Depression is a horrid side effect of taking care of someone who has dementia. I am worn down not only by my mother's illness, but also by wearisome physical problems of my own, and I have an embarrassed suspicion that some of those symptoms are magnified by depression and grief. Why embarrassed? Because of long schooling that such suffering is not "real."
But it is.
Grief and depression can feel like a bad case of the stomach flu. Logic tells us it is temporary, but our suffering hearts and bodies don't really believe it. I was weeping before the Lord this morning and was reminded--and want to remind my fellow caregivers--of His compassion. He knows our hearts. He loves us. He won't let go.
This morning I felt overwhelmed by upset over our messy yard, dandelions peeking through the grass, and a broken down chain link fence (courtesy of our great big yellow lab named "Moose"). Everything seemed horrid. I can't even express the despair I felt over the hedges that will need to be trimmed and the stains on the side of the vinyl (vinyl-ugh!!)) siding.
I took a nap.
When I woke up I still felt despair. But I pulled out my phone and scrolled through the photos of our baby granddaughter. She visited for a few hours yesterday, and the photos show her full repertoire of expressions, which, for a four-month-old, are truly amazing. She is adorable whether pouty, flirty, mad, sad, or joyful.
I then donned an eccentric looking sunhat (necessitated by my newly diagnosed Rosacea) and, averting my eyes from the mirror next to the door, went outside. The dog-who-destroyed-our-fence came dancing up to me and bowed, hind end in the air, tail wagging. I relented and patted his head. He went into an ecstasy of blundering happiness and offered me his favorite bone (when I reached for it, he changed his mind, but still).
I wandered out to last year's flower garden. I couldn't pick up a hoe or get to my hands and knees because of a fibromyalgia/arthritis flare, but I found that the sage had overwintered and plucked a handful. And last year's rosemary is still fragrant; it was such a mild winter. I love the scent of rosemary.
I came back inside, cleaned the kitchen, and put a chicken on to stew. Onion, sage, celery, garlic, and rosemary--oh my goodness; aromatherapy! I went back outside, shooed the dog away and sat on the porch. It is absolutely amazing how much better things looked. The lawn was still unmown, the fence looked terrible still, but I felt better. And I like my little yellow house, vinyl siding included.
On some days the heaviness of sorrow nearly paralyzes me, but if I can just open my Bible, pray, and maybe go ahead and cry, I'm released to move forward.
God is good. We are blessed. The Lord is with us in the sorrow and He will bring us through.
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow,
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.
--from the Hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness