On June 1st, I set out to return to Connecticut. My mom made a full recovery and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to mask how depressed I had become one more day. The night before my departure, I took my mom to see my niece’s dance recital. We love watching her dance and I knew it would be good for us both to go. Imagine my surprise when we sat in our seats and without warning or provocation, tears started streaming down my face. I was mortified. I got up from my seat as quickly and as quietly as possible, looked for an unused bathroom, grabbed some tissue and found a darkened hallway to collect myself.I had no idea that this was a reaction to caregiver stress.
I needed an emergency list.
The Emergency List
- Collect yourself.
- If you must cry, don’t let anyone hear you.
- Don’t cause a scene.
- Put a smile on your face.
Luckily my tears stopped around the same time the lights were dimming in the auditorium so I quickly found my seat without anyone noticing I had been crying. Unfortunately that only lasted about 5 minutes. It was uncontrollable. No matter what I did to try and stop the tears; biting my inner cheeks, taking deep breaths, widening my eyes as if that would create a bigger basin for the tears to stay inside – nothing worked. The only saving grace was the fact that it wasn’t an audible cry, just tears. And after the recital was over we took happy, smiling pictures, conversed as we all walked to our cars and not one person asked if I was ok. I successfully followed my list.
The Drive Home
My first stop on the way home was French Lick, Indiana which is about 637 miles. That’s 9 hours and 33 minutes from my parents house in Oklahoma. I stopped twice. Not one time did I turn on the radio. Not one time did I use my bluetooth technology to call someone. Not one time did I make a post on social media. Not one time did I leave my hotel room.
The next stop was Hershey, Pennsylvania, about 656 miles. That’s 10 hours and 12 minutes from French Lick, Indiana. I made two stops. Not one time did I turn on the radio, use my bluetooth technology to call anyone, or post anything on social media. Not one time did I leave my room.
I No Longer Had A List
I no longer had a list, I had one item listed on a piece of paper.
- Drive home
I desperately wanted everything to be better once I got home. Surely two full days and half of another was enough to process my experience, right? At least that’s what I told myself and because I convinced myself that was all the time I deserved, I put a smile on my face and told everyone I was fine. What caregiver stress?
I no longer wanted to make lists.