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Sept. 16, 2020

Fighting Frustration

Fighting Frustration

Caregivers experience quite a few dark, negative emotions. Often they are ashamed to shared such feelings aloud. J Smiles tackles frustration in hopes of normalizing this "negative" expression.

She uses a variety of funny and not-so-humorous memories with Zetty to drive the point home.  According to Smiles, frustration looms always. She sites expert's coping mechanisms throughout the episode. Even better J Smiles digs deep, tells the truth and leaves the listener with her own bag of tricks to minimize frustration.

Smiles ends reminding the listener to Snuggle UP to reality... encourages everyone to join the LIVE caregiving conversation on Getvokl.com every Monday night... and to signup for Parenting UP! emails.


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Caregiver.org (Frustration)

J Smiles:

Frustration is defined as a feeling of being upset or annoyed, particularly because of an inability to change or achieve something, y'all see where I'm going with this. That's just the blue collar run of the mill, regular old definition in regular old dictionary old situation. iIn psychology, superduper frustration comes when there is extreme causes of physical roadblocks to difficult tasks that involve the perception of wasting your time when your environment and your situation is so extraordinary, that you know an angle never be any different. And the frustration becomes intense. So y'all, I'm looking at this stuff, and I'm like, whoa. So what you're telling me, you telling me that as a caregiver, I'm about to be frustrated and because I can't do nothing about Alzheimer's I got to stay frustrated. AAHHHH. Parenting Up- caregiving adventures with comedian J Smiles, it's the intense journey of unexpectedly being fully responsible for the well being of my mama. For almost a decade, I've been chipping away at the unknown, advocating for her, and pushing Alzheimer's awareness on anyone in anything with a heartbeat. Spoiler alert- I started comedy because this stuff is so heavy, beready for the jokes. Caregiver newbies, OGs, village members trying to just prop up a caregiver, you are in the right place.


Hi, this is Zetty. I hope you enjoy my daughter's podcast. Is that okay?

J Smiles:

Today's episode fighting frustration. I can't lie the ebbs and flows of frustration may be one of the most difficult things I've had to balance as a caregiver. It is extremely tough on me, I go real high and real law. I am the Democrats and the Republicans when it comes to my emotional approach in caregiving with my mom. Sometimes I want to sling mud and sometimes I want platitudes it's tricky. There's all out war on the inside. By nature, I'm a fixer. I don't know what you mean, that there is no solution. So I am constantly frustrated by this disease because I think will somebody somewhere, has figured it out. And maybe the CDC didn't know and the National Institutes of Health and maybe the Alzheimer's Association hadn't figured it out, but there's probably some obscure doctor or a tribe in Western Samoa and they are squeezing water off of a leaf on a bamboo tree chute. And if I can just google them, and take 12 trains, and 14 canoes, I can get to them and get that bamboo leaf juice to my mama and she'll be okay. I believe for every problem known to man, there is a solution known to the universe. My mind is often frustrated by this disease, as well as my body, my soul, and my heart, it is a mess. My heart gets frustrated by people, is disappointed by promises that other people make and don't quite follow through on. My body gets frustrated by what it cannot do. I get frustrated if my body needs sleep at a time when my mother needs me. I actually get frustrated, like how dare you body? Why are you trying to need a nap in the middle of when Zetty needs to be cleaned or needs a meal. Spiritually I get frustrated when I don't have a positive outlook. Historically, I'm a pretty optimistic person. So it's frustrating to me, when I cannot see the brighter side, then I'm pissed. I'm pissed off when I see that the glass is half empty or if I look at the glass and I'm like there ain't no water in this glass. Some days the frustration is so high, y'all ain't even no glass at all. Frustration is one of the main emotions or feelings that caregivers have listed as a problem that they grapple with on a regular basis. Caregiver.org which is the website that belongs to the Family Caregiver Alliance defines frustration as anytime you feel that you can't do anything right or that things just don't quite go as planned, no matter what you do or how hard you try, you're tired, and you really want to give up. They say, that's when frustration has kicked in. This is what caregiver.org suggest that caregivers can do to cope with frustration- First thing is acknowledge that you're frustrated, and how frustrating caregiving can be. One thing you can do is to notice that you're frustrated. Here are a few things that they point out as signs and indicators- you are tired all the time, even if you got some sleep. Now that could be a sign of depression too. But today, this episode, we're dealing with frustration, perhaps your eating way differently. Frustration may lead to stress eating, substance abuse, and a much higher likelihood to lose your temper. They strongly encourage you to exercise, try to get some sleep to refresh your energy, and reset your psychological balance your hormones and all of that. That's what they say on the.com, nope I'm sorry, that's what they say on the.org the caregiver.org. I'm going to say what J Smiles says when I'm super frustrated real talk, I just got to go ahead and vent. I usually end up getting me some coffee and some Bailey's, I have to watch one of my shows, I'm addicted to the murder shows on ID which is the investigation Discovery Channel. But I like the murder shows that really happened and someone figured it out and that person is either in jail or under investigation. Often something involves a vodka cocktail and that's the way I have to settle my nerves. Maybe the treadmill, but it all depends because sometimes I don't have time to get to the treadmill. The treadmill involves I got to warm my knees up, I got to stretch, then I got to walk to a quick enough pace to get my heart rate up enough to get the frustration out. But that coffee and Bailey's two sips in that frustration is starting to come down, feel what I'm saying? a healthier approach for me with managing frustration is meditation. My meditation instructor is Light Watkins he offers online meditation courses, lightwatkins.com, he is very well respected literally all over the world, I suggest you take a look, check him out. He is fantastic, if you've never tried a structured form of meditating. I appreciate Light's form of teaching, which is the Vedic meditation practice because you can do it anywhere. You could be on a plane, you could be at the movie theater, you could be at Starbucks in the middle of the day and just decide to check out for 20 minutes. I've done that quite a few times. That helps me a ton just to stay calm in the moment because my therapist as well as caregiving.org all of them suggest in a moment of frustration, the first thing to do is to try to physically calm yourself down. And only you know how you can do that, for some of us is just taking a deep breath, maybe leaving out the room for five minutes. Maybe going for a walk, the treadmill, a hot shower, reading a book, closing your eyes, taking a nap coffee amdBailey's. Somebody needs to figure out how to connect me with the Baileys Irish Cream Company cuz I think they should really be a sponsor for the show. But depending on how extreme the frustration is, then you may actually need to have a counselor, you may need to become a part of a caregiver support group. We don't want it to take you down a dark road where it becomes a alcohol or drug addiction or potentially prescription abuse something that would really harm you long term. Let me tell you how frustration can manifest itself physically, so y'all know it could be sneaking up on you. While you think you got it, you think you got it under control. Frustration can come as shortness of breath, a knot in your throat, stomach cramps, chest pain, a headache, compulsive eating, excessive alcohol consumption. Now you got to decide what is compulsive eating for you and excessive alcohol consumption but you know what it is, lack of patience, a desire to strike out at people, but if you can calm yourself down physically or if you can modify your negative thoughts, you know, stop jumping to conclusions, negative conclusions about what happened and what didn't happen and why people did stuff and really figure out a way to ask for help. Ask your caregiving crew, ask them for help, might not be your best friend or your pastor or your neighbor or even your spouse, who are the people who have shown up for you already as a support in your role as caregiver. Lean on them mugs again and yes, I did say mug I do not mean coffee mug, them mugs, I'm from the south southern part of the United And when we say them mugs, we're talking about people. Frustrating events for me with Zetty, my mom, is when she is actually speaking very clearly, very articulately, when it's a good day air quotes. Her energy is high, she's been active, but then out of nowhere, her words stop matching her actions, as many years as I've been her caregiver that can still catch me off guard. And then y'all, I'm frustrated right there in the moment. And the frustration changes, sometimes I'm frustrated with myself, because I feel like I got caught with it, but I'm frustrated with myself because I feel like I got caught with my pants down. And I'm like, J Smiles how did you even get so wrapped up in the moment you sliping chick, now you frustrated because you got caught out there thinking her words and her actions will go match. Because she may say "JG Yes, mama wants something to drink." And I get something to drink. I put the straw to her mouth, but she won't drink it. And I tried three or four times and she won't drink it and I keep trying it and then maybe she goes to move the drink and when she goes to move the drink the juice spills and maybe the juice is red and I have on white pants. Shout out to J Smiles white pants, typically perform in white pants. That's the thing go look at some of my videos, that's a brand issue. So now I'm frustrated because I'm like ah chick, you said you wanted some of my juice, I give it to you, but then I'm frustrated with me because when she said she didn't want now why did I keep pushing the straw, you know what I mean? Anyway, that gets me that still absolutely gets me. When I have to stop in the middle of something when I'm in a groove or in a momentum, maybe it's recording a podcast episode, maybe it's cooking something. When you you know, I'm right down to that last bit and I'm sauting shrimp, or maybe I'm frying oysters, which I fry them just like my grandmother did and she's from New Orleans. And there's a way to fry them with the edge of the oyster is the right kind of crispy and the right kind of golden brown. And you know, every 30 seconds matters when you're flipping those mugs over. And if something happens, and I need to answer a caregivers call, or my mom calls me and I'm like aahhh, right now, like real talk, I just need 37 more seconds. Shout out to my line sister with 37 us on line at Howard University spring 91. Anyway, I'm like just I just need 37 more seconds to finish flipping these last four oysters. Ah, now nobody is dying. My mom is not going in the hospital, but in those moments that can build up. Because y'all got to think about it, if I'm frying oysters, it's the end of the day. How had the rest of the day gone? Did I get a lot of sleep the night before? Have I eaten yet? Have I had all of my meds, all of that can add to how short is my fuse at that time. Oh we, when people reach out to me via any form of communication, email, text, voicemail, and I respond after say 4 or 5pm and then their response to my response is "Oh, I should have known you weren't gonna get back to me because you like to sleep late." Have you all ever seen the Tasmanian devil lose it or if you've seen the movie inside out, or any cartoon where a person is so angry, their body turns into fire or their head explodes? That is how I feel every time I get so frustrated because the implication in their voice in their tone in their words is that I wanted to wake up late as if I wanted my mama to have Alzheimer's. I wanted my daddy what oh, let's go back, I wanted my daddady to drop dead of a massive heart attack to catapult my mom into early on Alzheimer's to make me switch my life all the way around to become her caregiver for going on nine years, so that I have to stay up all night to be so sleepy that I call you back at 5:30pm because you call me at 11am , my mom and I were napping. Oh huh yep, that was the plan. There are times when Zetty and I are singing and dancing as I get her cleaned up and dressed and ready for the day. Her preference is always Motown songs. I can never go wrong with Glady's Knight and the pips we get to the door, all of a sudden there's an aroma that is not pleasant, which lets me know that her bowels have released she doesn't know it, I now know it. So we have to go back in and we don't have to start all over with the cleaning process, but we do have to freshen up and change our outfit. Now the frustration comes in, because wherever we were about to go is an appointment, typically a doctor's appointment and then the doctors want to give me crap about being 10 or 15 minutes late, and they want to say, Well, why didn't you leave early enough? Seriously, you look at her chart, she has two forms of dementia, I'm her caregiver, don't you think I planned early? I mean, would you want me to get up two weeks early when you want me to start nine days before the appointment? I did get up early, I pad at least 90 minutes now that's 90 minutes extra on top of traffic and this and that and the other, but if Zetty has what I'm a call a blowout and sometimes she's upset with the blowout if she can't articulate it. But then she's less cooperative with me in the cleaning process and the changing process and then if she's really out of sorts, on the drive to the doctor's appointment, she's more agitated, so then I have to change my driving style. I've been known to be a little, a little assertive and then she's like, No, no, JG nope, stop. So in order to try to calm her down, I'm now driving 18 miles an hour, damn near on the shoulder and I feel like after all of that, if we are total of 17 minutes late for a doctor's appointment, I feel like we are winning dude, we are winning dude Miss ma'am. Poof. Y'all know me and Zetty are super connected. She can tell when I'm frustrated. And then she responds, either she gets frustrated and antsy or she starts apologizing- JG What's wrong? Are you okay? And then I feel like crap. Here she is literally fighting her own body, she's fighting through her mind trying to be the best person she can. I honestly believe my mom is fighting through whatever she does every day to be here on earth with me, so that I'm not emotionally alone and now I got her apologizing to me. Really? Because I'm frustrated about what? What the hell? Are you frustrated about J Smiles? I mean, I mean, I know what I'm frustrated about technically, but why there comes to fight that I have with it. Because while it is a justifiable emotion is also useless as hell. I mean, you know, I'm saying it's like, I can have it, but I don't need it to take over me for too long. It's kind of like a bad boyfriend, the minute you recognize he is bad, you need to go get rid of him. So as soon as I realized, Oh, J Smiles, you are losing it a little bit. Right, you right now frustration is leading your decisions, it's taking over your thoughts, your actions, your energy, your face, and Zetty can feel it and she can tell. So booboo you need to snap up out of this. It ain't helping nobody. And let me tell you, whew, super frustration when someone I'm paying to care for my mother ignores my instruction , wooo, hat's tough. First of all, that goes against my basic state of being. If you ever hook me up or do me a solid, then you can do it your way. But if I'm paying you, I don't care if you are washing my car, shampooing my hair, cleaning my house, dry cleaning my clothes, doing my taxes, if I'm paying you and I make a specific request, and you say Okay, that's it, we ain't talking about this no more and it should happen the way we agreed in my request. Now, if I make a request that you either think is immoral or illegal or just goes against your standard of work, then say it up front, I'ma keep my money and you go on about your way. Whoo we, the number of caregivers that either decide they know better, you know, because a bunch of times the caregivers are twice my age, or they've been doing caregiving for 30 years, they just know better than I know. You might know caregiving more than I know but what don't nobody know better than me is Zetty. There is not a living soul on this hill planted earths that knows Zetty Yvette Smiley Smith, is superduper frustrating. When I lay it out because if I lay out the way things should go for my mom's meal or shower or what I want her to wear, I got a reason. I don't give rules for the sake dictatorship I ain't got time for that. Micromanagement is not the way I prefer when I give a rule tt has a very specific reason behind it and if you don't do it especially if I'm paying you now, okay, if you want to do it your way, then give me that check back. Mm hmm see how long that lasts. As a full time caregiver, the instability of my schedule has caused fits and starts and stops and spasms throughout my entire life. Every single category has been affected personally, professionally, spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically, I can't commit to anything with confidence, that's frustrating. It is super frustrating prior to becoming a caregiver, the amount of independence that I not only did I enjoy it, I reveled in it, I celebrated it I dreamed of it, I leaned into it it's what I stood for. If Italy stands for food was was the girl Elizabeth with the Eat Pray Love, if Italy stood for the eat and Bali stood for the love and India stood for the prey. J Smiles stood for the independence, the flexibility, variety, options, free style, my life was the cipher, did what I wanted to when I wanted to. And I made choices that continued to let me live a lifestyle on purpose into that destiny. It is frustrating as hell that that is no longer my life and it is even more rewarding to be my mother's full time advocate and caregiver. Thank goodness, the reason that I'm no longer fully independent happens to provide such a refreshing and welcoming fulfilling position of passion, protection, and advocacy who knew. Many days are hazy most days are clear the brightness, the intensity, the sunshine of love for my mom, the universe's support of my being carries me through. I don't know how long I will have my mother on Earth. I don't know how long I will be here. All I can do is lean into each moment to present the best JG J Smiles I can be in that moment. Sometimes I'm frustrated as hell, I do all I can to make those moments dispate quickly. The snuggle up- Number one, identify your personal signs of frustration. Know what they are, and be ready to tackle them. Don't let them pile up on you. Number two, have long game and a short game approach to coping with frustration. What's your coffee and Bailey's? That immediate thing that's going to take the edge off and then for your long game, is it meditation or exercise? What's that thing that's going to keep your body and your mind in better shape to handle the daily grind of being a caregiver and keep you off the edge of frustration more regularly. Number three, join us every Monday night for our live streaming show on getvokal.com 9pm eastern standard time in the United States, cannot wait to see, you chat with you, hear your questions ,and your comments about caregiving. Also sign up for our Parenting Up email list, both have details in the show notes. That's it for now. Thank you for listening. Please subscribe for continuous caregiving tips tricks, trends, and truth. Pretty Pretty please with sugar on top share and review it too. I'm a comedian, alzheimer's is heavy but we ain't got to be