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Working through feelings is a positive step

2.2 Working through feelings is a positive step

Expressing, talking through and accepting your feelings about the dementia diagnosis

It is important to work though feelings. Things you can do include:

  • Express your feelings. It is perfectly OK to cry. Tears are one way that help you let go of emotion.
  • Accept your feelings. Know there is no ‘right’ way to feel. Some carers may even have thoughts they feel are unacceptable, such as anger toward the person with dementia. You are not alone, these thoughts are quite common.
  • Talk about your feelings. You might talk to someone you know and trust, or you can talk to a professional counsellor. Professional counselling is strictly confidential, and you can speak openly about your feelings. Talking about how you feel with another person can put thoughts and feelings into perspective and sharing will help ease the intensity of feelings.  Counselling is offered by private services (you need to pay for these) or can be arranged through Dementia Australia.
  • Write about your feelings. Some people prefer to work through worries and feelings by writing about them. You can try writing a journal. It can be helpful to write letters – that you will never send to particular people, including your future self – as a way of releasing anger, frustration, guilt, distress and so on. Getting thoughts and feelings out of your head and down on paper can help you understand them more clearly and feel more in control.

Things you can do to work through your feelings

  • Talk to family and/or friends about your feelings.
  • Write down your feelings about having dementia in a journal or a notepad. If you don’t know where to start, write a letter to your future self, or someone you love.
  • Telephone the Dementia Australia counsellors on 1800 100 500. Ask about post-diagnostic counselling or an education and support group.
  • See a grief and loss counsellor or ask your GP if you can get subsidised counselling through a mental health plan.