic with my neurologist. She listened carefully as I described my new symptoms, then responded. “As you know, sleep is a very important component of dealing with MCI—so we need to address this. I have a medication in mind that I think will help relieve the nightmares. And knowing you have a low tolerance for medications, I’ll prescribe the lowest dose possible,” she said as she moved her chair closer to me.
Because I felt heard I agreed to try the new med.
“I’ve also read in your chart,” she continued, “that you were seeing Dr. Brown for talk therapy. I know he has retired, are you seeing anyone else?”
I answered that I hadn’t, and that while I’ve missed having someone to talk with, the thought of finding a new therapist and starting all over again, with an unknown person, just seemed to be too daunting to me.
She nodded sympathetically, then told me she had someone in mind: a female professional she knew personally and highly recommended.
I immediately called for an appointment after returning home…then I started fretting and backpedaling. What if I don’t like the new provider? What if I don’t feel connected? Maybe I’m beyond benefiting from talk therapy. I dread having to go over my history again; the experience is always a painful reminder of my persistent and consistent decline of memory and cognition. I turned these fears over in my mind until my appointment finally arrived.
What a relief to realize my fears were unwarranted! My new therapist is a soft-spoken woman who listened to me recount my history with compassion and empathy. She asked questions with a gentleness that made me feel safe and understood. She accepted my periods of silence with ease.
The purpose of writing this post is to emphasize the need of finding the right medical and psychological therapist when treating MCI, which I define as a professional who has experience dealing with memory issues; listens with perception, intuition and expresses concern, compassion and competence; and offers suggestions for coping.
While I realize finding this person may take time and persistence, it is worth the effort. Often your primary physician will make recommendations, or you may be able to get recommendations from support group members or friends on the internet—someone who understands how MCI is different from dementia or Alzheimer’s.
We know this condition can be treated with meds, profession counseling, family and friends who offer support, love, and kindness, and especially by being gentle, kind and forgiving of oneself. Each source is an asset and aide in helping us live as fulfilling and contented lives as possible.
Good luck and let me know how you did.