This is the story of Pam and John; she in her early 50’s and John is 62. Pam is a college professor. John taught at a local community college until diagnosed with Parkinson’s in March 2008, then Lewy Body Dementia in April.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Letting out my feelings

In Life in the Balance Dr. Grayboys writes in general terms about how he and his wife were open about their feelings about the disease to each other and she let out her anger a him in a safe therapy setting. My therapist suggests I might do that with John, even the wild irrational feelings that tend to come out as that he is ruining my life.

I'm afraid of several possible outcomes:

  • he might just be overwhelmed and confused and hurt--it might feel like I had taken candy from a baby
  • it might make him face the feelings he is avoiding facing and send him into deep depression
  • it might drive him to paranoia

I worry particularly about that last alternative. He has never been someone who went very deeply into his own feelings and when I suggest he is avoiding certain issues (such as not responding when I say I am depressed) he feels I am criticizing him. He thinks I'm exaggerating how bad things are and he finds ways to make it my issue rather than his--for example, he says I take things over that he could still do because I am too sensitive about mistakes.

John admits he is having cognitive problems and he doesn't resist my taking things over. I'm lucky in that, and I don't want to endanger a relatively positive pattern by wanting to be open about my feelings.

I don't think there is a right answer; in the end I will have to trust my intuition.

1 comment:

pearose said...


Your feelings are understandable and I highly commend you for dealing with them honestly and through therapeutic intervention. Caregiving is a very difficult, emotional and all consuming task.

When you get to the point where you can take it one day at a time and with grace, you'll be where you need to be. It sounds to me like you're trying to get there your way and that way is different for everyone.

I know you're living in a small area. Are there choices out there in regard to providing respite care for you? If so, begin to get them lined up so you can help yourself along the way. This burden can be shared and would be the best thing for John, too. You're going to need the breaks to take advantage of a little freedom on a daily basis.

Do yourself a favor and tune out the 'not really related to the situation' cliches that your journey will bring out in others. They're not dealing with what you have to deal with, most likely, and can not relate.

You will feel joy again.