Oct 30, 2012

You Get Back What You Put In

I'm actually getting a stomach ache of sorts right now as I relive the feelings of dread I experienced each morning. The knot in my stomach.

Bob De Marco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Bob DeMarco
Yesterday we published a first article from M.L. Swift - My Last Really Bad Day.

I couldn't help remembering the enormous amount of angst I was feeling while I waited for Dotty to wake up in the morning during the period of greatest burden,  I wrote this to M.L.
During my period of greatest burden I would feel an enormous angst knowing that my mother was going to wake up soon. Also, like you, I was going to the gym when it opened at 5:30 AM. Then I finally got a better idea, take my mother into the gym and work her out. It was this single act, along with my revelation that something had to change and that something was Me, that soon lead us off the path of burden and onto the path of Joy.

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I'm actually getting a stomach ache of sorts right now as I relive the feelings of dread I experienced each morning. The knot in my stomach.

What would today bring? The sour puss, not there look on Dotty's face? Probably. The complete and total negativity? Probably.

Another mostly horrible day?

Over time I envisioned myself as a hamster running on a hamster wheel. I closed my eyes and there I was Me, not a hamster, running around a giant hamster wheel. It was exhausting envisioning it in my mind. Worse in real life. Stop it hamster.

I wrote another article that described how I was feeling - Alzheimer's World, Bang Your Head Against the Wall.

It was very easy to complain over and over to anyone that would listen about Dotty and her sour puss, mean spiritedness. Complaining over and over is not the same as the proactive form of emotional release known as venting. You keep complaining about the same thing over and over and people are going to stop listening. Shut you out.

The problem with complaining, you are not listening to yourself. If you were listening to yourself you would get sick and tired of hearing yourself.

It appears that M.L. was sick and tired of being a hamster, and tired of banging his head against the wall.

He came to a simple conclusion, something had to change. He decided to channel his feelings into something productive. He started writing. It seems to me he realized something had to change and that something was him.

In order to communicate effectively with a person who is deeply forgetful you must adapt and change. Of course, you can complain about the same thing over and over, and continue to cast the blame on to the person who is deeply forgetful.

Fine by me.

If you have a printer, print the image above out. Tape it to the wall. Follow the direction in the circle.

We have many articles here on the ARR in our knowledge base that were written by real live, in the front row, Alzheimer's caregivers.

They were written by the you and me's of the world. If nothing else, they fully understand how you might be feeling. The understand because they lived it - up close and personal.

Almost all of these caregivers write about the positive and the wonderful. They look out of their own eyes and tell us what they see.  What they feel.

Don't get me wrong, life for each of them is not a bed of roses. But for some reason they are not complaining about their loved one. The person who is deeply forgetful is bringing happiness, sometimes Joy,  not angst, into their lives.

Each of these caregivers decided in their own way that they were getting off the hamster wheel, they were going to stop banging their head against the wall. It finally hurt too much.

Instead, each of them in their own way made a decision.

Something had to Change.

Over time the realized they had to change.

That Something was Them.

There will always be bad days. There is no way around this. But they decided, independent of each other, they would embrace life in a new and different way.

They accepted the reality of Alzheimer's World. Once they did this, the complaining stopped. They became kinder and gentler, more understanding, and more accepting.

Then something wild and crazy happened. The person who is deeply forgetful forgot how to be mean.

I guess you could say,

You get back what you put in.

Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The ARR knowledge base contains more than 4,700 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room