“Being a caretaker is and never will be an easy job; in fact it is that hardest job in the world and many a times a thankless job. You have to be the pillar of strength even when you feel like you are crumbling from inside.” ~ Jenna Morasca
There are so many things that are difficult in life.
Perhaps, the most difficult one that doesn’t get talked about much is about being a caretaker.
We’re all taking care of someone or other in some capacity. The different roles we play in life like that of a parent, child, sibling, friend, partner, employee, and so on all come with their own demands.
Some part of caretaking is embedded in our lives. However, the biggest struggle is playing this role full time to someone who absolutely can’t take care of themselves.
Being a full-time caretaker is by no means an easy feat. Whether your role demands you do it or you do it by choice, this one can be particularly daunting.
What makes it even more difficult is when you have to take care of someone you love. The dynamic of the relationship becomes so complicated in so many ways.
No matter how strong or resilient you are, seeing your loved ones in anguish and pain takes a different kind of toll on you, and if you add your own struggles to the mix, it’s just…painful and exhausting.
Being there for someone else does feel extremely rewarding, but it also extracts a huge cost that a lot of people aren’t even aware of.
We just get sucked into this whirlpool of actions and emotions that leave us drained.
To any outsider, it may seem like a really noble job. But it’s also the one that chips away at you—sometimes slowly, and sometimes all at once.
Being a caregiver means:
>> Giving priority to the one who needs all the care and attention.
>> Giving up your own needs, dreams, life goals, and visions.
>> Not being able to take out time for yourself.
>> Seeing them in pain, yet being their pillar of support, even when you feel you’re on the verge of crumbling and falling.
>> Taking on their physical, mental, and emotional distress, which can be so overwhelming.
>> Keeping your struggles and emotions within you because the one person with whom you want to share things is the one you can’t say anything to.
>> Grappling with different “what if” scenarios in your mind that leave you feeling anxious, overwhelmed, sad, and numb. Yet, you have to find your own ways to cope.
>> Watching the days go by and also hoping for things to be different one day.
>> Hanging on to the tiniest piece of hope that you can find and still trying to give them a garden full of sunshine.
Being a caregiver is a lot.
“Even a lighthouse needs TLC, and a caretaker.” ~ Cheri Bauer
And what people don’t see is that after a point in time, your entire world become about this one person only.
Your day starts and ends with them. No matter how angry, frustrated, or tired you are with them or with your circumstances, you still circle back to them.
After a point, that’s all you know.
And this can be daunting as hell. There are times when you’re gripped by confusion and dread because you just don’t know what to do and you certainly don’t want to mess up.
You’re even afraid of saying something. What if it’s not the right thing?
Then, you also have to deal with your own guilt of leaving them alone, doing something for yourself, or taking a decision that didn’t turn out well.
“Caregivers require regular breaks, preferably without being criticized by others.” ~ Peter Rosenberger
There is nothing easy about it.
Being a caregiver means putting your life on hold in so many ways, and that’s not just daunting—it kills you in ways you don’t even realise.
Sometimes, you become a caregiver by choice, and at times, that’s the only choice you can make.
Whichever circumstance you find yourself in, you need to remember to take care of yourself as well.
You need someone to take care of you too.
Someone you can fall back on.
We all do.
If you’re a caregiver struggling with exhaustion and burnout, then here are a few things you can do to help yourself:
1. Try and take out some time for yourself. It can be hard and guilt-inducing. However, it’s important. If you don’t rest it out and unwind, it will impact you mental and physical health.
2. Maintain your social circle. Go out, meet people, or call them over once in a while. It’s important for you to engage with the world to feel connected and supported.
3. Take care of your physical health. Make sure you exercise, eat, and sleep well as much as you can. In order to take care of someone properly, you need to be healthy too.
4. Talk to someone and share your thoughts, emotions, and struggles. You need your space and support too.
5. Take stock of your life. You have other areas of your life that need your presence. Make sure to be there for yourself.
6. Remember, you are important too.
“It is so important as a caregiver not to become so enmeshed in the role that you lose yourself. It’s neither good for you, nor for your loved one.”~ Dana Reeve