I truly enjoy Halloween. I love thinking up fun costumes, handing out goodies, seeing all of the kids (and not-so-kids) in our neighborhood, and looking at all of the creative decorations. Since I live in the desert, I can sit on my porch and enjoy the evening. For our loved ones with dementia, this may not be as fun of an evening.
The fun costumes that bring us so much joy can become very confusing for those with dementia. When the truth becomes a lie, lies like masks and make-up become absolutely terrifying. The constant ringing of the doorbell by trick-or-treaters, while fun and exciting in the past, can become a source of panic and anxiety now. Having candy in the house can be tempting for the best of us, but compulsive for those who no longer have control or filtered thoughts. Lack of filters could make parties or other social interactions virtually impossible.'
How can we help with this, especially when our loved ones still want to engage in the holiday?
It is SO easy as human beings to want to compare and contrast our lives with others. We look at other people and think how easy their life is, how smart and well-behaved their kids are, how successful they are. It seems we do this even more as caregivers. She seems so calm and under control. He sounds like he’s found all the answers. They never complain about their loved one’s behaviors or challenges.
Want the truth? THEY’RE LYING. It might be to you. It might be to the universe. It might be to themselves, but they are. OK, they might also be new to the caregiving journey and it IS all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns and Skittles...for now. Remember when you lived there? Remember when you thought this would all be OK? Remember when you read all of the literature online, pamphlets from your doctor or some other organization, or the “how to” books on living with dementia? You know, when it sounded like all you needed was some good pre-planning, a little patience, and medication, and you’ve got this? Yeah. I don’t really either, but we were all there at some point. Now, for better or worse, we know the real truth.
So as difficult as it may be, stop comparing your fruitcake with someone else’s apples. Dementia is a journey through the same forest, but we are all on very separate and distinctive paths. We might be able to see through the trees and catch glimpses of other caregivers, but we don’t see them completely. We might see the boulders on ours, but not the tiny rock that will trip you up on theirs (seriously, as a runner it’s NEVER the big rocks that trip me, it’s some little one that I didn’t see that derails me. I’m sure you follow me on this one). They may feel theirs is completely uphill both ways in a raging snowstorm, but not see that yours is all quicksand.
In this world of social media, filters, “influencers”, and other exercises of trickery, illusion, and misdirection we see this more and more. We put our best face forward to hide the pain and struggle that we feel. We appear to want others to feel comfortable and safe when we feel anything but. We look at others doing this and compare our truth with their internet spin. STOP. Stop measuring your success and worth with other people. Stop collecting stats on everyone else and measuring them against yours. Stop looking at everyone else’s loved ones’ path of dementia and comparing it to yours. They are all equally horrible, heartbreaking, frustrating, and difficult. Each person just comes to the trip with a different pack of tools, type of relationship, and attitude. AND ALL OF THIS CAN CHANGE BY THE MINUTE.
What am I saying? Don’t judge yourself against other caregivers. It will honestly only increase your feelings of frustration, depression, and hopelessness. If you really feel that you need a measuring stick, find ones that support and boost you up.
Cut yourself a little slack.
I’ve heard things like this throughout my life, but the way I heard it in my Neurolinguistic Practitioner training resonated a little deeper with me. I heard it again today and it hit me even harder. The way it was approached today was as “tall poppy syndrome”. This is where if you grow too tall, someone will cut you down. These are not the situations we want to find ourselves in or the kind of people we want to be with. We want to be able to grow as tall and beautiful as we want to be.
What do I mean? I mean we want to find and keep the people who boost us up, who let us be who we are without harsh judgment, and only want the best for us. In this caregiving journey (and in life in general), it seems the people who want to drag us down come out of the woodwork. The people who want to tell us what to do, how to do it, and how they know better when they haven’t spent a minute in our situation to know anything about anything. They not only come seeping out, they become very vocal. People we don’t know or haven’t spoken to in years are suddenly the experts on our lives and what we should be doing. Worse, sometimes these are our family and friends.
While it’s difficult, sometimes we have to limit our interactions with these people and focus on those who help us soar. Being the nice people we tend to be as caregivers we don’t feel comfortable telling them to take a flying leap (even when we REALLY want to), but we CAN put limits on our time. “I’d love to talk, but I only have 5 minutes” (seriously, set a timer if you have to). “It’s great talking to you every day, but I really need to focus on my loved one. Why don’t we set up a time to chat later this week?” “There’s someone at the door/the oven timer’s going off/what the? I have to go!” Trust me, I’ve used all of these AND MORE to put some limits out there without feeling like I’m being a total jerk or worse.
There are a million polite ways to end a conversation that is starting to sap your energy. USE THEM. You have my permission to leave the turkeys in the dust while you step in to your regal eagle life!
I was first introduced to hypnosis more than 10 years ago when I was in a funk. I wanted to lose some weight and thought hypnosis would help. I’d heard mixed reviews, but I did some research and decided to give it a try.
I found Ardean and she helped me work on my self-esteem and self-image (which was the root cause of my weight gain). She also introduced me to the world of Silva Method and a whole world of mind over matter. It changed my world. It opened doors for me to feel like I had more control over my life and the situations around me. It made me feel confident and powerful.
This spring I saw an advertisement to learn how to be a hypnotherapist myself. I jumped at the chance. How amazing would it be to help people in the same way Ardean helped me? I enjoyed every minute of the training, engaging with my classmates, and practicing our skills together. I loved it so much that I signed up immediately for the subsequent coaching, neuro-linguistic practitioner, emotional freedom technique, and mastery courses. I spent the next four months spending my free time and two full weeks of intensive training absorbing all I could about these techniques and practicing them with my peers to hone my skills so I can use them to help others live their best life.
What is hypnosis? Believe it or not, you’ve already experienced hypnosis. Ever drive somewhere and now remember how you got there? Hypnosis! Ever daydreamed? Hypnosis! OK, that’s a little oversimplified, but seriously, it’s that easy. Unlike what you see on stage in Vegas, you can only be hypnotized with your permission. A good hypnotherapist uses your own words and wishes in an ethical and ecological way (meaning for the good of all involved) to implant them in your unconscious mind to bring them to fruition. Many people utilize hypnosis to address smoking cessation, weight loss, stress reduction, self-esteem, and similar issues.
Is hypnosis right for you? It most certainly could be. Tapping into your subconscious mind can help you access powers you don’t know you have. Can help instill skills you desire or release habits you don’t. Can implant a sense of confidence and self-worth. Can help you be a better caregiver. Can help you be a better you.
For more information about hypnosis or other services from Turtle Mountain Wellness, please check out our website and submit a client application for direct communication regarding your needs and goodness of fit.