Care giving is tough......I was a care-giver for my mom, and I am a care-giver of sorts in my work.
A good friend called me this morning, and as we discussed the pros and cons of giving care, I realized that for all the good care you give, it can destroy you. I think about after my mom died, I would look in the mirror and not recognize my own face. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally.
After I started teaching at the rehab center, for the first couple of years, the same thing happened.......
I worked sick, exhausted, tirelessly.....and almost died. It took me awhile to understand that we are not endless supplies of care, that our love and passion, our care-giving has to be nourished. I began to realize that to care for others, you had to care for yourself first. I began to practice what I called the air plane rule.......if the cabin pressure fails, put your mask on first, then help those around you.
I had to be healthy, I had to be happy, I had to be peaceful if I was going to share those things with others.
I have several friends who are in various stages of care-giving.......and I try to gently remind them, they have to put themselves first.......but, I know those words fall on deaf ears. Until the day comes, that you look in the mirror and don't recognize yourself, or you need care......you think you don't have time to care for yourself, others need you. Honestly, care-giving can become almost drug like,
it becomes the fuel that keeps you going, "they need me".......but when you crash and burn, when you need care, it becomes a harsh reality, what caring for others and not for yourself can do.
I understand time constraints, I understand the stress, ........but if you are a care-giver, you have to make time for yourself, for your survival. After all, if you don't make it, then who will care for those that you care for? Without time for yourself, bitterness, anger and resentment can build, adding to the stress of care giving......and stress can kill. I suggest a couple of things......first, take time every day to be grateful and see something good in your life, second, take time for you.......five minutes a day to breathe, call a friend, read a book, take a hot bath......do one thing every day just for you, even if it is just a cup of hot tea.
Care-giving is noble, but destroying yourself in the process is not. Remember the airplane rule, you get the oxygen first, then share.