Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Empathy

Some days are tough.

There is no getting around it.  Some days are just tough to get through without loosing your cool when you're caring for someone who lives in a reality that is different than your own.  Heck, your someone can be in the same reality and still cause a tough day.

Care providers come in all shapes and sizes, ages and abilities.  Care providers may be a young person caring for a grandparent who has dementia, a spouse caring for a loved one fighting cancer, or a parent caring for a child with special needs.  The variations on the theme are, unfortunately, endless.      We may never know that the stressed out person we just encountered hurrying from place to place was a care provider rushing to take care of some business before returning to care for someone in need.  The parent who is waspish with the child in the restaurant may be contending with more than it first appears.

It is easy to overlook the subtle clues that may indicate more is going on that first meets the eye.  The stressed out care provider may be trying to keep the extent of their frustration out of public view and thinks poorly of themselves when they slip and let the irritation be known.

Perhaps I am projecting on that last one.  Then again, some days are tough.

My youngest has anxiety based issues as a result of surviving abuse prior to joining our family.  This can lead to lots of attempts to control when anxiety is high because if the child feels in control, the child feels safer.  These behaviors are primarily directed to me.  I can be told what to cook, when to cook, where to go and what to do.  I can be corrected for anything my child disagrees with and it can be quite pedantic.  I know where these behaviors are coming from but that doesn't make days like this any easier.

The same is true of caring for someone with dementia.  Mom has spent the last few days being corrected about everything and anything.  Lyn's acting as though she's convinced that Mom's a complete idiot.  The corrections are terse and borderline hostile.  Lyn also is trying to control anything that can happen in a day.  She tries to control what Nikka is doing as well as what Mom is doing.  Lyn's behavior also results from anxiety.  Like my little one, if she feels in control, she feels safer.

That's one of the interesting things that Mom and I have witnessed many times over the last three years.  Our children exhibit many of the same behaviors despite their anxiety coming from different causes.  So, on tough days like today, I try to remind myself that my little one has a long way to go and has great potential to become an independent adult.  I try to remind myself that my little one exists in mostly the same reality as me.  I try to remind myself that I have it much easier than Mom does in this regard.

Then I call her and check on her and try to show a bit more empathy for what she's going through because in some ways I actually do understand.


No comments:

Post a Comment