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    By Amy and Bernadette

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Taking Care of Business – Caregiver Survival

image credit to fineartamerica.com

image credit to fineartamerica.com

At times I want to run away from caregiving.  I don’t want to be the one there to support someone as they go through depression.  I don’t want to listen one more time to a list of negatives from the suffering individual.  And at other times, I am okay with all that.  I am quick to listen, patient and loving.  No doubt about it, caregiving has a range of emotions.   Whether it is anger or sadness, exhaustion or exhilaration, stress or patience, those emotions cause the caregiver to walk a slick and dangerous slope that might lead to burnout and even depression.

Caregivers need to watch out for signs that burnout is near.  Perhaps you might find that suddenly normal activities might be difficult to perform.  Or are you waking already exhausted and the day has not begun?  Is your mind is clouded with feelings of doubt in your ability to be of any help to the depressed person?  The feeling of being overwhelmed is something that can’t be escaped when burnout looms.  The caregiver often wonders if they will be able to keep up the pace, be there for the depressed individual.

If you as a caregiver are feeling helpless and full of self doubt, seek help.  Find out ways to reduce your stress.  Ask someone for assistance in day-to-day tasks.  Change what you are doing on a daily basis.  If you don’t take a walk because you don’t want to leave the person you are caring for, change and make it a point of going for a short walk each day.  If you tend not to talk about your problems with others, break that habit and let a trusted friend know how you are feeling.  Talk to them about ways in which you could lighten your burden.

And pull out some paper.  Put “depression” on one sheet and the name of your loved one on another.  Now list under “depression” all the things you hate about depression and what it has done to the person you love.  Then list under your loved one’s name all the good things you remember about them when they were well, the things that made this person special to you.  Let that simple exercise help to remind you that there is hope that things will get better and with you taking care of yourself, good mental health will always be present in the equation.

-Bernadette

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