This week, Tuesday night’s show on Your Caregiving Journey was about stress and caregiving. We’re in a place right now where things are relatively calm in the caregiving aspect of my life. The rest of my life, though, has been a bit insane. And then when there is an issue in caregiving, it can be enough to send everything out of balance.
Probably back in April I started feeling like I wasn’t responding to things appropriately. Actually, I felt like I wasn’t responding at all. I wasn’t depressed, I guess I just felt kind of flat emotionally. I described it as feeling numb. Poor word choice. I used the word in a support group, looking for support, or a shove in the right direction. What I got instead was told that I wasn’t numb because that would mean I was self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Well, I wasn’t doing either of those. I appreciated when someone else jumped to my defense and said that she thought it was that we stop feeling and reacting to things after a while. While I agreed, we were told that wasn’t it either. (How is it that others, who are not you, know what you are thinking or feeling?)
So I tried to think about this whenever I thought I wasn’t reacting to something the way I thought was appropriate. Honestly, I wasn’t reacting. I was saying the right things, but I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t get positively excited. I didn’t feel scared. For example, Steve had to have a biopsy. I felt nothing. I wasn’t scared, worried or anything. I was just matter of fact. That didn’t seem right. Shouldn’t I be more upset about this?
Life continued. Our son was getting stressed with finals, AP exams, projects, and crazy teachers. Steve was worried about the biopsy. I was dealing with way too much stuff and more was being dumped on me by the day it seemed, with the treasurer of the booster organization quitting and my having to take over that job in addition to being president and having already taken on a second job in the organization.
My mother-in-law died and I really felt nothing. I liked her, too! I got teary eyed at the funeral only when my niece spoke. She died, and we moved on with life.
Memorial Day my son’s high school band played at the local cemetery’s service. It was very nice, and I honestly was relieved that the patriotic music brought tears. I had begun to worry about myself.
Sunday night we were watching the Tony awards. I spent the entire time working on my newly inherited job as treasurer for the booster organization. Our son wasn’t into the show, but sat with us using his iPad. I tried to interact with Steve. He didn’t respond much (note to self: get his hearing checked!) and didn’t really interact. I went upstairs for something and was hit with the thought that this isn’t how it used to be. Ugh.
Earlier this week, the last week of school for our son, it wasn’t the straw that broke this camel’s back, it was a jar of salsa. I don’t even remember what I did Monday morning before I went to the grocery store, or how much I had left to do that day. I had put away the groceries and was just treating myself to a snack sized bag of Cheetos which I had received at a lunch two days before. (Willpower!) I picked up a box of something to put it away, and in taking it off the counter, hit a jar of salsa which went right on the floor and broke. My husband heard the crash and the loud, “Oh, crap!” and came downstairs to make sure I was all right. I was.
I picked up a few large pieces of glass, then sat down and finished the bag of Cheetos while I looked at the mess! It sounds comical now to think I did that. Steve came back downstairs and I explained the mess would wait and I wanted to finish the Cheetos. Then I started crying. Steve consoled me about the broken jar of salsa and I told him it hadn’t been a good day. I had a scratch on part of my eye and I had volunteered to chaperone the band for four hours at graduation and I had put hours and hours into catching up the treasurer’s work and I wasn’t done and I had 80 e-mails in my in box and oh by the way, we were having a meeting at our house that evening and I hadn’t cleaned the house. And I was relieved. I felt so relieved to realize I actually felt something!
Steve, being the saint he is, did most of the clean up. All I had to do was mop part of the floor. I took action and deleted e-mails and offered someone else the opportunity to attend graduation as a chaperone. She jumped at the chance! The treasurer stuff is caught up and stacked near the front door to go to someone else. At the meeting I handed each person a stack of papers so they could help me write the paperwork and checks for about 20 requests for money.
I really had become concerned that there was something wrong with me. Maybe my emotions were broken. How do you cure broken emotions when no one even understands what you mean? While I do think that as a caregiver we can become immune to some things as a sanity saving measure, it was nice to find out that I’m okay, all due to a jar of salsa.