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How Was The Party?: A Year Living With Alzheimer’s – Writer Laura Bridgeman Discusses Her New Book

Laura Bridgeman

Photo credit: Darius Amini Shanks

Can you tell us about your new book How Was The Party?: A Year Living With Alzheimer’s?

This is a book about my mother. And me. About our experiences dealing with her Alzheimer’s. It spans just over a year.

What made you want to share this story?

I started writing as a way through the process. Of navigating what was happening. It started off as a blog.
Then it just grew. People started having an active interest in it. The writing. The experience. I kept going.
I didn’t know it was going to be a book when I started. I was just writing as a way to get through.

Can I ask, how has the change of roles with you taking care of your mother and her affairs affected you and do you think it’s changed you?

Taking care of Mum is gruelling. It’s a constant worry. I don’t know how it’s changed me. That’s hard to calculate. More tangibly, it’s changed US.
The way we communicate. We’re closer. More intimate. Mum was very hard to know. Hard to get close to.
She was an exacting mother. We’re more intimate now.
And we’re more affectionate. Physical.
I have enjoyed this part of the experience.
We’ve just registered the Power of Attorney. So I have taken over a greater role now. More responsibilities.

With your success writing plays for theatre and BBC Radio, and the brilliant reception this book has had becoming a Kindle bestseller, have you any plans for How Was The Party? the play?

No. I don’t think of it as a play. It’s written in the form it should be. I think of it more as scenes from a life. Snippets maybe.
I am currently working on How Was The Party? 2.
The experience keeps on unfolding. We’re approaching all the difficult stuff.
Mum not eating, Mum not swallowing, Mum not recognising us.

Has sharing this part of your life in a book led you to consider publishing other works on your personal experiences?

I have written some articles for OpenDemocracy.Net. About being a mother – to my mother and also a mother to my son. I’ve also written about working inside prisons. But for the moment, How Was The Party? is all-consuming. Generally, I have written imagined stories, invented worlds. I’m not used to writing autobiography. It’s been an intense few years.
My father passed 2 years ago. Then Mum went downhill. I’ve just been trying to document it.
My family has experienced a lot of pain. Mental Health issues. I cover these in the book.

Is there a message you hope readers, who are directly or indirectly, affected by Alzheimer’s will take away from your book?

Not a message as such. I’ve just shared my experiences. Things that have happened to me. Everybody’s take is different. I am on a few forums and websites for people with Alzheimer’s.
Carers share their experiences. It’s amazing to see the parities and the differences. The universality of the experience. I’m aware Mum is only going to get worse.
As far as I can gather, she has stopped writing, stopped walking.
I haven’t been able to visit her for awhile.
Her reality is quite removed. When I speak to her on the phone, she is different now.
More absent. But more loving also.
She says: “Help yourself to supper when you come in.”
As if I’m coming home.
But as much as it is tender, it is also scary.
As someone described the other day, Alzheimer’s is not all “Butterflies and Roses”.
Readers write to me weekly, about how HWTP? has informed them, helped them, some people find it uplifting also.
“Positive.” has been said more than twice.
I didn’t know it had this quality.
I didn’t know it would sell so well. Or be so well-received. It’s amazing.

What are your plans for the future?

With Lambert and Bridgeman, we’re pitching to get another commission with Radio 4. We’ve had 2 original dramas aired already.
We’re going for our 3rd.
And I’m working on, How Was The Party? 2.

Where can people buy the book?

The book can be bought through Amazon (UK link & US link). Or via my own website.

Where can you be found online?

I can found at: www.laurabridgeman.com. All my other work is detailed there and links to Twitter and Instagram.

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Laura Bridgeman is a writer, editor and lecturer. She runs hotpencil press with Serge Nicholson. Recent Credits include: The Butch Monologues (In collaboration with Vital Xposure and The Drakes), The (Trans) Mangina Monologues (Hotpencil Press). Caterpillars, Dogfood Diary co-written with Charles Lambert (BBC Radio 4). She teaches Creative Writing at Kingston and Imperial Universities and in 5 UK prisons.

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About Ruth Jacobs (297 Articles)
Author of Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, a novel exposing the dark world and harsh reality of life as a drug addicted call girl. The main storyline is based loosely on events from my own life. In addition to fiction writing, I am also involved in journalism and broadcasting, primarily for human rights campaigning in the areas of sex workers' rights, anti-sexual exploitation and anti-human trafficking.

10 Comments on How Was The Party?: A Year Living With Alzheimer’s – Writer Laura Bridgeman Discusses Her New Book

  1. Wonderful! I did write a lot of my father’s journey into dying, through four years on my own blog, as a way to get through it. And now just last night I spoke with my mother and realized that not only has she not one single clue about what is going on around her, but she also can’t subtract three from ten (our current time zone difference). I’m not kidding…she says, it’s ten here, so what time is it there? It’s three hours earlier, says I. Oh, she says, three hours…So what time is it there? Sigh. Seven, Mom. Seven? Oh yes! It’s ten here.

    Oh. My. Goddess.

    Not again. Yes, again. Goodbye, life! I was so enjoying the dance.

    • I remember when you were looking after your father, Laura. So sorry to hear your mother is unwell. Will you need to go back to look after her now? xx

      • That would be best, but I am facing serious medical problems myself at this time and must look after myself. I have autoimmune disease and my spine is disintegrating. Surgery is recommended because my arms and legs are not working too well, but other aspects of my health are making surgery too dangerous. So I’ve applied to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the best in the US, for a comprehensive evaluation. In the meantime Mom will have to fend for herself, I’m afraid. An interesting situation, on many fronts. How are you getting on, Ruth? I’m afraid I lent your book to a friend, who lent it to another friend…everyone loves it!

        • I’m so sorry you are unwell too. I’m sorry I’ve also been useless at keeping in touch this last year or so. It would be great to have a Skype catch up with you soon, maybe the weekend if you’re free? I hope the Mayo Clinic can help and get you on the road to recovery. That’s lovely to hear about my book on a journey through your friends and great they are enjoying it xx

  2. Everything I have ever read from Ruth or her associates has inspired me–a rare feat in this world.

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