Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Hate Caregiving


I’m going to go ahead and fire this up: I don’t like caregiving. I hate the demands it makes on my life, the worries that keep me awake at night, the anxiety created by wondering if my mother is being cared for and is safe and the toll it takes on what was already a pretty busy and stressful life. 

What I really hate is seeing my mother like this.

And anyone who would ask, “But, don’t you love you mother? Don’t you want to show that you love her by providing some of her care?” is an idiot.

In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that any person who would say, “Yeah, I’m glad my loved one has Alzheimer’s/Cancer/Parkinson’s (you name it) and I love the fact that my life has been turned upside down and I’m tired all the time and having to use up my work time off on emergency room visits and sitting with them,” would have to be seriously demented.

If you’re with me say, “Amen,” and don’t feel guilty about it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wishing you didn’t have to go through the caregiving experience. 

Nothing.

So, step away from the guilt train.

People tell me, “You just have to step up and do it.” And yes, they are right. I agree and I’m doing that. But, I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to wish my life was like this.

There’s a wonderful story that comes out of caregiving lore. A woman was caring for her husband who had Parkinson’s. She had finally gotten him to bed after an incredibly trying day. She’s standing in the kitchen washing dishes…and she snapped. She took the coffee cup she was washing and threw it on the floor, shattering it into pieces. The feeling of relief she experienced from the act surprised and pleased her so she threw another cup on the floor…and then a dish…and then a bowl.

After a quick clean-up she realized she had found a unique stress relieving strategy.
The next day she went into their garage and hung a blanket against a wall and stacked three cinder blocks in front of it. She started bringing out boxes of old dishes and whenever she felt stressed she’d go out to the garage and zing china at the cinder blocks.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to be overwhelmed/crushed/obliterated by the caregiving experience. There is no guilt in the thought and feeling.

As long as you are doing what you need to do to keep you loved one safe and cared for you’re stepping up.

It’s just that in order to keep from going crazy you sometimes need to step away, mentally, emotionally and literally.

***If you believe another caregiver needs to see this please forward it to them.

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