By Charles Towne
Believe me when I say, caregiver burnout is a very real malady that can kill you if not approached rationally.
There are those poor ignorant and deluded souls that have the mistaken idea that “caregiver burnout “ is a barbecue where you put an apple in a caregiver’s mouth and roast said caregiver over an open fire!
Caregiver burnout is natural, and to be expected, and it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of.
The demands placed upon the caregiver are so persistent, so, “IN YOUR FACE!” that it is only to be expected to want to “escape into a good book” or, “another place,” or perhaps something that is equally distracting from the brutal realities of the caregiver’s life.
As I have placed myself under that sometimes brutally honest and revealing lens of the “magnifying glass” of caregiving I discover things about myself (Let’s call them “caregiver warts”) that I do not like. It is at times like this almost like I am seeing a stranger, another person, someone I do not recognize, or, if I do recognize them I sure as the dickens don’t like them.
Guilt is a killer, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, so how do we eliminate guilt? I don’t know if we can ever completely do so because that evil rascal we know as Satan is always there trying to rub caca into our faces and telling us it isn’t stinky stuff but ambrosia. The thing to remember is that if it stinks like s@#$ it usually is s@#$!
I do know that there are things that help.
One is, get help, sooner rather than later.
Find a caregiver’s support group nearby that you can attend regularly. Talk to your pastor or a good counselor, and by all means, ask family members to help!
(Hopefully family is willing to step forward and render loving assistance but it saddens me to say that some family members can be so heartlessly indifferent in this area.)
Family, if they care, can sit and read to your loved one, prepare a meal, visit, be there, whatever. This will allow you to escape for a few hours now and then.
And regarding family, if they are so inclined as to ignore an ill family member there isn’t much you can do other than to pray for them. They are the ones to be pitied, not resented. And please remember, never forget, you are doing a marvelous job as a caregiver just by being there.)
We all feel guilty now and then because we would like to do more, and then there are, if you are like me, those times when we feel resentment, anger, frustration, and we tend to overreact and that is an example of those ugly caregiver warts I spoke of earlier.
Humor is a suggested healer, yes, laughter is healing, healing, healing!!! Like the bible says, “A happy heart does one good like a medicine.” (That is my paraphrase.)
Another thing that I have found that helps is journaling. Take time to write down your thoughts, things you have heard, seen, done. WRITE! Being a writer has certainly helped me.
Remember, no two people ever see the same thing through the same eyes, therefore there will invariably be a unique flow, or new take, on what you write!
Above all, draw near to Papa God, He loves you! Yes, He loves you and He will always be there for you.
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.