Let’s Talk About It
All too often when caring for a family member or members. The caregiver will put their personal needs aside; they tend to skip doctor appointments in favor of taking the person they are caring for to their doctor appointment. The caregiver will opt out of getting their hair or nails done, spending time with friends over a meal, taking a leisurely bath, having intimate time with his or her spouse, or something as simple as reading a book; because they feel guilty and worry about outside judgement from other family members.
This is wrong and will ultimately result in the caregiver feeling like a overworked overwhelmed martyr. Feelings of resentment will happen followed by feelings of guilt. This is a rough cycle to break once it starts. Often, it happens at a slow pace; the caregiver doesn’t realize what is happening or does know what is happening, but chooses to brush it off until it is almost too late. Once the caregiver is near mental and physical burnout its tough trying to find the strength to continue.
This is why all caregivers must take time for themselves. The saying is true; “you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help those next to you.”
When I first began caring for my mother and brother; I was told repeatedly; “take time for yourself; if you don’t; you will burnout.” I didn’t believe the warnings and I refused to listen to my own body. I was determined to give my mother and brother the best care to make sure they stayed together that there was no way I could ever burnout; after all; my undying love for them was enough to keep me going forever—talk about lying to myself in grand proportions! Love had nothing to do with it! It wasn’t until I woke up in the emergency room with heart failure that I realized it was true. I didn’t take care of myself. I found myself not being able to take care of them. What did I do?
More next time…