Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Little “a” and Big “A”

Little “a” is my new name for Alzheimer’s.  I came up with that name from my friends that have battled against cancer and they call it Little “c”.  By calling it Little “a”, it takes away its power.  Since my mother was diagnosed I have given Little “a” too much power.  At times I allowed it to make me feel overwhelmed, useless, and helpless.  I allowed Little “a” to bring the darkness upon me.  The darkness is my name for depression.  I have dealt with the darkness before, such as when I was laid off unexpectedly and when my father passed away.  Little “a” momentarily had me thinking there was no way out of the darkness, that all was lost.  Fortunately with the support of my husband I reached out and got the help that I needed.

Part of my early treatment with Little “a” meant joining a Little “a” care giver support group, going to see my therapist (everyone should have a therapist on speed dial), and being placed on a low dosage anti-depressant.  I know there are many in the African-American and faith communities that look down on those that seek mental health treatment – either it’s for weak-minded / truly crazy people or those who do not have strong faith.  I do not prescribe to either of those ways of backward thinking.  As far as I am concerned, mental health is just as important as physical health.  Unfortunately that even though I was on the right path with facing the darkness, I did not fully deal with it.  I was doing just enough to cope and get by.

To keep the darkness from Little “a” off my back I threw myself into my training and racing.  Being physically active is a great way to battle the darkness, but I was not giving myself a lot of downtime to really process how I was feeling and how my life was changing.  Since my race season is pretty much over, I have had the time to really process my feelings and come to some truths.  More importantly, I’m embracing Big “A,” Acceptance. 

I have Accepted the fact that even though I’m a fixer, I cannot fix my mother.  She has Little “a”.  I don’t how far her illness will progress or how long she will be able to live at home.  All I can do is rely on my faith, hope for the best, and do what I can to help her.  I have Accepted that my mother is dependent upon me and our relationship is changing.  At times I’m more of the mother figure, but there are still days when God blesses me by giving me glimpses of my mom pre-Little “a”.  I've Accepted to no longer fight the additional responsibilities that I have to take on, but instead embrace them.  I have the opportunity to pay her back just a little for all she has done and sacrificed for me.  Even though my mother and I are very close, prior to Little “a” she and I lived very separate lives.  We would talk a couple of times per day several days per week, but we saw each other about twice a month.  I would be doing my own thing and she would be doing hers.  This is a special time for us.  I have Accepted that it’s ok to be angry about Little “a,” as long as I’m not angry at my mom.  She didn’t ask for this and she has very little control over it.  All she can do is take her meds and stay mentally active to slow it down.  Lastly, and most importantly, I have Accepted that my situation with my mom could be so much worse!  There are plenty of care givers who would love to change places with me.  My mom doesn’t give me any trouble; she and I work as a team.  She values my guidance and is very appreciative for everything that I do for her.  Yes Little “a” is a spawn from hell, but I’m determined to make the best of this situation.

As always thank you for reading my post, and if you have not done already, please consider click here to make a donation on my Athletes to End Little “a” fundraising page.          

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