I’ve been thinking a lot about my mom lately. Well, not so much about Mom but about caring for her.
My mom died in 2009, and before you all check out on me, I don’t intend this to be a morbid, depressing post. But that time in my life, caring for Mom, was a time of serious weight gain. And recognizing some similar feelings and habits today that were present then, I find myself taking a trip down memory lane.
[Note: I don’t want to give you all the idea that I cared for Mom alone. It was truly a family effort. Sure, she lived with me for a while towards the end of her life, but between my brother and sisters we all made sure Mom was taken care of. I’m eternally grateful for my brother and sisters. I sincerely don’t know what I would have done without them–then or now.]
Moving half way across the US to Tulsa and assuming more care of Mom was extremely stressful for me. I knew no one aside from my brother and sister-in-law. I had no friends, a stressful job that was also about taking care of people, no church home…yet. It was hard. There were times when I would just lay on the couch exhausted from 12 hours of non-stop chaos that is hospital nursing, knowing that in a few hours Mom would be awake and calling for me in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. And a trip to the bathroom wasn’t just a trip to the bathroom. It usually also involved a change of sheets. I got really good at changing sheets half asleep with my glasses off!
My days off of work were full of tasks to complete that were hard to do with Mom in tow. Parkinson’s made walking hard so in public we used a wheelchair. (Try pushing a wheelchair and a grocery cart by yourself!) And dementia made me leery to leave Mom in the house alone. So days off when Mom was in adult day care were about errands and yard work–and naps! There was no exercise or even thoughts of eating healthy. I snacked on whatever was easy to grab. Yeah, you can imagine what my diet looked like.
And of course, there was the emotional aspect of watching this woman who had birthed me, cared for me, and loved me spiral down, galloping towards certain death.
Needless to say, in a year I gained about 30 pounds. Looking back, I can see myself eating–and eating, grabbing whatever was in front of me; I can feel the tension in my body. And yet, back then, I didn’t recognize that tension as stress or the fact that I was stress eating.
Fast forward to today. You can read my story of how I began to lose the weight here. A big part of it was recognizing the triggers for eating and learning different coping mechanisms for stress. Lately, though, I find myself falling back into those stress eating patterns.
Work, while always stressful, has become an even bigger stressor for me. Maybe one day I’ll talk more about that, but just the process of preparing for work and getting through 12 hours of caring for people who are really sick and sometimes rude and grouchy has become an almost insurmountable source of stress. And I find myself reaching for junk food, eating when I’m not hungry–stress eating.
At least I recognize it now, but I’m struggling with those feelings of hopelessness of being able to control it.
The difference is that I know I have the ability to control what and how much I eat. The key is deciding, being determined, to use other means to deal with stress. Food cannot eliminate, or even decrease, my stress. I know that. I’ve learned that. But I’m still struggling…
I have no words of wisdom to share. This is just me, being honest, saying with all my success at weight loss, I still struggle at times. If there’s any encouragement I can give you, it’s that I understand your struggle. It’s not easy when life gangs up on you and old, easy, ways of doing things come back to life. It’s discouraging to be fighting a dragon I thought was dead.
But in all my discouragement and feelings of defeat, I refuse to give in. I’ve been down a better path, and I do NOT want to end up where stress eating will take me. So trips down memory lane are good. I remember where I’ve been and how I got to where I am now. And it makes me (kind of) glad for the struggle. Struggling reminds me that I know a better way and gives me hope that when the next stressful season in life rolls around, I’ll be even stronger and better equipped to deal with it.
So hang in there, friend. You’re not alone! Let’s just make one good choice at a time, okay? One step at a time…
Talk to me:
How are you doing in making healthy choices?
What’s a good stress relief for you?
photo credit: https://activeangelina.wordpress.com/