How To Give Yourself Equal Time As A Caregiver |
Self Care For The Caretaker
My daughter was just beginning to realize who she was in life when RSD/CRPS came into our world. As an athletic junior, she was ready to take on the world through her studies, basketball, German dancing and so much more. That was about five years ago. We went from driving around to practice and school to driving around to doctor after doctor. Her beautiful smile turned into horrifying screams and endless tears. We went from preparing for her future in college to trying to figure out how to scrap together whatever we could for her treatments and medical bills. As I call it.. I went from drinking wine to doing time…
So how does someone take care of themselves while taking care of a chronic pain patient? There is no answer anyone can really give you. The biggest obstacle we face is guilt. We feel guilty if we enjoy anything when our loved ones can’t because of how much pain they are in. For me, I felt guilty if I went for a walk, out to a movie, got a pedicure after all my daughter couldn’t even take a shower because of the water hitting her foot caused her so much pain that she would go into shock and end up in the emergency room. Every time I tried on a pair of heels or new shoes I cried because my daughter was walking around in slippers because shoes caused her too much pain.
So what do you do? You take one day at a time, that is what you do. If you feel guilty taking a walk that day then don’t and try again the next day. Eventually, you will walk again, buy a pair of shoes and maybe even go for that pedicure. But the point is if you want to take care of yourself, then don’t give up on yourself.
Another demon a caregiver has to face is depression. You have depression facing you from both ends. Of course, facing chronic debilitating pain everyday depression sets in but you yourself as the caregiver will most likely be battling depression also. However, we focus all of our attention towards our loved ones in getting them well and stronger so they can fight. We often find ourselves crying ourselves to sleep at night, alone, because we have to be strong for our loved ones. We end up keeping everything to ourselves and keeping it inside. When people ask how our day is? Or how Kenzie is doing? Our general response is fine.
So what do you do? What do you do when you find yourself crying at night by yourself when you’re so tired, but you can’t sleep because your mind is racing with worry and fear? You take one day at a time. One day might be better than the next, and one day might be worse than before. However, the point is you need to give yourself the time you need to accept what has happened and that doesn’t happen overnight. So give yourself time and take it one day at a time.
Being a caregiver you will quickly realize that the time you have for yourself quickly disappeared. It is very important that you take care of yourself so you can take of your loved one. However, there is no schedule or plan that someone can set forth for you, because you have to deal with the emotional side of what has happened to your family dynamics first. You are the only one that can deal with your emotions of what is happening to your loved one and that takes time. The best advice I can give any caregiver is to take it one day at a time, in order to take care of your loved one and to take care of yourself. And you are the only person that knows how you can take care of you. – Jennifer Blum
How do you give yourself equal time as a caregiver? What have you found helpful? Please leave us a comment in the section below. Thanks!