I have been in a mild depression for weeks, without any creative energy to lift me up and out. I’m no stranger to depression; it’s not the first or last time. When I was working for clients, it was relatively easy to take the time necessary to recoup and recharge. Nobody needed to know that I was down and out, except the people I trust to love and support me during those times. Now that I’m a valued caregiver, though, I can’t just “not show up”, and showing up with a positive frame of mind is more important than ever.
Bad timing, too!
My mother has slipped into sundowning mode. I need to be there longer each day to help her through the change of light that can throw so many people with dementia into a tizzy of confusion and delusion. Very close to 5 p.m., she begins to get agitated and confused. She talks about seeing things that aren’t there. Or it might be an old memory, it’s hard to tell. She paces and looks out the windows, worrying. She can’t seem to make sense of what’s going on inside her head, and it distresses her. My father reacts to her distress by getting distressed himself. It’s contagious.
But that’s life, isn’t it? Just when you think you have it all figured out…. something comes along to remind you that you don’t. Caregivers need to be mindful of depression, too – studies have shown that they report depression in significant numbers, which is not surprising. My depressions come and go, and might be exacerbated by the sadness seeping into my days and nights, but I don’t think that depression need be a presumed result of caregiving.
There’s always a way….
I came across some incredible healing meditations by Sarah Blondin, and have been using them to soothe and comfort me as I watch the sun rise. Yesterday, at the “witching hour”, I asked my Mom to listen with me. We both lay on her bed and shared the earbuds. I pulled her blinds down and put all the lights on in her room so that she wouldn’t notice the light changing. And for 20 minutes we lay side by side listening to Sarah’s beautiful voice. I could feel my Mom’s energy calming, as I wiped away tears that kept springing to my eyes. It was beautiful.
I get a break, they don’t.
My siblings are there for me on the weekend, and our new hired caregiver is a true blessing. Mom and Dad never get a break. They wake up having to struggle with their changing brains every day.
And that’s the most important lesson today. Emotions are just emotions, there’s always a way out of depression and sadness. Sometimes just admitting it is the first step to getting through it. But I still need to show up for Mom and Dad, and put on my happy face, push through to my happy place.
“I wish someone had told me, when I felt I had nothing to offer the world,
that all I needed to do was sit down and breath. That all I needed to do was learn the practice of opening to and discovering the true Self, sitting inside of me, quietly, and that from there the rest would come easier.”
– Sarah Blondin