Author(s): Wendy Mitchell; Anna Wharton
"A brave and illuminating journey inside the mind, heart, and life of a person with early-onset Alzheimer's disease."--Lisa Genova, author of Still Alice
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.
In this groundbreaking book, 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.
A chronicle of one woman's struggle to make sense of her shifting world and her mortality, Somebody I Used to Know offers a powerful rumination on memory, perception, and the simple pleasure of living in the moment. Philosophical, poetic, intensely personal, and ultimately hopeful, this moving memoir is both a tribute to the woman Wendy Mitchell used to be and a brave affirmation of the woman she has become.
Advance praise for Somebody I Used to Know
"Somebody I Used to Know is both an indispensable guide for people grappling with the consequences of a dementia diagnosis and a stirring account of courage in the face of devastating loss."--Booklist (starred review)
"This is an eloquent and poignant book. Those of us who have gone on the heartbreaking journey of losing a loved one to dementia have wondered what they were feeling. Wendy Mitchell's courageous and unflinching account lets us know."--Patti Davis, author of The Long Goodbye
Brave, illuminating and inspiring, Somebody I Used to Know is the first memoir ever written by someone living with dementia.
A brave and illuminating journey inside the mind, heart, and life of early onset Alzheimer's disease -- Lisa Genova, author of 'Still Alice' Nothing is more frightening than dementia, says Wendy - and yet, every day, she chooses to face her fears head on. By sharing her story Wendy challenges assumptions and ignorance about dementia. Read this amazing book. It will change a lot of people's minds about what it means to have the disease -- Professor Pat Sikes, University of Sheffield Wendy's book is an absolutely compelling account of life with dementia. The writing is brutally honest as she faces life with her diagnosis but what she tells us is uplifting and a testimony to human spirit and ingenuity. Public and professionals alike will learn a lot from reading her book -- Jan R Oyebode, Professor of Dementia Care, University of Bradford
Wendy Mitchell spent twenty years as a non-clinical team leader in the NHS before being diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia in July 2014 at the age of fifty-eight. Shocked by the lack of awareness about the disease, both in the community and in hospitals, she vowed to spend her time raising awareness about dementia and encouraging others to see there is life after a diagnosis. She is now an ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society. She has two daughters and lives in Yorkshire. Anna Wharton is a veteran newspaper and magazine journalist, most recently as an executive editor at The Daily Mail, and is now a ghostwriter and editing consultant. She lives in Tunbridge Wells.