While people may look at all you do and say things like, “you’re so strong,” or “I don’t know how you do it,” we don’t always feel these things, and sometimes, caregivers have thoughts and feelings that they may not be proud of.
Guess what? You’re not alone. Anyone who tells you they are happy every minute of every day is probably lying. Not all caregiving tasks are fun and not all moments are pleasant.
Negative Caregiver Emotions
You may feel guilty feeling these emotions, or not want to express them out loud, but these emotions are totally normal and it is highly likely that every caregiver has felt them at one time or another.
Whether you resent the situation (why did my spouse have to get in an accident) or you resent the cause (if my mom didn’t smoke, she wouldn’t have been this sick) or the change to your lifestyle (I used to have time to go out with my friends or travel), feelings of resentment are common.
Accepting these feelings and understanding that they are normal is the first step to feeling better. Once you’ve accepted these feelings, find a way to re-frame your mindset. Instead of thinking, why did my spouse have to get into an accident, think, I’m so glad I still have my spouse in my life. Instead of thinking, why did mom have to smoke and cause these health problems, think, I am going to take better care of myself so that my later years aren’t filled with doctor appointments and illness. Instead of thinking, I used to have a full life and now I am just a caregiver, think of ways to bring joy back into your life. It may not be in big ways like in the past, but find daily ways to feel happy.
It is perfectly normal to feel anger when you are dealing with tasks that you don’t want to do or your caree is less than grateful for what you do. You may also feel anger if you are dealing with a financial impact of caregiving. It can be expensive to be a caregiver. Loss of work, out of pocket expenses that are not covered by insurance and paying for conveniences because you are too busy to do things yourself can all add up.
If you feel anger over doing tasks that are difficult or that you don’t enjoy, consider hiring a caregiver to assist with those tasks. Perhaps you bring someone in just for personal care or certain cleaning tasks. Practice shortcuts and cost-cutting tips to help with the fact that you’re bleeding money. And finally, consider keeping a gratitude journal to focus on the things you are thankful for or do some of these three minute stress busters to help blow off steam.
Anxiety can be a normal emotion for anyone in these crazy busy times. We are expected to be accessible all the time, thanks to smart phones, and life is moving at a faster pace than ever before. Add in the stress of caregiving and the fear of your loved one falling more ill or watching their health decline and it’s no wonder your anxiety levels are at an all-time high.
Try coping techniques to reduce your anxiety. Meditate, go for a walk, take a hot shower or do whatever helps you relax. You can also join a caregiver support group either in person or online to speak to others in the same boat. If your anxiety is unusually high and self-care is not working, see your doctor. You may need to re-set your body through medication. There is no shame in reaching out for help.
Boredom or Impatience:
It is not strange to feel bored with your new role. You probably had a full-time job where you interacted with people on a daily basis and a full social life. Suddenly, you’re spending the majority of your time with someone who needs your help with menial tasks and not feeling challenged. You may also get impatient with how slowly your loved one moves or their inability to do simple tasks. These are normal feelings.
To cope with the boredom or impatience, find ways to challenge yourself or engage with others. If you can’t get away for several hours, consider online courses or support groups. You don’t need to leave the house to interact with others.
Caregiving can be isolating. There aren’t enough hours in the day to foster friendships, so you tend to spend all of your time with your caree, who may not be the best company. If you had a full social life in the past, it can be even more frustrating to be left out of your social circle.
If possible, enlist other family members, friends or neighbors to provide you with time away. Whether you get a lunch away or a night in a hotel, just getting out of the house, among others will help with loneliness. You can also reach out to your friends via phone, email or text. Sometimes, they stop reaching out because they don’t know if it’s a good time to chat or what you need. Take the first step. If you are having trouble relating to people from your former life, join a support group either on- or off-line.
While these may feel like terrible emotions to admit to when caring for someone you love, they are totally normal and you should not feel embarrassed that you feel them. Find ways to re-frame them and pull yourself out of the funk. If you feel that you can’t do it on your own, reach out to a counselor for help. You don’t have to live an unhappy life while you are caring for others.