The Origin of the Tree
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The initial idea for using the concept of a tree came from an observation that I had made when I first suspected that something other my Major Depression might be the primary cause of my memory impairment. This occurred in early 2018 when I noticed a small olive tree in the backyard at our family home, growing in a very precautious position, against a rock ledge and under a very large paper bark tree. For many years it remained in a dormant state. It wasn’t dead nor was it growing – it seemed to be content with just surviving.
Then one day, something changed, and it suddenly started to grow at a fantastic rate to where it is today.
Photo from the 12th of July 2020
Finally, based on a deep religious experience that occurred in February 2020, (which I will refer to later) I decided to use the writings of St Augustine of Hippo - to name the branches in my tree that represent the four aspects of self, that I needed to reset and bring back into balance. That is: -
Body – light green symbolises balance, harmony, and growth
Heart – purple symbolises deep love
Mind – pink symbolises a calm mind
Soul – yellow symbolises an optimistic spirit
The second influential event occurred after I read an article in late 2019 that described the new changes that were being introduced into Rugby League. It wasn’t the nature of the changes that were being made that grabbed my attention, it was more the message behind why these changes were being made. In my case, the phrase made me realise that if I was going to slow down the progression of this disease, then the leaves in my tree needed to reflect the changes I was making in every aspect of my life.
“Where there are accepted rules that define the game, don’t be afraid to break them for the good of the game”.
How the Tree Works
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From my experience, each of the 4 aspects of self (Body, Heart, Mind and Soul) are interconnected and exert a synergetic relationship with each other. I believe, it is only when the 4 aspects are nourished by their own individual leaves (Leaves of Positivity) that they can be reset, to create a balanced harmonious environment (positivity) that will help you manage and fight this disease as it progresses. In most cases, the ‘Leaves of Positivity’ that I have chosen in my tree are representative of a range of Non-Pharmacological Interventions (NPI), organisations and activities that I have assigned to each of the four aspects. I feel that it is important to re-iterate at this point, that at NO time am I suggesting that the ‘Tree of Awakening your Positivity’ will provide an effective treatment for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. In fact, I am saying the complete opposite. That is, where COVID -19 has shown us the practicality of ‘flattening out the curve’, I believe it might also be possible to change the expected trajectory of a disease such as Alzheimer’s by adopting a comprehensive multi-modal and holistic approach into your daily life. Until a cure is discovered for this disease, the endpoint of the disease will still be the same but at least you can have the possibility of extending your life expectancy and living a better quality of life.
My Tree of Awakening your Positivity, therefore represents a culmination of my own experiences, research, and experimentation over the past 2 ½ years, to develop a comprehensive multi-modal and holistic approach to the way that I manage my diagnosis on a daily basis. It is very much built on the notion of validation, whereby it is important to understand and accept that, where there is no cure for dementia, what you are already doing on a daily basis is helping you fight this disease. It is my hope that by incorporating changes into my own life (life changes), I will be able to retain my independence for a much longer period, thereby improving my quality of life as this disease progresses. In doing so, I hope to remove some of the ‘doom and gloom’ that I experienced when I first received my diagnosis, by providing a pathway away from the darkness that had surrounded me, as I now start to exert a measure of control over my own life.
As such, my Tree of Awakening your Positivity, is only representative of my own personal journey. The ‘Leaves of Positivity’ that I have chosen are reflective of the needs, circumstances, and the stage of Alzheimer’s Disease that I am experiencing at this moment in time. Therefore, I expect that my ‘Leaves of Positivity’ will change with time.