It’s about time I stay a little more to the point and the general theme of this blog. This blog is about one unique experience of being a caregiver. The following post is important to share because it talks about burnout which I’ve seen, I’ve experienced, and am constantly recovering from and sinking back into and learning a little more about each time. The post itself doesn’t offer tips of how to deal with burnout, only the signs of it, but isn’t the first step to recovery admitting you have a problem? Introspectively, I realized a lot of my and other people’s behavior and symptoms are more linked to burnout then I knew and it shows up in ways you might not expect. There is a link to a very useful article that does offer suggestions to get back to your right self. This is from a wonderful blog called North Van Caregivers and is a a place to find kind and helpful support.
These are the 9 symptoms of burnout:
- chronic fatigue
- forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention
- physical symptoms such as heart palpitations or headaches
- increased illness (colds, flu or hives)
- loss of appetite
- depression (can be severe)
Here is an interesting article on Burnout prevention and Recovery.
Wishing you the best of health and long life,
I’d like to add some of my own tips for dealing with burn out:
- Forgive yourself when you notice you are burning or burnt out. You are not lazy, weak, dumb, flawed in any way. Really, FORGIVE YOURSELF. You’re working hard and you care very much. Love yourself.
- I always say it: village, village, village. Build it. Make people help you if you have to and don’t feel one ounce bad for it. Caretaking is never supposed to be a one person job but I see it all the time.
- Ask for something if you need it. Don’t judge yourself for what you need. Just ask. People usually surprise you with their willingness to help. And even sometimes, with their understanding.
- Focus on the things you love about the caretaking you are doing. Say them out loud, especially to people caretaking with you. Write them all the wall. Add to them. And know this, if your angry and frustrated and loosing patience, it doesn’t mean you don’t love and appreciate the good things about that person and your life. It means you need rest, or stress relief, or to nourish yourself. You can feel both ways without negating any of your feelings.
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If only my sister could have talked with you. She started ‘managing’ Mum’s Alzheimer before Mum really needed it 24/7. She spent all her time noting down the weird things Mum did, while I saw the amazing ones when I relieved her. And she was ANGRY that her life had been taken away, not even unpacking because she didn’t want to admit she was staying as caretaker. It’s taken her years and years to get over that experience. Thankfully, she is now my lovely sister again, but it is still there inside.
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I’m thinking a lot about what you said here. I’m happy she’s your lovely sister again but I don’t know what I could have said then or now. It is a tough situation and someone has to be the one and how does a family ever decide? It just kind of happens, someone steps up and then they can feel trapped. We feel bitter resentment sometimes. I do. On the blog it sounds so good but I can get mired down. The blog and the writing are here to help me clear those thoughts and remember how lucky I am. Just remember that you were clearly there to help with the burden and help her and your mother in a situation that certainly wasn’t easy for you. Some families dump and run and don’t help each other. If I told her some stories I think she’d appreciate what you did a lot more. 😉
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Thank you for that lovely reassurance. My other sister and I had husbands, she had none and was always short of money, so we thought it would provide her some income and she didn’t say No, I can’t do that.So she held it against us for ruining her life. Sometimes the thing you think is best for someone, isn’t. And I regret we didn’t insist on having mother with us in the US where there were more facilities to help the carer.Hindsight is sometimes cruel.
My brother, faced with increasingly difficult caregiving, told me about a book he was reading ccalled Take Your Own Oxygen First. He found it helpful.
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Thank you very much. I will check that out!