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Mary is 73. She's quite healthy, except for discomforts now and then. During a check-up with her family doctor, when asked how are things, she answers "Quite well actually. Except the nervous exhaustion"

I have to tell you that her husband has Alzeimer's Disease and Mary is his carer. A difficult situation for anybody.

However, Mary is not exactly just anybody. Mary knows of EFT, and uses it daily, to support her husband, and of course herself.

So, during our next EFT session, when she tells me about the story at the doctor's, I ask her when the last "exhaustion" episode was. Mary thinks about it for a while. She remembers difficult moments, sometimes very difficult, in the past few weeks, or even just 2 days before.

But every time she adds : "Well, it wasn't really exhaustion, though, because X or Y helped me", or "... because I tapped". Thinking a little bit more : "Actually, I always tap now before it becomes too difficult." The last real exhaustion episode ends up being more than 5 months before.

So I get to the next level : "Since you now know that you can tap, and since the exhaustion is not what it used to be, how come you answered this to the doctor?" Of course, the point was not to raise guilt or to judge, but only to try and unroot this "exhaustion".

Mary corrects her own words: "I didn't really say I was exhausted. But that I was about to be exhausted".

I pushed a bit further: "Even with EFT? Even with the support you now benefit from with your friends and family?"

After a long silence, Mary answers shyly: "well, actually everybody tells me I will be. As a matter of fact, people tell me many things. Some look at me with pity. Those ones really annoy me. And some tell me that they would never find the strength. But, really, I don't really have a choice, do I?What else could I do? Those who are telling me "you're so courageous" or who are looking at me with admiration actually add to my burden, because they make me feel different, and that increases this "uneasy" feeling."

I take this opportunity to remind Mary that indeed, a few months ago, she didn't really know if she could face it all. To tell the truth, she couldn't even say the word "Alzheimer" without getting in tears immediately. I also remind her that she does get through all this way better than anybody would have ever thought possible. And for most people, it's difficult to understand, and even sometimes to accept, that she could cope so well.

A lot of things have changed since the diagnostic. Mary has gone a long way. True, every day brings new challenges, and Mary is often tired. As she puts it : "I don't know where I'd be without EFT!" All these people commenting on the threat of nervous exhaustion don't know about EFT and the support Mary gets from it. Mainly, they underestimate the resources Mary discovers within herself every day.

Mary's role is difficult, nobody could argue about this. It is critical that she shall take care of herself, and she understands it fully. At the beginning, she tried to do it all on her own. She since learned to accept the help that was offered to her, or even to ask for help when necessary. For example, even though all their children live very far away, one of their daughters is visiting regularly for full week ends at a time. Mary is really grateful for the support she brings, just by being there, and also the help she brings in dealing with paperwork. Another son took care of all legal aspects. Another huge relief which allows Mary to breathe more freely.

Mary also learned to keep some time for herself. She prepares for the future, as difficult as it may seem. She reviewed with her children her options in various aspects, financial, medical, and in terms of housing for the future, for her and her husband. Looking at it closely brought her peace, allowing her to deal with her fears, one by one. She recently asked: "do you think I should make up my mind and leave John in a home for a few days so I could have a little holiday?". Answer: "Certainly not if you will use that time to worry and feel guilty. Absolutely yes when you'll feel comfortable with it, and will have found a home you trust and where John feels OK. As everything else, you can prepare for that".

It appeared important to me to share this conversation for 2 reasons :

even when we're well meaning, when speaking with people who are in difficult situations, should we wonder if our comments might add to the stress instead of relieving it?

On the other hand, how much should we care for the look in other people's face or the comments they make to us, even when they really are well meaning?

As we say in French, those who give advice are not those who will pay. Do know your own strengths and build on them. Don't let others take that away from you with their comments. Others being friends and family, or, much worse, medias!

Know yourself and trust yourself.

And of course keep tapping! Take really good care of yourself.

Christine Disant

PS : Mary wanted to use this opportunity to share her own message with all the people in her situation: "Meet as many competent people as you can, even if they are not from the conventional medical world. Their help will be invaluable for you to manage this. Accept the love and proposal for help in all areas from the people around you. That will give you a "capital" of critical strength. By all means, do not cut yourself off. Keep on with your social life, making the necessary arrangements to it. Do this for you and the person you care for, they need it too. Discourage those who want to take pity on you. And do accept to use EFT, you'll dig in there an energy you would never have believed you possessed."