During my absence of blogging, I have once again been indulging in my love of books and burying myself in the pages of the books that have been on my to-read list for some time. Prior to this, reading had been somewhat problematic due to the severe dizziness and visual disturbances, that I have been experiencing, and for a while it seemed that my love of reading was another thing that my illness had taken away from me.
However, although the dizziness is still bad and still experiencing visual disturbances, they have eased enough for me to start reading again. One book that I have recently read was the excellent and highly emotional read, ‘The Memory Book’ by Rowan Coleman.
The book tells the story of Claire, a beautiful, intelligent and vibrant forty-something. Mother to two wonderful children, Caitlin aged 20 and Esther aged 3, and married to Greg, the man of her dreams. Claire, however is also living early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, and after watching her own father overcome to the disease, Claire is all too aware that life for her and her family will never be the same.
Greg, her husband then buys her a beautiful notebook, which becomes ‘The Memory Book’ in which Claire, and other members of her immediate family to record their own personal memories of the life that they had together, as well as mementos that have had significant meaning in their lives. The book is not only for Claire to use as a memory aid, but also for the entire family to cherish and remember the life that they all shared together.
The story made me think of my own life with chronic illness. Living with a variety of symptoms such as pain, fatigue, dizziness as well as the problems with my legs, all associated with the neurological condition I live with, I have no need for a book to help me remember my life with my condition. However, often when we are struggling because of not only the physical effects of illness on our bodies but also the psychological effects on our minds, we are often however in need of positive reminders of life outside our bodies and outside the walls that chronic illness creates.
So, how about creating our own gorgeous notebooks, but instead of filling them with memories of our lives. we create pages of everything that help us to remain positive, mementos of happy times and everything else that makes us happy and fills our lives with joy!
Such items could include favourite uplifting and positive quotes and affirmations that bring comfort during difficult periods of your life. Postcards, photographs and other mementos from holidays of a lifetime. Letters and cards from friends and family including words of love and encouragement. Lyrics from your favourite song. Objects and pictures which evoke positivity and happiness or are reminders of achievements that have been gained despite illness; reminders that we are more than our illness. Anything and everything that will help keep your spirits up during difficult periods in your life, such as during bad flares or relapses due to chronic illness.
Much research has shown the positive effects that writing and keeping a gratitude journal can have on our health, and in my opinion a memory book like the one I have described is a natural extension of that. A personal beautiful, hand-crafted positive memory book to look through when life with chronic illness feels like too much to handle, I think will help us bounce back from negative emotions and strengthen our happy memories.
The finished positivity book is not the only benefit, but the ability to become creative to produce something meaningful can also be therapeutic when living with the effects of chronic illness as it allows an outlet for all of our thoughts and feelings regarding life with chronic illness and the new limitations that it has placed in our lives.
I have been wanting to create my very own scrapbook for a while, to fill with all the beautiful quotes and affirmations that I have found during my days out with my carer, as well as the ones sent to me by other spoonies and after reading ‘The Memory Book’ it has inspired me to start my very own (positive) memory book!
Now I just need to buy all the materials I may need…
If you were to create your very own positive memory book, what items and mementos would you include? Have any ideas I could use for my own book, then shoot me a message as unfortunately I am not very artistic or creative so would like to make it as easy as possible! And for all you book-worms out there, then I would really recommend ‘The Memory Book’ by Rowan Coleman, it’s a wonderful read…