Whatever your situation, it is important to remember that you, too, are important.
No matter how well you cope with a caregiving situation, its very nature is challenging. It involves the loss of independence, comfort, ability, health, and ultimately, life. Here are some of the feelings that you may experience as a caregiver, and how you might better cope with them:
1. Risk of social isolation
It’s common for caregiving duties to take up a great deal of your free time, which makes it difficult for you to have a proper dinner with your family or go watch a movie with friends. Caregivers also tend not to talk to others about their caregiving responsibilities due to the stigma around it. This could make you feel lonely, and you could be putting yourself at risk for mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. To mitigate this, find ways to get out of the house and involve in something other than caregiving.
2. Stress and worry
Taking care of a mental health patient and being responsible for their health can be very stressful. There are a lot of tasks to juggle, from managing medications to dealing with challenging behaviours. The longer the person provides care, the greater the stresses build up. If you noticed that you are stressed most of the time, try looking at your wider circle of support – family, neighbours, friends, relatives, to see where you might get some nurturing. Having a support group or a group of family/ friends to cheer you on is important, both comforting and necessary to remain resilient through your caregiving journey.
3. Frustration and anger
As a caregiver, sometimes you may feel that you can’t do anything right or that things just don’t go as planned no matter what you do or how hard you try. Anger and frustration are a normal part of being around someone who needs help on an ongoing basis. If you noticed you have “lost it” while providing care, learn to walk away and give yourself a break to refresh your energy.
Being aware of common issues caregivers face can help you be on the lookout for signs you are experiencing them as well. If you recognise early on that you are feeling isolated, stressed, or frustration, take action to get help. It’s easy for caregivers to overlook their own wellbeing, but taking care of yourself will not only help you, it will help the one you care for as well.