I think back to the days of being a family caregiver and realize that part of ‘me’ disappeared. My passion for photography weaned, my sense of humor dulled, and the desire to interact with other people just wasn’t like it used to be. I take full responsibility for the fact that I wasn’t filling up my bucket first and the results weren’t good for anyone. Regardless of who you are caring for, something shifts when your role changes and it can be an awkward transition.
Family caregiving goes back to the beginning of time as we know it, family caring for family. However, there has been a shift in recent years as to how you identify yourself; as a ‘caregiver’ instead of simply being a ‘good wife’ helping out your husband or a ‘good child’ helping out your Mom. How you identify yourself can make a big difference. I talk to a lot of people who don’t self-identify themselves as a family caregiver, and I can pick right up on it. I was one of those people, and I remember the day I realized that my role had shifted from daughter and sister to family caregiver.
I can almost see my head tilt saying….”Wait, I’m a what?????” Recognizing yourself as a family caregiver can open up a flood of doors. It allows you to begin to understand that being in that role means that you need to be taking better care of yourself. The mortality rate of family caregivers is high. The reason? Stress, worry and neglecting to take care of yourself so that you can better care for your loved one.
That being said, if you’re reading this chances are you’ve self-identified yourself but are you taking care of yourself? REALLY? You’ve probably been on an airplane and heard the stewardess tell you that you put the oxygen mask on yourself before you take care of your child. Same thing y’all. Same thing. I know first-hand the stress that can mount from making decisions, trying to second guess your loved one, the doctor's visits, the medications, the legal documentation. Not to mention keeping up with your own life.
One of the benefits that we are soon going to be bringing to our Breathing Spaces community is the ability to get more information through webinars/seminars and connect with other family caregivers on walks in your area. Being able to gain information quickly can be a lifesaver and connecting with others gives you the acknowledgement that you are not doing this ‘wrong’ that you are not an awful person for getting angry at times and that you will, with support, get through this. As we continue to add Affiliate Organizations those opportunities will become available in your area.
Available now is our CLOSED Facebook group that allows you the ability to interact in a ‘safe’ zone and hear stories from others on the same journey that you are. You can request to join through the Breathing Spaces website or our Facebook page.
One step at a time, it is my hope that you will get the help and support that you need. My heart goes out to every one of you and my mission is to be sure that no one has to do this without support. Please take care, of you.