Elephants, dementors, oh my

The quote below is from the blog, mamamusings. Despite the topic of alcoholism, the analogy of the disease being a dementor is accurate.

Bipolar disorder has the ability to suck everything out of the patient and the caretaker, if you aren't careful. There are days, when I don't know how to be careful. Protecting myself in many ways is the last thing that I want to do, because it involves distancing myself from K. But I have done it and will continue to do it, when necessary. Though, I have learned that distancing myself isn't permanent. I can move closer again, once the danger has passed and K is back to being herself.
stop dancing around the elephant
I went to an Al-Anon meeting tonight where one of the participants said something that really stuck with me. When you live with an alcoholic, he said, the disease is like the proverbial elephant in the middle of the room. At first, you dance around the elephant, pretending it's not there. When you finally acknowledge the elephant's presence, however, it doesn't disappear. It's still sitting there, as big as ever. And you're still dancing around it, still trying to avoid getting trampled.

Letting go of denial and acknowledging that the elephant is there is only the first step. After that comes detachment of figuring out how to stop caring so much about the elephant. For those of us who live with the elephant, many of our problems come from the unending and inevitably unsuccessful attempts to make it go away. What Al-Anon is teaching me to do is to take the focus off the elephant, and put it on myself and my own needs. When I stop focusing on the elephant, it gets smaller. It will never go away and that's important to accept, as well. But the more I focus on it, the more dominating and damaging it becomes.

As I thought about that on the way home, I was reminded of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which I took the boys to see earlier today. I started thinking about the elephant as a boggart but that's not really it. Making it ridiculous isn't the solution.

In many ways, the elephant is more like a dementor, ready to suck the life out of you if you can't draw on your own inner strength and summon a shield and a patronus. For me, right now, Al-Anon is teaching me how to summon my patronus, and protect myself from the elephant in the living room. Eventually, I'm hoping that it will shrink into a corner, no longer the center of all of our attention

The weekend wasn't necessarily rough, but today wasn't so great making it more difficult to shift my attention from the disease to other things.


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