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Are You a Type D Personality? Here’s
By Debbie Mandel
Most of us feel frustrated when we
think we have no control over what is happening to us.
Living in ambiguity or uncertainty, we turn to our
crystal balls and forecast gloom and doom in our lives.
We tend to create a fictional certainty to counteract
the ambiguity and usually this version of “our
certainty” ends in failure. Anticipating a negative
outcome, we bring it on ourselves, or at best waste
precious time dreading the outcome which luckily never
happens the way we imagine it would! This hopeless and
helpless attitude is not only stressful, but terribly
unhealthy for us and those in our care!
According to the American Medical Association, a new
personality type has been identified to be more prone to
heart disease and stroke than the Type A (which pales in
comparison); it is the Type D personality who is
distressed and distant. Caregivers, in particular, tend
to feel distressed taking care of everyone’s needs but
their own. Also, because caregivers feel overwhelmed
with the daily to-do list, they feel isolated by a wall
of grief and guilt. The antidote is to understand what
is slowly poisoning our innate zest for living; in other
words, what is holding us back from leading our lives.
Could we be the authors of this distress, creating the
irreconcilable distance from all those people we blame
for not helping us and not being sensitive enough?
The unknown invites fearful visions. Consider this: We
can confidently walk a plank on the ground. Now elevate
that same plank ten feet high and we are frightened that
we will lose our balance and fall. It is not our bodies
that fail us, but our minds which conjure up failure. We
are terribly afraid of living: What will people say if
we have fun – shouldn’t we be grieving and humble? How
will we measure up – are we good enough? What if we are
rejected when we ask for help or some free time for
ourselves? The good news: We can exchange our negative
crystal ball for a positive one.
Even when we think that we have absolutely lost all
control, such as in the aging and disease process, we
can exert our powerful control center, the mind. Observe
how some people look young, act young and are vital even
when chronologically they are advanced in age. Some
people get cancer and come to their senses. In both
cases, people have made up their minds to live their
lives with enthusiasm, experiencing one focused action
after another. Obviously, no one is going to live
forever, but we can really be alive because our life
depends on it. Let’s turn adversity into advantage.
After all, unlike most people, we know the facts; the
next step is how we choose to perceive them. Caregiving
need not be a case of identity theft. Rather, this might
be the time in your life to reinvent.
When my mother was sick with Alzheimer’s, I realized
that Alzheimer’s teaches us a powerful lesson — to let
go. Alzheimer’s forces the patient to let go of the past
and live in the now, moment to moment. My mother, who
didn’t know what planet she was on, knew me, her
daughter. When everything melted away in her memory, our
visceral love was there – so thick you could touch it.
How blessed I was to have experienced that kind of love
and forever keep it in my heart! How blessed I was to
see the world with Alzheimer’s eyes and live in the
moment and appreciate the little things with my five
senses! Because I was experiencing a painful time in my
life, I decided as a caregiver to fill my life with
creativity to counteract the destruction. I wrote two
books on stress-management and put them in my mother’s
hands! I found my passion and my true identity.