Am I Still a Mental Health Blogger?

from Kitt O’Malley

Kitt O'Malley

Self, Wife, Mother, Caregiver, Writer, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate

What defines being a blogger, specifically a mental health blogger? Must I write regularly or frequently? Must I always write about mental health? What if that is not my focus ALL the time? What if I’m so busy that living with bipolar disorder is not in the forefront of my mind? What if I’m overwhelmed by my life circumstances? What if I’m simply taking a break?

I’m not the most disciplined writer. Never been one for discipline; though, I do brush and floss my teeth every night. My house is a mess – dusty and cluttered. I bathe or shower (I prefer to bathe) at least once a week. (You are probably disgusted by this admission. I try not to move too much, so I don’t sweat and get stinky. Yes, I know I should exercise daily. And, eat better. Just because I know better, doesn’t mean I do better.)

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Caregiving Can Wear You Down #RealTalkAboutCare

Remember to take care of yourself!

Kitt O'Malley

My mother, father, & I in watercolor filter

Since Thanksgiving weekend, I’ve been sick with an upper respiratory infection (URI). As an asthmatic, URI’s tend to go to my lungs. My son, too, is sick and in bed (no way for a teenager to spend the weekend). URI’s are highly contagious. We tend to share far too many illnesses in my family. Even our labradoodle Thumper is taking antibiotics for a cough.

Until my mother had a stroke November 2015, she was my father’s caregiver. Since then, caregiving has become my responsibility, as now both my parents have dementia. My father has alcohol-related dementia (alcohol is a neurotoxin). My mother now has vascular dementia with behaviorial complications (brain damage can do that) and she cannot speak.

As I live with bipolar disorder while parenting an adolescent migraineur, I couldn’t care for two aging parents with dementia without help, for doing so would likely put me in a…

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Sundowning

Alzheimer’s disease is painful for everyone involved.

Suburban Hobo

Mom at party(Mom in her green polka dot dress)

“Who did your hair?” she said.

“My hair stylist,” I said.

“I don’t like it. The girls are wearing it long these days.”

I removed my headband, as if that would make a difference.

“You’ve gained so much weight,” she said, scrunching up her face.

“I’m sorry my appearance offends you,” I said.

“Oh, everything’s all wrong. Where are my clothes? The clothes in the closet don’t belong to me!” she said, hyperventilating. “What happened to Grandpa’s house?”

“What do you mean? Grandpa in Wisconsin?”

“No, when he lived with Rony.”

“Mom, Grandpa’s been dead for years,” I said.

“But what about my sister? Can’t I go there?”

“Mom, Rony is dead.”

“What?” she said, her face terrified in disbelief.

“She died several years ago. She had a heart condition.”

“I know she had a heart condition, but I didn’t know she…

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Caregiver’s Bill of Rights

Caregivers, remember yourselves….

Kitt O'Malley

National Aphasia Association logo

National Aphasia Association Caregiver’s Bill of Rights

I have the right to take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the ability to take better care of my loved one.

I have the right to seek help from others even though my loved one may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.

I have the right to maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can do for this person and I have the right to do some things just for myself.

I have the right to get angry, be depressed, and express difficult feelings occasionally.

I have the right to reject any attempt by my loved one (either conscious or unconscious) to…

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