Laugh

Jean

Laugh

Jean
flower-729814_640One of the three words for this week's community caregiving journal is laugh.

Laughter has been on my radar this past week. I posted how I was grateful for laughter in my Gratitude forum. P and I have been laughing more often.

I can't tell you how absent laughter was from our lives. Eight years or so years into caregiving my MIL, who was by then bedridden with vascular dementia and aphasia, P and I were both stressed to the max. I saw the list of symptoms that Denise posted (read How Stressed Are You?). We both were experiencing every single thing on this list and for some time.

According to HelpGuide.org, you may be stressed if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Memory problems

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Poor judgment

  • Seeing only the negative

  • Anxious or racing thoughts

  • Constant worrying

  • Moodiness

  • Irritability or short temper

  • Agitation, inability to relax

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • Sense of loneliness and isolation

  • Depression or general unhappiness

  • Aches and pains

  • Diarrhea or constipation

  • Nausea, dizziness

  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat

  • Loss of sex drive

  • Frequent colds

  • Eating more or less

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Isolating yourself from others

  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities

  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax

  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)


I was frustrated with P. He was slipping deeper and deeper into depression and was not doing anything to help himself. He was neglecting his responsibilities and I felt like his mother nagging him to do stuff. That isn't me and I hate nagging. How did I get into this role! I discovered he wasn't even taking his anti-depressants which he'd been on for years. He was sick so much I felt I had two carees and felt like I was the only one working. I felt so alone. I pretty much said, I didn't know how much longer I could do this and I couldn't bear witness to him sinking any lower because I love him so much. I told him I'd been fantasizing about moving near my daughter and those thoughts scared me. I wanted him to see a counselor and I had already made an appointment for myself and was moving on with my life whether he chose to or not. He chose counseling also.

My counselor turned out to be a dud. His, he liked, and eventually we started doing couples sessions with her together. (We had seen a counselor early in the caregiving to help adjust but that counselor moved away.) It's hard to find good counselors, and starting over with someone new is a real drag, but we both were drowning.

Well, before we began sessions together, the therapist had us fill out relationship questionnaires. We didn't talk to each other as we filled them out at home but we compared notes after finishing. We found we answered nearly identical. At least we were on same page.

Back to laughter. One of the multiple choice questions was: How often do you laugh together? We both picked: Once every two weeks.

And this morning I said to him, do you realize that you have been up 30 minutes and we have already had two good laughs. I reminded him of that questionnaire.

It's been 18 months since his mom's death. Last Christmas was hard. This year is different. P said he felt like Santa Clause taking a package to ship to my grandkids. He even put up a small outdoor light thingy. (We haven't observed holidays in years.) He's laughing and joking most of the day. The man I fell in love with is back and we both realize we are enjoying life again. I'm grateful and tears of joy come writing this.

  • My wish for all caregivers, present and past, is much laughter in your lives.

  • I hope that visiting and sharing on caregiving.com can help you decrease stress to allow more laughter into your lives.

  • I thank Denise for this site that has given me a place to make sense of the years of caregiving and a place to share and find recovery and hope and joy.