Lifting the lid on a disease that destroys couple’s lives

Jill Butcher SUS-171019-153336001
Jill Butcher SUS-171019-153336001

A man suffering from a rare form of dementia - who was banned last year from a string of supermarkets, his local leisure centre and library - has inspired his wife to help others.

Jill Butcher, from Haywards Heath, has written a novel about a couple whose marriage is in crisis as a result of the brain disease frontotemporal dementia.

Although the book is fictional, Jill’s husband Laurie has the same disease and was last year sent home from Sainsbury’s in a police car because of his behaviour and was later banned from a number of other stores.

The disease, Jill said, had changed Laurie, 75, from a ‘jokey pleasant chap’ to one who is ‘extremely unpleasant.’

Now in her novel - entitled Beyond Marriage Vows - Jill tells the story of Effie and Lionel and how Lionel’s changing bizarre behaviour, though sometimes humorous, gradually drives away their friends.

“I wrote the novel in order to publicise the effects of the disease, not only on patients, but also on their families,” said Jill.

She plans to donate proceeds from the sale of the book to frontotemporal dementia research.

Jill wants to raise awareness of the disease - which often strikes younger people.

Speaking after the police incident, Jill said: “One of the big problems is lack of understanding by the public, and even by members of the medical profession.”

Laurie used to work in advertising and first became ill around 11 years ago. “I think quickly after that we began to find we were losing friends. Our social life began to disintergrate,” said Jill.

It was not, of course, Laurie’s fault but the effect of the disease.

In her novel, Jill tells a heart-warming and heart-breaking story as the characters struggle with the malevolent mental illness.

The book also questions the manner in which society deals with mental health issues which are sadly increasingly common.

Beyond the Marriage Vows is available on Amazon either as an e-book or as a paperback.

“In my wildest dreams, I should like my book to do for frontotemporal dementia what ‘Still Alice’ by Lisa Genova did for early onset Alzheimer’s,” added Jill.