The life of a family caregiver is filled with emotions and ‘to-do’s’ that often lead to exasperation. When someone asks you how you are, how many of you respond with: ‘Good, I’m good.” in a desperate attempt to dispel any thoughts that something is wrong or that they may have felt that you can’t do the job. Frequently family caregivers are so concerned that someone will find fault or judge the way they are caring for loved ones that their clarity gets a bit muddled. Often being so overwhelmed that they can’t even speak about it anymore.
Or perhaps your loved one appears to have given up hope, won’t do the things the doctor has suggested to help improve themselves, and the more you try to talk with them about it the more difficult it becomes. "Why aren’t these things working?!? Why aren't they listening?? I’m going to explooooooodddde!!!!!!!!". And there are times you feel yourself shaking so severely that you can’t breathe yet you feel obligated to keep plodding through.
Any of this sound familiar? Are you in circumstances that make you feel like you are on a spinner? Can’t get off? No eject button?
Let me share with you a little hint. That is NOT the time to keep trudging through. It’s not. That’s the time you’ve got to walk away. Find someone to care for your loved one, reschedule appointments to open up some free time, even for half an hour. DO IT.
I had the opportunity to be at one of our walks recently where caregivers spoke about how important it has been to be able to connect with other family caregivers when this kind of overwhelm happens and also about the importance of taking time to be able to renew their own energy through the leisurely walks. Some have emailed saying that even though they can't make the walks, they've been adding in a little extra time when they make the grocery store run to take time at a local park. Even a short time can make a difference.
I know it may not always be easy, but regardless of how you can do it finding time for yourself is not optional, it’s mandatory in your own life. If you see yourself worn out and stretched thin, its time to take a step back, take a deep breath and reach out for help.