When I arrived home to relieve the sitter on Friday, Mary heard me open the door and told Kate I was home. I walked into the family room. Kate had been resting on the sofa and gotten into a sitting position when she saw me. She had a big smile on her face but immediately burst into tears. She couldn’t stop and continued until after Mary had left. I sat down with her and we hugged. She said, “I’m so glad to see you. I was so worried.” This was the way she had reacted when I returned two weeks ago. There was one big difference. She didn’t recover as quickly. Over the next thirty minutes, she continued to express how happy she was to see me. It wasn’t until we went to dinner that she had fully calmed down.
Last night Kate had a very traumatic experience involving a delusion that I had had a fight with her mother who died in 2005. The way she described it this was something that she had just overheard. She had been in bed for about an hour, so I suspected that she had had a dream. After reflecting on it, she probably had never gone to sleep. On several previous occasions, I have noticed that she has had similar experiences, but this one was definitely the most intense. She was angry with me. As I tried to calm her, she shifted her story. Then it sounded like the fighting was between her mother and father. A few minutes later, she settled into its being between our neighbors.
Several times she said she wasn’t going to talk about it anymore. Then she would continue. She kept talking about the “foul” language they were using and how sorry she felt for the children. She was so upset that she said she wanted to move out of the neighborhood. Trying to calm her, I played along as though I believed what she said and suggested that we might talk about moving in the morning. I knew that it would all be forgotten then. I also diverted her attention by talking about how fortunate we have been to have a marriage that has been free of the kind of fighting that she had observed. That seemed to work. She settled down, and we called it a night. The entire episode lasted about an hour and a half.
On the way to lunch today, I played some music. She cried during “Try to Remember.” This is a song she likes, but I don’t recall its leading to tears before. Then at lunch our server approached the table to give Kate a hug. As she did, she said, this is a day when I really need a hug. Then she proceeded to tell us that her neighbor’s dog had killed her cat this morning. That was all Kate needed to hear. She was in tears, and the server felt bad about having said anything.
It’s not just the tearful emotions that are elicited so easily. This morning as well as other times recently, Kate has responded to me with anger when I tried to help her with something that she wanted to do on her own. She is very much on edge now.