Because like a lot of us, you’re human Ted.
Because when you didn’t know it was a medical problem, you were left with the impression that the behavior was a choice (failure to listen and refusal to form new relationships) and those are things which, when they are choices, are bad behavior deserving of censure. And this is actually a very common phenomenon, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Most people find it extremely difficult to be kind even after they find out the problems are medical, because it’s so difficult to consciously realize that somebody’s mind is actually collapsing — it’s usually difficult to even conceptualize how it works.
Hind sight is always 20/20. You can’t change the past, so it’s useless to beat yourself up over it. Instead, put that energy into what needs to be done now.
The universal human illness is tending to tell ourselves negative stories about what we see and hear. You’re only human, Ted. To your credit, you were able to modify the story you told yourself about your mom’s behavior. Some people cling to negative stories as if they are branches, and they are hanging off of a cliff on them.
I remember making my then 80-something mother cry. Second worst day of my life.
You learned. You are trying. That is so much more than too many others. You are a hero for sharing.
It’s commonly understood, whether evidence proves it true or not, that the more tasks you do for aging people who are capable of doing the tasks themselves, the more they lose their capabilities to accomplish tasks themselves and the more quickly they decline. It’s good for people’s physical and mental health as they age to continue to do what they can for themselves. Encouraging them to continue to engage in daily activities and to accomplish the tasks that they still can do is helpful, healthful, kind, and loving. Alzheimer’s disease, whether diagnosed or not, takes away that possibility. The diagnosis makes it obvious.
It is courageous to admit fault to yourself and you are doing it to a large audience. Not many people can do that.
Dear Ted – check out a story by Flannery O’Connor called Everything That Rises Must Converge…..you’re doing great.
If only we could all have the grace of Ted Rall
Writing a strip about it could be cathartic…
Thank you for sharing your story Mr. Rall. There are instances though when a sick person has negative behaviors that should be curtailed. After his stroke my father-in-law’s patience became exceptionally short. He would snap at my mother-in-law for everything she didn’t do exactly the same way he would have. I have spoken with him about this one-on-one so as not to embarrass him, but she does not need the additional strain either. What you are doing for your mother is exemplary sir.
Because even when you have a close family member who is handicapped and needs your care, you have to remember to preserve your own self first, especially when you are young. It’s the principle of “put on your own (oxygen) mask first.” One of my friends from childhood is seriously mentally ill today because of growing up in the Fifties with a seriously handicapped younger brother. The psychology resembles war PTSD. DO NOT blame yourself for “having thoughts” and for not having been perfect under fire.
It is a slow, sad process. Thank goodness, my mom is close to the end. :-(
I remember as a young woman in the late ‘60s everything I had been taught and inherently felt to be right was slipping away from society. I was becoming a dinosaur before I was 20. Unfortunately, we need a reason for rising above what’s around us and too often the reason is not there. I did find a reason to do what I knew to be right and was able to build a life around it. But it’s not easy, Ted. You try, you fall — and the good ones get up and get back in there, knowing they’ll fall again. That’s courage. That’s also love. Hang in. You’re not supposed to fix it; you’re just supposed to do your best to do what’s right.
And by the way, I’m sure it’s occurred to you that all these people, myself included, comment because they want to share in supporting you in what is essentially a solo flight, and to show how much we care.
Be happy you found your way. I see family members in the facility, just a few, mind you, who still can’t get past the short cycle conversations. “Mom, I just told you…”
I want to reach over and punch them. We’re sitting in a freakin memory care facility and you are STILL oblivious.
A warning I hope you don’t need: You’re going to have to be even more patient and kind when your mother fails to recognize that you’re her son: “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
I’m lucky that there’s no history of this in my family, but I’ve seen it happen with friends.
October 01, 2016
August 17, 2016