Anxiety – How Delegation Can Help
Once upon a time, I was a very active person. Taught Sunday school, played guitar in a worship band for 30 years. If there was a volunteer position, I was there. Working mom, extraordinaire. Yes, I was juggling all the balls and still had time to read and learn new skills, knit and crochet; hell, I even sewed my kids clothing until they got old enough to care. After all, who wants to wear something to school made by mom!
So what is anxiety and how did it change my world? By definition, is means “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”
For me, it began with our annual family Christmas dinner a few years ago. Christmas dinner had been my contribution to the Ong family (all 9 of us) for more years than I can count – literally. It was how I showed my love and appreciation for my extended family; bonus, it was the one day out of the year when I knew we would not be eating Chinese food.
My concept of time had not been good for “a few years", which means I have no idea whether it began a few years ago or a week ago, because it's all the same to me. Of course I could reason my way to a specific year, like this:
“It must have started sometime after my chemo in 2007 (do the math in my head and come up with 13 years ago?), BUT, I didn't notice it until my boys started to question my time line on stories I would tell in conversations, where I tried to recall how many years ago something happened, so maybe it wasn't a few years ago,…hmm could it be 13?”
Back to Christmas dinner.
I began to feel anxious about cooking Christmas dinner, weeks before the event. It was the same dishes every year and I knew it by heart. Turkey, gravy (homemade), stuffing, mashed potatoes with sour cream, cranberry sauce (homemade, of course), butternut squash (always mashed), peas and corn. For dessert it was always cheesecake and coffee. We had family in from Michigan and a brother in law from Oakridges. My biggest dread was timing. Whereas it had always come natural to me, now I had to set alarms to make sure I started things on time to complete the whole meal, piping hot, by 5PM.
After a few late starts and late finishes, my anxiety levels where ridiculously high. I began asking my hubby for assistance. He had already begun to question my nervousness and apprehension. One year, I enlisted help from my youngest son. Each year it got harder and harder to handle all the details, until finally, I had to “come out" to the whole family that I couldn't do it anymore. That Christmas, I told our extended family that I had Young Onset Dementia. Last year was the first time I got to spend the whole day playing with my granddaughter while the men in my life cooked! It took all 3 of them to do what I had been doing for the last 29-30 years! But almost everything was ready at 5 and I'd have to say, they did a great job.
I've said all this to say that Young Onset Dementia can affect your mental health. It can lead to anxiety, Agoraphobia and even depression. People with YOD are not disabled, but you may not want to pressure them to do more than they are able. I found delegation to be the “tool” I used to help myself cope with my pressure. Sometimes, letting go of our anxiety “triggers" and asking for help may be all we really need to do. Especially during the holidays, where the hustle and bustle of shopping for loved ones, doing volunteer work and attending Christmas parties can become overwhelming for YOD people. Just wrapping Christmas gifts can be a stressful event, one we always do the night before! Crazy, right?
So, this year, with COVID19 still putting limits on us, I've decided to do things differently. All my Christmas shopping will be done online. I will wrap gifts as I buy them, or better yet, will use bags and tissue.=D I'm limiting my volunteer work to the Christmas Kettle at the mall. And no Christmas parties or turkeys. And I'm sure my anxiety levels will be much lower this year.
“Peace on earth; goodwill towards men.“ (Luke 2)
Walk with me.
Rose (Girouard) Ong is a writer, poet, retired accountant, married for 34 years, mother, grandmother and a founding member of YODA Group (Young Onset Dementia Action Group) that meets through Memory Lane Home Living (www.memorylanehomeliving.ca). To be part of this conversation, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
“In a dark place, we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way” - Yoda