depression is weird.
especially for someone like me,
the always happy,
bullshit person that I am.
to be depressed is mind altering.
it takes up space.
it controls a part that isn’t easily handed over.
a constant battle between who you are,
and who you perceive yourself to be.
how do you come out of it?
should you be honest?
explain to your closest and dearest,
that you can’t go on?
or do you just go on?
and then just keep going on,
and on and on….
or do you wait out the wave?
because you know that is what it is?
just a wave.
and there will be sunshine soon.
just wait out the wave you tell yourself.
and you hope you can.
depression is weird.
Caregivers have a commitment in sustaining their own care while caring for a loved one. Caregiving can be challenging, and frequently requires extraordinary commitment, perseverance, and dedication, which will cause caregivers to ignore their own essential needs. Over time, as caregivers become engrossed in the care of their loved one, they cease to care for their own physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
A fundamental approach caregivers can ensure caring of their own needs is through establishing and maintaining loving boundaries. Loving boundaries are firm, yet flexible boundaries. Loving boundaries compel caregivers and loved ones to have candid, honest, and open communication.
Caregivers who overlook their own physical, mental, and spiritual needs will ultimately burnout. Burnout can manifest as anger, frustration, and/or depression. Caregiver burnout can develop when boundaries have been not been clearly defined; as well as when open, honest, and direct communication with the loved one has not occurred.
Loving boundaries define emotional, behavioral, and physical sensitivities. Loving boundaries define the considerations for the Caregiver loved one relationship arrangement. Loving boundaries present acceptable emotional, behavioral, and physical expectations in their own and their loved one’s behavior. Unclear, inconsistent, or nonexistent boundaries become problematic for the Caregiver and loved one creating problems, as well as powerful negative emotional responses for both parties.
The possibility remains to change the situation through thoughtful reflection of the following:
Are you satisfied with the boundaries and routines you have established? For yourself? For your Loved One?
Determine your loved one’s authentic needs.
- Are you meeting their needs?
- Are you meeting your own needs?
How are you feeling
- Are you often angry or frustrated?
- Do you feel burned out?
If so, the CareGiving routine must change. CareGivers cannot continue when strong negative emotions are present. Examine the circumstances provoking strong emotions. These are areas in need of change, or stronger more consistent boundaries.
Determine a plan of action for establishing, re-establishing, or maintaining boundaries.
Have a candid, open conversation with your Loved One regarding the challenges, and how to resolve.
Important aspects for communication
- Define the problem or challenge
- Describe how you are feeling
- Listen to your Loved One
- Outline what you both need to resolve the situation
- Your relationship is a partnership, both perspective are imperative
- Give yourself permission to change the routine
- Remember to care for yourself with regular personal time for you.
Ask yourself daily
How am I doing today?
What do I need to improve my well being?
Seek help if you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or cannot determine how to resolve the situation.
Over the past five years of caring full-time for my husband, I have discovered the necessity and obligation of self-compassion. It is only in the last two years, self-compassion has become my daily passion and practice. I take time to myself; to care, love, and have great patience for myself. The beginning was of my journey to self-compassion was challenging, slow to progress, and now is vibrantly messy!
My first step was learning to take the same care, patience, and love I was giving to my husband, and apply it to myself, just as generously. I had to learn -I am not my thoughts, insecurities, or feelings of worthlessness. In fact, I was the only one hearing these thoughts, and more unfortunate- believing them.
Guilt, for us CareGivers, stems from feelings of not doing enough, being enough, trying to please everyone (and failing miserably). Our guilt is further fueled by not behaving in the “right” way, whether or not your perceptions are accurate. CareGivers often burden themselves with a long list of self-imposed “oughts,” “shoulds,” and “musts.” For example: “I must avoid putting Mom in a nursing home.” “I ought to visit every day.” “I shouldn’t lose my temper with my Loved One who has dementia.” Finally, self-imposed guilt, for many CareGivers happens by beating ourselves up over faults that are imagined, unavoidable — or simply being human.
So, how do we learn to cope? We become our own best advocate, friend, and self-CareGiver. Caregivers need to have self-empathy and self-compassion. I know, easier said than done. As a society we typically frown upon putting oneself first; however, how can you fill someone else’s cup when your own vessel is empty?
When guilt nags, ask yourself: What’s triggering the guilt? Could it be an unrealistic belief about your abilities? CareGivers intentions are good, but our time, resources, and skills are limited. We need to accept our limitations, the situation, and explore our feelings in these instances. We need to seek help in the form of family members, friends, neighbors, support groups, and/ or agencies.
We take care of ourselves, by establishing routines- simple, easy, and planned routines for us. A simple bedtime routine can mean better sleep, and a morning routine can set a positive tone to the entire day. Journaling is a instant release of pent of emotions, exercise or a quick walk can reinvigorate, and a daily devotion to a spiritual practice can ease stress. Simply stated, “Take care of you!”
My favorite author, Brene Brown, has this to say on the subject of self-compassion:
Self-compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind.
Self-kindness: Being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.
Common humanity: Common humanity recognizes that suffering and feelings of personal inadequacy are part of the shared human experience—something we all go through rather than something that happens to “me” alone.
Mindfulness: Taking a balanced approach to negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time. Mindfulness requires that we not “overidentify” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negativity.” ― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
Always remember each day, hour, moment you can renew — try again!