The last 10 days have been really tough with J in hospital – and I was beginning to feel somewhat overwhelmed and tired with it all.
Turning to the old trusted friend Google, I researched some of my symptoms and thoughts – and would you believe – they have a term for it! “Carer Fatigue”
According to the website http://www.webmd.boots.com/caring/guide/carer-fatigue
“Caring for a loved one may leave you feeling emotionally and physically drained at times.”
Yes of course – that’s true. Caring for anyone, a child the elderly, a sick person will be draining at the best of times.
But, it also goes on to say:
“Carer Fatigue is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude, from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.”
So that’s a bit more serious – when you stop caring – or feel negative towards the whole situation. But, I do also think it is part of the process.
You go through all sorts of emotions when you care for someone who is ill. Fear (what’s going to happen?), anger (why us?), love (concern for your loved one), joy (when things go right) – literally everything – so then it is perfectly natural to begin to also feel tired with it all. After all, you are constantly on a roller coaster of emotions.
So, it is important to realise what you as a Carer are going through – and not shy away from it – or be ashamed of it. It is a natural part of the caring process. Rather, accept it, identify the symptoms and seek help. Remember that self-compassion is equally as important in this whole situation as anything else. If you don’t look after yourself, how can you have the strength to look after your loved one?
For my part, I realise that I am at a stage where I need to talk to someone who will listen to me and not judge me. And so, I am booking in some counselling sessions for myself. This is not a weakness or a cry for help – but a realisation that sometimes you just can’t be strong all of the time!