Bringing 'Normal' Back For Family Caregivers of the Chronically Ill
While attending to other's needs, have you ever felt like there is just too much to deal with, struggling to cope with the demands, feeling the emotional turmoil and just not knowing how much longer you can do what you are doing? Have you felt like you are going crazy? Do you feel like that now?
If you have answered "Yes' to any or all of the above questions....
You are not alone. There are others who feel the same way - to the point that the feeling of 'going crazy' is 'normal' however, caregivers go into their doctors feeling 'not normal' and more often than not walk out with an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant prescription or both.
The situation is a major culprit....
The feeling of 'going crazy' can be unbearable, hindering your ability to carry out daily functions. It is of no surprise you welcome the prescription the doctors offer with open hands to obtain relief, that quick fix at a time when it is so important to have your wits about you in providing care. Do not be fooled though into thinking that there is something totally wrong with YOU, that YOU are abnormal.
Let us also give credit where credit is due and for family members who are caring for family members, the situation is a major culprit. The circumstances that family caregivers face contribute to their daily stress whether they are living with those requiring care or not. You live in your own head 24/7 and may not acknowledge and assess that while worrying and attending to care demands, you are also carrying around a reaction to the losses stemming from having a chronically ill sick family member. You may be witnessing minor or major changes due to the illness that make him/her no longer the person he/she was - whether it be a family member who has become aggressive or a wanderer due to Alzheimer's or a family member who is no longer mobile or able to dress him/herself due to MS.
Emotional turmoil can be confusing and play a lot of tricks on the caregivers leading to major guilt, sadness and feelings of inadequacy, being 'abnormal'. Partaking in enjoyment becomes unthinkable. Also, we live in a culture that has a limited tolerance for sadness and grief - again making sense for the quick prescription fix to accommodate our culture. Consider this though - family caregivers of the chronically ill who have been providing care for years with no end in sight of the situation have a really good excuse for feeling the way they do - energy depleted, low in mood, socially withdrawn, frustrated, angry, etc. The reason being - the situation, the circumstances.
For the most part, it is 'normal' people who are required to acknowledge, assess and assist themselves in dealing with 'abnormal' circumstances. How can a daughter possibly stay "normal" when she hears her widowed father who was a university professor ask her what time it is 30 times in one hour? How can a spouse stay "normal" when his wife asks him 10 times in one hour where her husband is? How does a parent stay 'normal' witnessing her adult schizophrenic son in a delusional episode? How does a spouse stay 'normal' caring for her life partner who is slowly declining due to a traumatic brain injury that changed all future plans?
If this article resonates with you and you are having difficulty coping, acknowledge and assess. Obtain assistance as required keeping in mind the situation you are dealing with.