“I quit!” That’s what you’d like to say some caregiving days.
You feel like crap. You’ve gained a ton of weight. Your life consists of round the clock care–oftentimes for someone who doesn’t seem to appreciate it, and the only way out of this is…death. Yours or your loved ones–not great choices. You don’t know whether you feel like screaming or crying, but running away is definitely topping the list.
You’ve checked into other forms of caregiving–hiring more home health care, nursing home care–both expensive options. The economy isn’t exactly helping these days.
It’s not as if you can just stand up and say, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
Or can you?
Isn’t everything in you is screaming that very sentiment?
Not that you don’t love them. Not that you don’t want them to be treated with the utmost care and dignity, it’ just that it’s never ending. There’s never enough of you.
How to Caregive When You Want to Give Up:
- Embrace your inner Eyore. Sometimes it helps to be grumpy–to get it out of your system. To just let all that negativity out–give yourself permisssion to be a real curmudgeon–especially if you’re always the “nice,” the “up” one. Sometimes we make caregiving look too easy. It’s time to tell it like it is!
- Change one thing. Most caregivers do more than they need to. They don’t say no, not even to the trivial things. It’s time to change that. What’s one thing that drives you nuts? Stop doing it. I got so tired of rechecks. Every doctor wanted to see mother–who had Parkinson’s and could barely walk–and Alzheimer’s back in six weeks. Forget it. I stopped the rechecks. We went only when she needed new medication or had a new problem. Having power in this one area felt so good!
- So quit–for five minutes, or five hours. If you’re being treated ugly or you’ve just had it, say it–“I QUIT!” Then walk out of the room. Walk out the front door. Get your keys and purse and sit in your car. You may not have to or need to go any further than that but I guarantee you, you’ll feel amazing!
- Pretend you’re free. Take it one step further, what would you do if you weren’t caregiving today? Go to the zoo? Zip over to get your hair done? Take a nap? Can you imagine–down to the smell of ammonia and nail polish? Stay in that zone–where you truly believe you’re free–for the next five minutes or five hours–or whatever time you can afford yourself. You quit, remember? So act like it. Give your brain cells a rest.
Why go to all this trouble of pretending? Isn’t that for kids?
Neurologists are finding that we can trick our bodies–by visualization–and if you’re a great little actor/actress your body actually thinks you did that amazing thing–skiied, won an Emmy, or…quit~! It gives your muscles and your mind the break it’s longong for. Don’t be surprised if you kind of miss caregiving–it’s addictive. But you may feel this huge sense of relief, even if it’s only temporary.
Why be so bold? Because you should be caregiving because you want to. Yes, because you’re needed, but also because you love someone and you genuinely want to make their life better.
When you quit it’s like recalibrating something inside you.
When you walk back through that door–do it as a choice–with your heart leading the way.
This won’t solve all your issues. It won’t miraculously give you 20 hours sleep or magically make Alzheimer’s disappear, but it will relieve a little bit of angst.
It will remind you that each day you must choose to love, to give, to be there for yourself and those you love.
When we feel stuck we fall into resentment –or worse, apathy.
So when you need to, quit, give up, and start anew.
~Carol D. O’Dell
Author of Mothering Mother, available on Kindle