It can be hard to have empathy for other people when you feel so drained, but it really breaks my heart to see caregivers tearing each other down.

On an article about raising funds for medical care: “I also agree having to beg for money is pathetic.”

On finding the bright side to a traumatic loss: “There is no bright side when you are in end of life caregiving.”

On an article by a caregiver with support from family and friends: “you are not a caregiver. I can tell by this bull()$article. It takes more than a fancy degree to know about being a caregiver. Your article is not only offensive. It is downright demoralizing, demeaning, disheartening and unrealistic. You have no idea do you?”

Why would you come to a support group to be mean to other people? I’m sorry if someone else’s personal experience doesn’t apply to your life. Just close the tab, click to the next article, move on. Why are people with such limited free time using that time to try to hurt someone else?

If you want to read the science behind why people are mean, Psychology Today has some possible explanations. Regardless, it doesn’t help caregivers come together as a community. It doesn’t help us help each other. It doesn’t help us get the support we need from the medical community, our friends and family, nonprofits, or the government. All it does it hurt people.

David summed it up:

No two people are going to have identical experience or challenges. I know people in my home area who are struggling with bigger issues than I face. I also know people who assure me their load is lighter than mine.

Caregivers have dramatically different experiences, but we still have a lot in common, which is why we get lumped together. So, how can we support each other?

We’re here to feel less alone. Let people know you can relate to what they’re saying without shouting over them.

If someone asks for advice, read their whole story. Offer advice for them, not you. Share your experience while respecting that we each live different lives.

We’re dealing with different things and coming from different places, but we have a lot in common. Respect that.

Not everyone is a full time caregiver. This is not a contest to see whose life is hardest, who’s the last appreciated, who’s the most bitter. If it is, I’ll gladly let you win.

It is not more noble to be a martyr. Perhaps quitting your job was the right choice for you. Perhaps residential care was the right choice for someone else. Perhaps someone can afford full time aids. Perhaps tough love was in order. Perhaps unconditional support was the best choice. Each situation is unique. We’re here to support and share, not to judge.

Sometimes you need to let it out. Do it in the forums or in the Facebook groups. Don’t attack another community member. And then move on. Negativity will poison this community. The point of venting is to let it out, not marinate in it.

Tiny Buddha has tips on how to be kind to people when you don’t feel like it and HuffPost suggests how being kind to others is good for you.

The world is a tough place. When you’re taking care of someone that’s sick or disabled there’s hardly any support. We’re all hurting. We’re all in impossible situations. We’re all tired. But we’re here because we know that finding people on here will make our lives easier. Let’s get started.

About Allison Powell

I live off of food from Trader Joe's. I spend my life in a cubicle, a la Office Space. I'm kind of obsessed with the internet.

Confession: I take care of people but don't identify as a caregiver.

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