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Are You a Type D Personality? Here’s the Antidote

By Debbie Mandel

(Page 1 of 2)

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.


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