Who cares for the caregivers?
I know a woman who has a child with an on-going health issue. Her child is small so it's particularly scary and troubling whenever he has to go to the hospital. I have a friend who has an older child with a chronic condition which necessitates many doctor's visits, medications and scary episodes. Both women are under stress dealing with the uncertainties and anxieties of having children in need. And both women have their own health issues that get repeatedly pushed to the back of the line. This is a dangerous habit for everyone involved.
Being the primary caregiver can be very draining, physically and emotionally. You have to treat this kind of care-giving as a marathon. And if you are going to do it with any kind of sustainability in mind, you have to train for it, prepare for it and get support. But many people don't do this at all. They keep putting off taking care of themselves. They use short term gratification like, sweet and salty food, alcohol, shopping and skipping meals as a bandaid over a deeper need. They are constantly putting out small fires here and there, but never addressing what really needs attention.
Namely, they do. They need time and space and care and respect. They convince themselves that they can't have that. But this is only a story. And is it even true? How can the caregivers give themselves the self-care they need? How can we encourage them to stand up and ask for it? How can we offer it in a way they can hear? Because when you give and give all your have, eventually the pain of having nothing left for yourself becomes unbearable. You can get the message in a small way or a big way. But either way, denying yourself care is not sustainable. It is much harder for an unwell person to care for another unwell person. It's a dark spiral of illness. And when this happens, the whole family suffers so much more. Care needs support. Are you getting support?
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