I am a great believer of "putting it in writing."
I have, over the years, used this outlet to relieve stress, anger, and to show other emotions that I can't always express vocally.
As caregivers, you and I have moments—and sometimes hours—of extreme frustration over the daily occurrences of dealing with our loved ones, especially if their condition involves Alzheimer's or another form of dementia.
When Charlie digs in his heels and says he is (or is not) going to do something that might be in his best interest, I feel like I am about to blow. This is when it is time to take a step back and put my frustrations on paper.
I recently signed up for a writing course offered by a local author. The course has shown me how to effectively express myself, without taking it out on Charlie. It has also given me a way to leave a written legacy for our children.
What began as an exercise to write two pages about a place we remember from the past, has become a good start on a memoir of our lives.
What began as an exercise to write two pages of dialogue about something, has become a novel—yes, a novel—about a woman coping with a parent who has dementia.
It's quite likely that neither of these documents will ever be published, but they have given me a relaxing way to say certain things, without losing my temper or causing hard feelings.
Charlie has his own way of putting it on paper.
He keeps a calendar at his side. He writes everything he does, all day long, on this calendar and refers to it periodically throughout the day to refresh his memory about what he's done and what he still has to accomplish before the days end.
Yes, it's messy! I'm not sure how he makes any sense out of it – in fact I'm pretty sure he doesn't. But whether it is because of his dementia, or his copious writing of notes doesn't really matter.
What does matter, is that he is expressing himself in a form that doesn't hurt anyone else and gives him some peace of mind.
So, the next time you find yourself overcome from the stress of a situation, try sitting down and writing about what it is that is driving you nuts, making you feel sad, or making you happy.
You don't have to be an accomplished writer, just say it!
I've found that some days, once I start, I can't stop.The words just keep pouring out. Who knows, you may end up writing the next great American novel.