Caregiver Burnout

I was not prepared. 

I went into caring for my mom with my head held high and then it hit me. A few months later and I am experiencing all of the classic symptoms of caregiver burnout. 

  1. Low energy 
  2. Fatigue 
  3. Managing stress with food. 
  4. Withdrawal from activities 
  5. Neglecting personal needs 
  6. Feeling like caregiving is controlling your life. 
  7. Irritability and argumentative 
  8. Anxiety for the future 
  9. Depression 
  10. Difficulty coping with everyday issues 
  11. Physical illness 

When mom got sick, people flooded into our lives.  

We had so much support, people checking on us, prayers were flooding our inboxes, phone calls filled my days and a lot of the time I would wake up to 5-15 messages requesting information about her. It was overwhelming but. I considered it the duty I had taken on. I changed my plans to move. Technically I am/was in a transition period, so I had the flexibility to stay home and be with her, making sure she was getting the care she needed and got to her appointments on time as was required.  I was also managing all of her symptoms, food requests, medications and uncomfortableness. It feels like a huge weight on my chest. 

I feel that the only thing keeping me from going insane are the few things I refused to give up:
  1. Meditation with coffee every morning.
  2. Going to the gym every day.
  3. Therapy 1-2 times per week. 

Keeping some resemblance of normal in the thick of it is hard. I feel I have been combative toward the support systems I do have and at times, highly emotional. What feels like never ending tears lead into frustration and a frozen feeling. Some days go by and I feel like I am never going to get out of this spiral. She is finally starting to have some independence and I can see a light at the end of the tunnel once chemo is complete. 

Recommendations to support the caregiver: 
  • Don’t rush your support, be the person that calls 1-3 months later to check in.
  • Offer time. 
    • 1 hour for the person to get away on a walk is so critical 
  • Offer to clean. 
    • While there is care taking there is also house care that falls by the wayside 
  • Ask how that person likes to be loved. 
    • Sometimes a hug, while the person cries, is all that is needed but it is needed. 
  • If you want to buy them something, ask 1-3 months later. 
    • The initial influx is overwhelming, but months into it, I can think of things that would make life easier.
  • Check on the caregiver. 
    • All day they answer questions about the person they are taking care of. Call and ask how they are doing before you ever mention the other individual. Listen. They don’t need or want any more recommendations. 
Photo by Kat Lennartz

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