I Need A Break – Care Giving Is A Tough Job
Do you ever as a carer get taken for granted, do you tell yourself daily “I need a break”? I’ll bet you do, and often too. Care giving is a tough job that goes often unnoticed and unappreciated. As a carer it is often difficult to take breaks. Sometimes what you need is an enforced respite to get you back in your right mind when everything starts piling up on you. Because let me tell you, you will need your strength to bring back a bit of balance into the chaos of your current world. As the image below suggest, you need to do what’s best for you sometimes, and stop worrying about everyone else.
I’m A Prime Example
Take me for example. I have been plodding along, doing more and more to help my mentally ill daughter get through the next set back and the next. You see a need, you fill it, end of story. This is what a carer just does automatically, whether I am also her mother or not. I do this because I want to help, not because it is my responsibility. But somehow, someway, the lines of expectation as to what my role should be always seem to become blurred.
Watch Those Blurred Lines
You will notice this happening rather suddenly, not through a gradual process. As you do more and more for your person that you care for, they begin to expect it, and then they think it is their right to tell you if you are not doing something to their satisfaction. Even going so far as to actually verbally abuse you, or worse, that you are not doing things the way they demand that you do. The eye opener for me was when I was told “it’s not good enough” by my daughter when I was going above and beyond what I should have been as her carer, I told this story in another article, and that was it, she did her dash. Only then will it start to become clearer to you that someone is overstepping the boundaries, and it isn’t you. It’s time to take it back.
Tip The Scales Back
This is when it becomes abundantly clear that there has become a huge imbalance in the way my role as a carer is seen, and what my role actually should be. Somehow, at some stage, the expectations placed upon me had become something to be abused about.
This had to stop. However this insight didn’t just pop up into my mind, although I know it was sneaking around at the edges trying to get in. It hit me with shock force.
A Frightening Experience Drives It Home
I was driving home from my sisters, playing the “it’s not good enough” conversation, over and over and over in my mind. It was dark, it was raining, and I was so engrossed in my mind that I didn’t even realise that I had turned too early and had ended up driving in the wrong lane towards oncoming traffic. Thankfully that oncoming traffic was still some distance away.
I was so confused. I couldn’t even remember where I was or how I had got there. I was able to pull onto a traffic island in the middle of the road, and just sit for a few seconds to collect my thoughts. It was a very scary moment, very scary indeed. How dare I be put at risk with her abhorrent behaviour?
Emergency Respite To The Rescue
I was able to speak to my counselor who was very worried about me. She managed to find some emergency respite and that night I was placed in a motel, away from the ridiculous ideas, demands and appalling behaviour, thanks to some very caring people.
This is where I say you need to be strong. I found the actual leaving part extremely difficult because I had to leave then and there, with dinner only half done, no clothes left out for my granddaughter’s school, no school lunch box washed and ready to go, no towels clean, no transport organised, no one to take my place to take my daughter to her appointment, nothing. I just packed my bags, had a quiet and loving word to my granddaughter about me going away but I will be back in a couple of days, told my daughter I was leaving, and left.
Are You Being Taken For Granted?
The point of all of this is for you to learn to recognise when you are being taken for granted and those lines of responsibility blurred. My girl crossed the line and it took a near accident for me to realise this, it also took a lot of willpower for me to just leave. It goes against my grain because my immediate response to having to up and leave was to want to organise everything for her and my granddaughter, finish dinner, wash towels and dry them, get the lunch box washed and ready, find out her school clothes, hair brush and hair tie, organise transport to the appointment, etc.
I sometimes make it possible for those lines to become blurred because I am a nice person and will just do things if they need doing. But it can create a monster if you are not careful, or if you don’t have support around you.
22 Years Is Long Enough!
In our case it has taken 22 years to get a diagnosis, and therefore I have been forced to do everything on my own without the support of organisations and groups to guide me or to help me with advice, let alone respite. I hope that a lesson was learned, but if not, I also know that I may have to do this again and perhaps for longer next time and I will find it easier.
Redefine Yourself And Your Role
I just want you all to be aware early on that this could be happening to you and so that you have a chance to work out a way to nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. I’m not suggesting that you leave a person who needs physical help to survive. Merely to try to find a way to get help in to replace you so that one, you can have a break, and two that the person you care for gets a taste of just how much you do for them and is less of a monster to you about how you go about doing your caring for them.
Because guaranteed, the person who comes to help will do only what they are meant to, not all of those extra little things that you do. What we need to do is go back and redefine for ourselves, what exactly is our role and what are we willing to do for our charges?
There may be community groups in your local area who help with ‘anything carer related’. Do you have your own counselor? If not, I strongly suggest that you get one.
Have you connected with a carer’s support group or an organisation that are there to help carers? If not, find them. They are full of ideas and information and perhaps can point you in the direction to get your needs met.
Who Looks After You If You Don’t?
Let’s get one thing clear in our heads. Who looks after you? You are important and part of self-care is to make sure you have your supports in place. So the next time you tell yourself “I need a break”, get some support and take one. Some organisations offer carers a support person to work one on one with them to help them find the strength to set boundaries, make difficult phone calls and to just have someone to talk to, confide in. Because caregiving is a tough job, and sometimes we need help, but we can make it a little less that way with good supports.
If you can offer any suggestions for people to re-set their boundaries, please share them with other readers in my comments section.
Thank you for reading
Image number 1 courtesy of rawforbeauty.com