Sometimes respite, support groups, help in the home and other diversions are not enough to dilute negative thoughts and feelings that can come at various times or be persistent as a caregiver.
Feeling, trapped, guilty, exhausted, frustrated are common emotions experienced by caregivers.
If you simply can’t “shake” them, you are probably experiencing caregiver burnout.
Whether your feelings can be labeled or not is beside the point. You feel the way that you do, and your feelings are valid. Attention should be paid to them in order to avoid dangerous behavior which can occur after sustained periods of depression, anger, isolation and guilt.
Professional counseling is a wonderful service that we caregivers should never be ashamed of taking advantage of.
I had, and still have, some issues of my own:
Issue – “I cannot understand, after all of these years of caregiving why……. my wife’s children, who all live out of town don’t step up and help her. Not me, but her. THIS IS YOUR MOTHER!!!!….I just can’t understand it! Can’t you call? You sometimes don’t even call or send a card on Mothers Day or her Birthday……YOU WEREN’T RAISED THAT WAY!!!!! I just don’t get it?”
Commentary – I hope that you can feel the anger as you read this paragraph. I know another person might be able to just blow this off, but I’m not that person. This anger and frustration have bothered me for over 10 years! That’s a long time to carry this.
Issue – When can I just go to sleep and wake up when I want to? WHY can’t I just take care of ME? WHY do I have to take care of someone who needs MORE care than I DO?
Commentary – Perhaps this sounds like a small thing to non-caregivers, it’s a really big thing in that day in, day out, caregiving doesn’t stop! It wears on you and can make you bitter, angry and at times, not very nice. Again, in the above paragraph, I hope that you can feel the despair, the feeling of being trapped with no way out.
Issue – I didn’t sign up for this when I married her! This is my second marriage, it was NOT supposed to be this way, these were NOT my plans. I turned from being a husband to a caregiver. When we go anywhere, I have to pack “stuff” not a lot different than the things that I had to bring in a “diaper bag” when the kids were young. WHAT ABOUT ME? MY future! Don’t I get to love and be loved? What about INTIMACY? I’m young, don’t I deserve better?
Commentary – As I write this paragraph I can feel my emotions being “ramped up” Can you?
Issue – Why, Oh Why, can’t I get away without feeling GUILTY? I can’t even go out to cut the grass without feeling that I have to be with her, to entertain her, Am I RESPONSIBLE for providing entertainment and HAPPINESS for her? I’m TIRED of feeling guilty! I’m running out of ideas to amuse, stimulate and entertain her.
Commentary – Feeling guilty is the hallmark feeling of caregivers. It is self-imposed in many cases. It is the gateway to other destructive feelings, anger, loneliness, bitterness…..I have had them all. How about you?
Although it is in my nature to try to help myself, there have been and still are times, even after 15 years of caregiving that I simply cannot cope with being a caregiver. When these frustrations persist, negative behavior can take over as I will illustrate below.
There are times that there simply no answers or seeking answers may pose risks that would potentially have negative consequences.
For example, approaching family members who won’t engage with the loved one that you are caring for.
Because this behavior may be so objectionable or appalling to you, you may not handle the intervention correctly triggering resentment, anger and perhaps make the situation worse.
Negative Action / Inaction / Reaction
- Do Nothing – Doing nothing can make these feeling fester and grow. Doing nothing can make you a different person, sometimes not a very nice person and can increase isolation.
- Take it out on your loved one, family, friends
- Revert to Alcohol
- Depend on Drugs
- Acquire stress related illnesses
- Suicidal thoughts
Venture Forthe the Counseling Services
We can and do provide Consumer Integration Counseling to significant individuals in the client’s life when what is discussed has to do with the client’s current situation. The client doesn’t necessarily need to be receiving the service for the significant other to receive it although the client has to be in the home while the service is being delivered. Often times, this service helps to alleviate stress for Caregiver, the staff and our client.
The Clinical Department looks for referrals like this as it is a really good service for most. The following should be contacted to set up this service:
- Chris Roche in our main office (Niagara Falls) 716-285-8070 ext.110
- Brian Carey in the Olean area ext.254
- Jillian Bayley in the Rochester ext.214
Outside Therapists and Counselors
Note, not all Therapists and Counselors have experience with Caregiver issues. Be sure that they have this experience. It may be prudent to ask for a caregiver reference to ensure that you have selected the right counselor / therapist.
Also check if your private insurance, Medicare, and / or Medicaid are accepted as payment by these Therapists and Counselors as well as Agencies that you might select.
Seeking help is NOT a sign of weakness; it is a sign of COURAGE. The courage to help yourself, loved ones, family members and friends!!