Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Grief Depression Stress and SAD
Went to my second Alzheimer's Disease Caregiver Support Group today. The first one I went to in another city was canceled and I didn't know so I showed up to an empty room. I was sort of relieved. This one in South Lyon had one attendee. We figured out it was probably because the notice in the community newsletter didn't have where or a phone number. Cherilyn Johnson of Sparrow's Nest Christian Counseling was the facilitator as a volunteer with the Alzheimer's Association. She brought bundles of literature, handouts, relevant books, and her good heart, training and sensible approach. I was blessed with her willingness to stay for just one person. I then doused her with the issues in my life, my father's and brother's as well. We live together. My dad is 83 and 1/2 (it's a joke with his sister who is "going on 92") and my little brother has Down's Syndrome and now Alzheimer's Disease as well. On any given day we share a brain. Dad and I are observers to Scott losing little bits of himself, and we're struggling with diminished skills among all of us. The dog contributes by losing his command cues randomly which I think is intentional because dogs just want to fit in. The dog is also lousy at knowing where the car keys are and making dinner when we're too tired. So today I admitted to holding back grief. To denying depression. To more stress than I can handle alone. AND to the possibility of Seasonal Affective Disorder which I have in the past thought of as a whiner's sort of disorder, so of course, I couldn't have it. But now I am ready to find support and help. Not drugs yet - I'm not good at medications. My depression is the worst December, January, February, and I can get through those months if I corral the SAD. I shared the meeting with a good friend, and she - bless her - said yes, SAD is real, and she knew how to find a full spectrum light bulb and she'd get me one. I bid on some yellow candles on eBay because yellow is a sunny color. Cherilyn suggested I try to bring the grief out where I can see and address it by journalling or creating. What does grief look like? Grief feels like a black hole: icy, gigantic, solid. If I painted it, no viewer would feel the distance and aloneness, and I'd use up all my black paint. I told my friend Geri that I am envisioning more of a thready feel; like trying to walk a great distance on cobwebs. Over a big icy black hole. My friend Beckie who we lost last year gave me solid footing in the world. And her warmth was like a yellow dwarf star. Now there's a black hole where her star used to be. My little brother's humor is dimmed, his presence like a fading light, and I grieve for him, too. When I cried today because I didn't know if anything I'm doing is the good or right thing to do, Cherilyn said "do you ever let yourself just cry?" I said no, but I'm going to right now for a while. She also said, "all you can offer your brother is joy and safety." And that's what I will take to heart and give back as best I'm able. Safety and joy.