If you are a caregiver, is anyone taking care of you? I wrote an article for TheHufftington Post several days ago, and received a terrific response, as this is clearly an issue that touches many. The stress and strains of taking care of someone chronically ill 24/7 day in day out, no doubt take their toll. Despite wanting to care for your loved one, many emotions come into play and it's only natural you may feel anger, resentment, grief, sorrow or even depression. This is where support groups especially designed for caregivers come into their own, and play an important role, for there are limits that anyone can take in this situation. Being able to talk about issues with others in the same boat, can be very helpful, ensuring the caregiver does not feel alone.
A caregiver needs to acknowledge they may be under constant pressure and considerable stress, for it's not just patients that can be in denial. Understanding and realising it's OK to ask for help may be difficult but is an important step in accepting the situation. Don't be a martyr and struggle alone; accept help graciously when it's offered. One of the most important things for a caregiver is to have some time off and away from the situation; doing something fun, going out with friends, or taking part in a particular hobby that is out side of the home environment. Having "time out" is vital to ensure the caregiver doesn't emotionally "burn out". It is also imperative a caregiver takes care of him/herself; i.e. having regular doctors check ups and not neglecting their own health. It's all far too easy to be immersed it taking care of someone, and forgetting your own needs; going to the dentist, doing some form of exercise that you enjoy, making sure you eat a well balanced diet. You need to take care of you, to enable you to continue caring for your loved one without causing yourself detrimental harm psychologically and physically.
As harsh as it may sound and feel, if you are a caregiver, put yourself first on occasion, because stop and think about it a moment; who's taking care of you?