As I've spoken about in many of my posts, since the last week of November, things have been accumulating on my "Pile It on List" of stress. It sometimes feels like we are breaking even as my wife and I will take a couple steps ahead, only to go back 1-3 steps with our health / life. Fortunately, we're great together, but sometimes life's stress takes it out of us. For me, I'm combatting that by operating on a written list of job tasks. It's really helping, and I win every time I color a line black or yellow.
This keeps me from being too stressed, though I'm not as orderly as I should be. That said, I'm working on it and keeping myself in that mode of us "Must do / will do."
I recommend this for other Parkies and caregivers. Heck, I recommend this to everyone.
The point of life is to live it, but also to rewire ourselves for the what ifs. If we are taking care of someone else and not taking care of ourselves, both of us aren't in a good place since our energy tanks are low. As I said, the key is eliminate the faulty wiring and get ourselves ready for what's to come. We can do this many ways, but we need to prepare ourselves for the what ifs (relationships, job, family, cars breaking down, houses succumbing to the weather, sickness, disagreement, and other things that could happen day to day). These are the things everyone goes through, but this person doesn't always know how to deal with them or feel like he or she can get out from underneath.
Here, if we're so inclined, we can think of Camus' take on Sisyphus, who was condemned to role a boulder up the hill only to have it go back every time. The central question was whether or not it was right to give in. Camus went with the idea of the absurdist hero, who stays true to his plight in the hope that someday he will be free.
As Albert Camus said, "I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."
Let's look at this with a simple definition. Stress is what it sounds like: A pile of bricks pushing down on our chests like we're Giles Corey. Generally, we aren't like this historical figure screaming out for "more weight" as the Salem Witch Trials took his life, but some of us do dig our own pitfalls and compound our problems (I'm very experienced at this - but I'm learning to be better). Here, the best advice I can give is to learn from mistakes and not make them again. That said, we need not stay out of fray where things can go all or nothing, when they're much more likely to end poorly. Nevertheless, by giving it our all with the greatest help, simply by trying, at least we made an attempt. Whether it wins big or crashes to earth, at least we can celebrate ourselves for giving our all.
Let's just go into it with enough advice and assistance. In doing this, by thinking about our time in the game, we can reflect on how we've at least tried when we think of all the people who won't, can't, and don't want to risk failure (I'm working on accepting life success in this way, too). What good is contemplating a game we're never going to play?
How can you give your best effort until you stepped in the ring?
Another point to this concept of keeping ourselves out of trouble is that we don't have to make every decision on the spot. Sometimes, we need to think about it first (I'm also an expert at not doing this enough) and phone a friend. By cutting out the need to do, we can meditate, pray, seek advice, and / or search for evidence. That's a good thing.
Some people may not be aware that there are tests to monitor the stress in people's lives. Perhaps, this is because they have never heard of stress reviews by name, but my belief is that we've all done something like the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale in order to find out what's ailing us. Sometimes, this rewiring we're going it about knowing the rules of the game. Find a mentor, remove what doesn't need to be, find a support system, and project goodness out to the world. It may only give you a couple points back, but as you go, the things it teaches will become natural and instinctive.
Which brings us back to MWAH!
Nevertheless, I've been trying to work my way through all of these stress building experiences in a way that doesn't leave me feeling existential. As I said, I'm motivated to do things when they are written out on a list. Here, I feel like I'm working hard when I cross things off on my color coded to do list (pictured above). However, other times... not so much. Long live the Parkinson's exhaustion tendency that gets in the way... NOT!
In my mind, I know what I have to do (stay loose / stay positive), so I reflect on the simple things that make me happy OR things that I am thankful for.
We'll start with advice (#1) from my cousin David....