Been two months since I posted. This time of year time’s an elusive beast: months go by like days, and in a blink of an eye, Winter is coming. I’ve been busy at work, writing another novel, cleaning my house and keeping my OCD at its bay with journaling and therapy.
Stress is a huge OCD trigger for me. With the elections this past month, catastrophic thinking explodes and seems all too real. What if everything Trump promised comes true and you’ll start getting shipped away… What if what if what if… It can be hard to tell what’s just fear mongered by the media and what’s a ‘real’ threat.
Stress #2 is my mom. She doesn’t really stress me out, it’s the changes that MS brings in her and how to interact. Right now, I lay in my mom’s old bed as I help clean out the contents of her house. The house is on the market and she’s been in assisted living for almost a year. Her short-term memory comes and goes, but her long-term memory isn’t too bad right now. I’m trying to learn to accept where she is right now but it’s hard. I only see her every few months, so I don’t really know where she’s at when I see her.
My mom has a lot of stuff and while thrift shopping is fun, we really don’t need anything, so I’m trying to find activities for us to do that don’t involve buying things.
So I took Mom to see a movie in the theater for the first time in 20 years yesterday. She bravely walked from the parking lot to the box office. Another long walk to get to the theater and I can tell she was struggling. I offered for her to use a wheelchair but she didn’t want to. She often refuses to use a wheelchair when I see her right leg isn’t moving at all. By the time we were halfway to the theater, she sat down and looked exhausted.
At this point, I said we’re going to use a wheelchair to get into the theater and she agreed. But the movie theater didn’t have any wheelchairs to my shock. The manager used a wheelie-chair to get my mom into the theater while I was hoping she wasn’t too embarrassed. Got to the front row and immediately during the previews she started yelling at the loud sounds. I thought ‘oh God maybe this was a bad idea’. I thought this would be a fun treat since we used to watch movies together in the living room. Once the movie started though, she really enjoyed it, even though she did yell a lot. ‘What’s that what’s that who’s that?’ as if we were in her living room. I had to remind her a few times other people were in theater (only two other families way in the back) but she didn’t seem to quite understand that concept. It was fun watching her amazement as magical beasts flew by on the screen and she said “whoa whoa whoa.’
At the beginning of the movie, I went to go get us some popcorn and when I returned, my mom said in surprise “hey I know you.” She’s been pretty good lately when I pop in the room she will say “look its my my daughter” or “there she is” and I know she recognizes me. She introduces me as her daughter to everyone so they’re still strong memories there. I know with her condition her mind is affected and one day she won’t remember. But today, we are going to have some fun and go to the aquarium. I’m going to bring her wheelchair just I’m case.
I feel like my mind is trying to put a puzzle together when I’m around her- looking at all the new pieces and not really even sure what the puzzles is quite gonna look like when it’s put together. Pieces are shifting, so I treat each moment as it is whenever I can. My mind tends to race and make up stories, so it can be really hard to stay in the moment.
Yesterday I noticed my OCD mind triggering under the stress. I’m reading a book right now that discusses trying to get in touch with feelings in the body versus getting caught up in the thoughts. It also talks about reversing thoughts. For instance, an ambiguous thought pops in like ‘I really hate this ‘ when I’m seeing my Mom struggle with walking. The more concrete thought is ‘I hate seeing my Mom struggle’ and then if I can pause, I can touch upon the feeling. ‘I hate seeing my Mom struggle’ and this makes me feel ‘sad and helpless.’ I might even turn the thought around to ‘I really hate feeling sad and helpless when seeing my mom struggle.’
I know I may have some more anxiety flare-ups and it helps just knowing to keep things in perspective. I keep trying to have put the shoulds at bay- the a’ I should be feeling this way, I should be doing that’ and they are the hardest sometimes.
And the dance continues. Off to the aquarium now!