When on the Edge, Take That 'Must' Break
By Jean Donahue
am just about overwhelmed . . .
having very unkind thoughts . . .
is demanding and unappreciative . . .
life is so joyless with this burden . . .
think I will give her/him an ultimatum -- shape up or I am out of here . .
negative atmosphere in our home hangs over me like a cloud, so I never
relax . . .
best solution seems to be for him/her to die soon . . .
now understand the instinct for freedom that humans have, and that's what
I want -- freedom . . .
deserve better . . .
am tired of all this almost beyond endurance.
any of those statements sound familiar, it means you are a member of a
wonderful group of people -- you are a family caregiver.
every family caregiver has negative feelings like the ones I listed above.
Those feelings come and go, but every family caregiver experiences some of
them. You are not alone. I had some of those same feelings and thoughts
when I was taking care of my parents.
who has never been a family caregiver may try to understand what itís
like to take care of a loved one, but they don't understand. They have
never traveled that road, so how can they understand?
thoughts and feelings you are having are perfectly normal, so please don't
get upset because you have them. What you need to do is find ways to make
your life better and more enjoyable. But first letís talk about
something that affects you. Itís called "caregiver guilt". You
don't want to be in the situation you are in. It seems like it will never
end. You want things to be the way they were, but they won't be, can't be.
You can't fix the situation. You can't make it "better." You
don't like any of it, but you are stuck with it. You want to live your own
life without having to take care of anyone. You have had it. Then, you
turn around and feel guilty for feeling that way.
try to get over the guilty feelings because they will affect your health.
These are normal feelings. Try not to feel guilty about them. I know you
feel like you are betraying your husband/wife/parent/friend by not wanting
to be in this situation, but you are not betraying them. Your loved one
doesn't want to be there either, and I am sure he/she has many bad
you canít improve your situation, what can you do to improve your life?
Sound like an impossible question? Well, it isnít. Start on the journey
to change your life right now.
are three things I believe are most important.
first one is to change your own attitude. Right now you are thinking about
your current situation and how horrible it is. Why donít you start
thinking about the good times in the past you had with your loved one?
Think of the good things your loved one did. Talk about those times and
events with your loved one. Look at family photos and/or movies with your
loved one and talk about them. Laugh at the funny things together.
Remember the good times together. Remember your loved one as he/she used
to be. Try to avoid the extremely bad times. It wonít help either of you
to think of those. Talk and think about these things on a daily basis.
second is for you to take a break from the caregiving, whether it is five
minutes or two hours. Do something you enjoy. Do you have any help? I was
able to get the government to pay for help with Mom and Dad. It wasn't a
lot of hours at one time, but I was able to get away for an hour or two
and do something I enjoyed.
if you canít get away very often, find something you enjoy. It will help
take your mind off the caregiving. Do you like to read a good book? What
about sewing? Whittle? Sing? Play a musical instrument? I hired someone to
come in for eight hours a few times while I drove to the covered bridges
in Madison County to take pictures. You might want to go to watch a movie
and eat buttered popcorn, or go shopping, or go for a walk. While I was
home, I learned how to do many things on the computer. Do anything you
enjoy that will help you not think about caregiving.
you need to find a way to release your frustration. Write a journal. Walk
around the house, or outside if the weather is nice. Scrub the floor. Bake
a cake. Wash your hair. Do whatever helps get rid of the frustration as
long as it doesn't hurt anyone, anything for yourself.