Do I care about self – care? As a caregiver for the last almost 5 years, I would definitely say a resounding YES when it comes to looking after ourselves in the best way possible in order to do our job of looking after our loved ones in the best way possible. If we don’t heed this advice we jeopardize our ability to do a good job because we will be exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated, depressed and perhaps a whole host of other things. We may get sick physically if we don’t take care of ourselves by eating right, getting enough rest, taking time out for ourselves etc etc.
I know all this. I know how important it is. I have been told over and over and I have read it countless times in caregiver literature how important self-care is.
SO……why don’t I heed this valuable advice for myself??
Good question. I wish I knew the answer but one thing I do know is that being kind to myself is one of the hardest things for me to think about let alone do. For me I am more likely to fight against all self-care, practice self-sabotage and outright do things to bring extra hardship on myself.
I eat sporadically, often eating the wrong kinds of food for good health. I often forget to eat altogether. But I make sure Mom has the best that I can give her, even making extra trips to the grocery store to get just the thing that suits her fancy that day. THIS IS NOT SELF-CARE.
After I get Mom ready for bed and we say our good nights, I often make my way downstairs to watch TV, usually the news, and I fight going to sleep till I finally fall asleep in my easy chair and wake up in the wee hours of the morning. I then stumble up to my bed and awake in the morning groggy and exhausted. THIS IS NOT SELF-CARE.
I am still getting over my viral meningitis. I am by doctor’s orders, supposed to rest as much as possible, drink lots of water and stay off TV, computer screens and reading. So the other day I worked around the house for 7 hours straight. I spend sometimes 2 hours at a time on the computer, I have read 2 books in the last week. I continue to have headaches and exhaustion – the result of my not heeding doctor’s orders. THIS IS NOT SELF-CARE.
Whn things are especially hard in looking after Mom, I often go out wandering. Wandering is my go to activity when I am stressed. Probably from my autism as wandering is often a habit of those with autism. To make things worse I wander the stores and then open my lean pocketbook to buy all sorts of things I do not need. Then I have the added stress on top of everything else of being in financial difficulty. THIS IS NOT SELF-CARE.
I often refuse to look after myself as to washing my hair, wearing clean clothes, and other self-care things people just do on a regular basis. I just don’t care anymore. I get by on the minimum so that I am still presentable in public and I don’t smell or turn people off. I don’t have the energy to look after my self. THIS IS NOT SELF-CARE.
I often turn down invitations to go out with friends or just don’t contact them to get together because I just don’t have the energy or the interest. I am too caught up in making sure I get everything done I need to get done for my Mom. She must come first. She must be looked after as if she were the Queen of England. All my life revolves around her and her issues. THIS IS NOT SELF-CARE.
I often refuse to leave Mom for fear something might happen to her. I often pass-up offers of help so I could go out and do something for myself. I think I don’t need anything. I just want to be with my Mom. Sometimes I think I can do this job all by myself. After all I know my Mom better than anyone else. I know her every need, I know her every routine, like and dislike. Noone else can do it. If someone else does come in to look after Mom, I worry all the time I am away from her. What if they do this wrong or forget that she likes her ice water, or her 2 pillows at her chair or her 2 cookies after her supper. Everything has to be perfect for my Mom. Everything does not have to be perfect for me. THIS IS NOT SELF-CARE.
I guess you could give this an alternate title of ” Don’t do what I do”. I am a very poor example of someone who is practicing self-care. Why?? I’m not really sure. It’s a question I am beginning to ask myself as I struggle along with this caregiving of my Mom. Why must I put myself down. Why must I sabotage myself. My desire to make this caregiving of my Mom is so strong in me, it is my heart’s desire to do the best for my Mom – so why make the journey so much more difficult? I wish I had an answer but I don’t. I just don’t. I guess I just want people to know that self-care IS SO IMPORTANT and NOT to follow the types of things that I do because what may happen is that the job you want so desperately to do the best may just turn out to burn you to the core and you will be useless. Totally useless. I don’t want to go there so I am trying to see this as a real wake up call for me. I am trying to see this as a warning like you see on bottles with poison in them. Take heed while you are still managing. Don’t wait till you are so exhausted and burnt out that all the good you are trying to do is destroyed by your own hands – the hands that gently care for the one you love the most. Wrap those hands around yourself and hug yourself and say, ” YOU ARE WORTH IT” “YOU DESERVE TO BE CARED FOR” – just as much as the one you love and are caring for. THIS IS SELF-CARE!!