Ch.22. Sudden Mood Changes.
When Pat was first diagnosed with Lewy Body I asked several people this question: What is the hallmark of Lewy Body? What makes it stand out from Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, etc.? The answer was almost invariably the same: unpredictable and rapid mood changes. What they could have added is …and you, Mr. Care “ Partner, better find a good way to deal with them.
Today was typical. Pat woke up sad because she had “lost my baby” when she awakened. Then she morphed into what I call “snapping turtle” mode. We had a breakfast meeting with another couple, and it was my unenviable responsibility to “remind” her to get going. “Honey, I just want to tell you that it’s 8:45 and we need to…” was interrupted by a “YES, I KNOW!” As in “I KNOW AND LEAVE ME ALONE!” She stayed grumpy another hour, until breakfast.
During the rest of the day, though, Pat was quiet and somber during breakfast; happy and positive when we hugged; humorous and playful as we took a drive through the country; curious and interested as we viewed a documentary, suddenly grumpy again because she was hungry, and then happy during the evening.
Everybody has occasional mood changes, of course. But Pat’s mood often changes abruptly, sometimes catching me off guard. I may think we’re fine only for her to snap at me for some reason I cannot decipher. It’s equally likely I’ll go into defensive mode to deal with her anger only to find her smiling and unconcerned. Sometimes I feel like I’m on the caboose of Pat’s emotional train, always running a little behind the action.
These sudden, relatively unpredictable mood changes can be hard on me. When I get in a bad mood I tend to stay in that bad mood for a long time. Then I slowly ease my way back to neutrality and then gradually onward toward happiness. If Pat shifts unexpectedly into negative territory, I may go with her only to find myself there all alone as she rapidly bounces back.
I have learned over the last year to be patient with this process. The phrase “This too shall pass” helps with the sudden negative moods; the phrase “Enjoy this while it lasts” reminds me to fully appreciate the good moods. It is also beneficial to remind myself that Pat has the right to her emotions, whatever they may be and whenever they appear. Meanwhile, I have the responsibility to handle my own emotions. Since I know I tend to stay in bad moods far longer than Pat I must not over-react to her mood changes.
Pat’s Comments on Sudden Mood Changes. I have sudden mood changes, but I may hide them. I think I’ve always had times when I felt more sensitive and when I felt easily upset by things Ron says. On the whole I do my best to address my mood changes before I address them out loud to Ron. That does not mean I always manage to do this. It is important to me to remember how much I love Ron and how much he means to me. Often that feeling is more important than an immediate mood change. I do have quick mood changes but in general they don’t last a very long time.