Caregivers Fatigue: Giving too much or not enough

Many times when people think of caregivers they think of an older lady taking care of her elderly mother who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, this is not always the case because caregivers and companions come in many different shapes and forms. It can be a husband caring for an injured wife, a father caring for a child with Downs Syndrome, or a service member caring for a spouse with a mental health illness. Being in the military can be very stressful alone, but when caring for a loved one it can be hard to know where to draw the line when you start to give too much or too little. You are no good to the person you are caring for if you are not taking care of yourself. An injured family member can throw your world upside down and you may start to throw all you have as your life starts to become more about them than yourself. At the same time your health starts to decline.
So a good question to ask yourself if you are caring for a loved one is, “While caring for them have I completely lost myself?” It can happen more quickly than you think, and before you know it you’re giving them your all while you’re just going through the motions with yourself. Self-care is important when it comes to your health, spirituality, and overall well-being. Do not feel guilty if you need to take some time to care for yourself. Bad things can happen to caregivers/companions and it can come in the form of depression, sadness, anger, guilt, worry, isolation, resentment, financial difficulties, frustration, relational deprivation, loss of employability, worry about the future, physical illnesses, and psychological stress.
When it comes to self-care start with the basics, eat right, sleep right, exercise, take care of your hygiene, and most importantly, have some fun. It may seem overwhelming to let go for a bit but you have to in order to maintain your own health and sanity. As much as you love the person you are caring for you must also love yourself. It can be very easy to find yourself in a rut and no one can get you out of one except yourself. So go out, run, play sports, watch a game with friends, meditate, do crafts, play football, go fishing, go shooting, play poker, play video games, go for a hike, do whatever makes you happy as long as you are having fun and doing something other than caring for someone else. You can easily find yourself in a place where you start to resent the loved one you are caring for and this can be a dark place to find yourself. Remember you are caring for this person because you love them, now go out and love yourself too.~Katherine~

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About

I graduated high school at 16 and joined the Army as soon as I turned 17, Both of my parents were In the Marine Corps so I knew I wanted to serve. During my last year in the Army, the attack on September 11 occurred and my job kept me in Germany, but a few good friends were able to volunteer. One good friend hung himself while deployed and the rest who returned were nothing close to the guys I used to know. I left the Army in 2003 and have finished all the required classes to receive my Masters in mental health counseling. I am just finishing up my last 3 months required for licensure as an LPC. I deal with trauma, helper’s burnout, sexual trauma, depression, and forensic psychology that brings together mental health and the law.

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This blog is for information only. It is not intended as a replacement for therapy. If you need additional help, please see a qualified therapist.