Kate from over at Shake, Rattle and Roll has just recently posted a very interesting blog about PWP and their Type A personality spouses, in this case, a man. She askes Dr. Carolyn Zeiger, clinical psychologist and PWP spouse, what her thoughts on the matter are. According to Dr. Zeiger:
I would recommend referring the PWP to a licensed mental health professional who is experienced in working with people who have a chronic, progressive illness, better yet, experience with PD itself. The background of the therapist matters because he or she needs to be able to differentiate, for example, PD-based anxiety or depression from that which is psychological in origin. Problems that appear to be psychological can be neurological and vice versa. The therapist needs to consult with the PWP’s neurologist on occasion. The PWP needs to have what it takes to go for counseling with or without her husband's consent. If he won't drive her, find a friend who will. Perhaps, in time, husband will come too if that's what's needed.
Almost nobody with PD that I have met, or their caregiver, is in therapy. (I do know a couple that has been in therapy for years to deal with each thing as the PD progresses.) At some point, every one of us could use a little help, both PWPs and their caregiver-spouses. I found it enormously beneficial to see a grief counselor to get beyond my overwhelming sense of loss when my husband was diagnosed with PD. Therapy doesn't need to be long term. Just one session did me a world of good.
It would be good for the support group to create a list of qualified professionals, both neuropsych and grief counselors, (as I did for ours), and give it to everyone in the group to have in their "PD Survival Kit," so to speak. The list is right there if they need it, and they don't have to ask anyone, to publicly reveal their distress, to be able to get help.
Your friendly neighborhood shrink and PWP spouse,Carolyn
Carolyn Allen Zeiger, Ph.D.Clinical and Health Psychologist
So this really got me thinking - should Keith and I really go to a therapist? Do we really need it? I have said for months now that Keith and I could both benefit from some type of therapy in regards to his PD. I especially think Keith would benefit from it. I am still not convinced that he does not suffer from mild depression, and let's face it - it would be pretty depressing to be diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Even if he's not depressed I just think it would be a good idea to be able to talk with an objective individual about all the emotional issues that stem from having PD - fear, anger, sadness, stress - I could go on and on. There have recently been several issues that have come up where I truly did not know if it was PD related or if it was just Keith being Keith. So the idea of having a therapist with a background in chronic, progressive illnesses, as Dr. Zeiger suggested, really appeals to me.
Keith and I are usually very open and honest about everything, especially his PD. But there are times when I just keep things to myself, and I'm sure he does the same. I know we both worry a lot about the future. We stress over money and health insurance and who will take care of him and the kids if something happens to me. He tells me about his fear of not being able to enjoy life, of having to rely on everyone else for the simplest tasks, of not being around to see grandchildren one day. I tell him how difficult it is to watch him go through all of this, to see his strength decrease day by day, to see him choke or stumble. I have all the same worries and fears he does. But sometimes I just keep things to myself. For instance, a few nights ago Keith offered to wash the dinner dishes for me. There weren't that many and I'd had a hard day, so of course I agreed. I went upstairs with Rielly-Anne to put her down for the night. As I'm lying there nursing her to sleep, the entire time I'm thinking about how glad I am that when I go back downstairs the kitchen will be clean and I can actually relax for once.
An hour later as I'm making my way down the stairs I hear the water running in the kitchen and the unmistakable clatter of dishes being washed. I immediately got mad. The first thing that came to my mind was "What the hell is taking him so long? PD my ass. He just sat on HIS ass until me heard me coming down the stairs, now he's trying to hurry up and get them done!" Yes, that's what I thought, I am ashamed to admit. But then I saw him standing at the sink and everything changed. He was stooped over. His left leg was shaking. His shoulders were stiff. His left arm was stiff and had been carefully place in the sink. A plate had been very carefully placed in his left hand. He was struggling to hold on without dropping it, while trying to wash it with his right hand. His entire body was swaying lightly in almost every direction. He looked up when he heard me and said, "Almost done babe. Just got this plate and the silverware left to do." At that exact moment I wanted to sink right through the floor. I was clearly very wrong. Yes, it was the PD that kept him from doing something as fast as I thought it should be done. Not only did I feel like crap for having those thoughts, it just broke my heart to see him standing there like that struggling with something as mundane as washing the dishes.
I never told him what I was thinking when I was coming down the stairs that night. But there have been other similar instances. I don't want to tell him these things - I just don't think he needs to know that sometimes I get really impatient with him. But I do think it would do me good to tell someone. So maybe a shrink is in order after all?
I would love to be able to get Keith to one, but the way he is I just don't see that as happening anytime soon. I did notice, though, that he has marked on the calendar when the next PD support group is . . . . .