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Keeping the lid on. Saturday March 21, 2015

It is now obvious that my father was bi-polar. In those days it was put down to moodiness, and if it went too far you had a 'voluntary' session in the local 'loony' bin (I spent my childhood very near one, the patients who were 'allowed out' my mates and I found hilarious – even flashers did not cause us much alarm).

In my thirties I seemed to be going the same way, was carted into a London Hospital with ambulance bells jangling and let out with a 'discharge' card: 'suffering from mania'. My husband was then told to keep me asleep for a week, throwing a couple of Mogadon when I woke up. All through this scary time I had one thought, I must not harm my children, and I would walk away up the field when I felt my control slipping.

Now I am coping with a husband with Alzheimer's disease – nothing unique, hundreds of thousands of us are 'coping' until we don't. Despite every strategy, my 'lid' flies off more than Stevenson's watched kettle.

When it all started our charming GP, a Korean who came here with his parents, said 'Be kind'. I printed the nicest picture of my garden, and wrote 'Be kind, stay positive, keep cool'. As a mantra it's been binned – I have a picture of a most beautiful mosque (no significance) with 'I will live' scrawled across it.

Keep cool? Joke. I'm not hysterical, but I have hysterics. I used to despise tearful women, but I am too often in tears. My pride is in tatters, it must be possible to manage this scenario, deflect rows, reason kindly when the fifth pair of shoes is rejected, gently suggest that if the room is baking you turn the electric fire off. Those who are in the same position will know the value of the word 'respite'. Not just a lazy Sunday morning to do what you like, but a day to be savoured, to be normal, and 'keep your hair (lid) on'.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Sat, Mar 21st 2015 @ 6:13am

Morning, it's evident from your blog that you love in bucket loads. And you will be exhausted.
I empathise muchly, I have a very different set of circumstances but I recognise myself in there. The frustrations, the reducing of expectations, the folding away of hope.
Help is only good if it's helpful and it's too often not as the persons behaviour needs to be learned over time if you have half a chance of getting a result. And so alone it is. My best coping method is to make full use of any sleep time. Sometimes I'm in bed for the night extremely early but if I can I will. It's the only way I can cope. You love in bucket loads and it will come back to you eventually, I know it. Sending love to you in your thankless day and hoping you get a little garden time. Love from the toom zbove the garage x.

Anonymous Sat, Mar 21st 2015 @ 7:20am

Our circumstances were trying too, trying to cope at home for nineteen years with a young person with severe autism and learning difficulties. I so recognise the frustration you encounter daily except that we were younger then. Respite is so precious, never feel guilty, you are always doing your best and reasoning doesn't always work, alas. Push for more respite if you can, because you will never get enough. My heart goes out to you, and I wish I were on the spot to help. A sense of humour and play acting are invaluable but be kind....on YOURSELF! Xxxxx

Hopeful One Sat, Mar 21st 2015 @ 7:43am

Hi The Gardner- Anonymous 7.20 expresses my feelings exactly having been there myself. May I give you a cyber hug for what you have managed? I would venture to say it is much more difficult for a man.The skills do not come naturally.But there are hilarious moments like when I bought some bras for my beloved ( having had a tutorial from a kind assistant) and was standing in the queue to pay unaware that I was holding them in my hand when the gentleman behind me said' I did not know you were across dresser.' Much love.

Judith Sat, Mar 21st 2015 @ 8:35am

Dear Mrs Gardener,
I think you are magnificent.

Judith Sat, Mar 21st 2015 @ 8:47am

NO human being is meant to been managing these hideous situations alone. We are group animals, really, and if "it takes a village to raise a child" it certainly takes one to be there at the other end of things. And when a loved one starts behaving weirdly, even though logically we know it is because of illness, we also imagine that they're doing it on purpose. I remember when my father starting walking with a stoop. I was livid and vile and told him to stand up straight and stop pretending to be old. But he was old, and I couldn't bear it so I was livid. To anybody out there who is coping with daily horror on top of his or her internal horror, you are fantastic and accompanied by orchestras. Or you should be. With love from someone whose sofa flinches when it sees her because she's spent so many leaden years on it that it really wishes it could hide behind the small armchair.

Sarah Sat, Mar 21st 2015 @ 8:52am

I agree you are magnificent. Your blog is so honest and moving. The words " as a mantra it's been binned" an example.

Adam Sat, Mar 21st 2015 @ 9:22am

Thinking of you and sending you strength.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sat, Mar 21st 2015 @ 10:49am

Incredibly moving and making me grateful for all that I have in my life. Memo to self: cherish "normal" family more.

Anonymous Sat, Mar 21st 2015 @ 5:56pm

Some people seem to go through life with no real worries. Others like you get them all. I am full of admiration. Alzheimers must be such a lonely illness for a carer to live with as you lose the person you love bit by bit. You are in my prayers.

Leah Sat, Mar 21st 2015 @ 9:03pm

I am in awe of you and your compassion. Thanks for sharing in such an eloquent way.

Anonymous Sat, Mar 21st 2015 @ 9:56pm

What a difficult situation after managing to survive mismanaged mental health. Mind you that was all the situation in those days and not much better these days. Don't lose yourself whilst coping with all of this. You can find support and friends in 12 step groups. Many will mimic the same words you have. 'You didn't cause it, you can't fix it' and we have to believe that some sort of god will also take take care of our loved ones and us too, whatever we see that entity as. We can only try and fix ourselves.

anthea Thu, Mar 26th 2015 @ 6:00pm

lots of strength and love to you. Hope you find more respite care to re energise
your coffers ( to mix metaphors!) for your trying and loving task.

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