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“Caregiver’s Burnout Syndrome”…

Now I know what is wrong with me but how do I break the silence and ask for help? One Caregivers' story.

There are words and images we hear or see which become forever embedded in our minds.   Some beautiful and joyous as in the birth of our first born or any child.   Perhaps the day we took our marriage vows in a dimly lit church filled with luscious floral displays or a particularly sunny and bright day when our name is announced during a commencement ceremony where we earned our Master’s Degree.  If I had any artistic ability whatsoever, I know I could paint you the exact picture of those moments in my own life.  Happy, joyous and free.  This is when we are living, so when did we stop?

On the other side of my mind are the traumatic memories…I long to lose, erase or resolve so I never picture them again.  Arianna’s book Thrive was the first non-fiction novel I have read which made me feel it was okay to tell others, “yes, I am burned out”.  “You are right!”

Now that I know this, what can I do to take my first step towards changing this situation without resources, helping-hands of any kind, nor what someone once referred to as “low maintenance” friends or family.    My siblings, parents and I  were so privileged to have my Nanny, whom we called Aunt Hetty, and her helping hands while growing up in a nuclear family of six and an extended family of many.  Nanny served so many positive purposes in our lives she is one of those “wonderful” memories, images or names embedded with love and gratitude in my mind.

Today’s world is accelerating at such a rapid pace in which I fear we are losing the “Nanny’s” of our’s and not the Millenial’s lifetime.   Albeit a medically diagnosed syndrome, CBS along with it’s physical consequences I strive to overcome daily is tearing me apart not in my mind but in my heart.  Others say to me when they take the time to call “Oh I am so sorry”, “this is so unfair”, “I hope things get better”, or the best one “what are you going to do?”

Truth be told, I first wrote the above draft a few months ago while I still had Internet in the large old family home of my friend in which I live as a caregiver.   I dare not show you the “teensy room” or closet I slept in for two long years now,  where I breathed through an opened window all night long or not breathe at all.   I had become so ill, so depleted, so near death in my own mind and also in the mind’s of the few I am totally “honest” with I just had to STOP.  PERIOD.  This is not a hiatus from the world here, it is a never ending cycle of negativity which was devouring my spirit and my very soul.   I asked for help, I really did, but I asked the wrong people.

Lesson One:

It’s not a job if you are not getting paid!

Only recently did I realize what a fool I had been while watching a trending movie on DVD where a rich couple who run dry of funds “pick up” a Nanny in an absolutely petty and pretentious way.  She was a Flogger, not a Blogger and all her acquaintances were spying on her flog and whispering between themselves, “Doesn’t she know she’s just working for free”.  Well, if you don’t know the scene I am referring to, it absolutely explains my life for the past two (2) years.

It wasn’t until the cold of winter hit, my teeth were all impounded from “stress-induced” grinding, my hair started to break-off, my eyes were sallow, my blood was anemic, my clothing was retaining a “bad inside air” odor that I stopped.  I didn’t totally stop yet, but I stopped in my mind.

Lesson Two:

“When flying on the plane the oxygen mask falls to the parent first, not the child”.

This might be an overused analogy by this point in time but it is the best one I can remind myself of daily.   Putting on my oxygen mask means drinking my coffee first, eating my breakfast and taking care of my own personal hygiene.   Now it might seem simple to those of you who don’t bear a sign on your backs that says, “kick me while I am down”, but to those of us who do, reaching around oneself with exhausted arms to tear it off can take days, months, even years.  We recognize we are being used up, abused at times, yet we go back for more.   How do we stop?   God stops us!  We either run out of phsyical stamina, money, food, friends and family to call and vent with or we just realize the poisonous venom named resentment is eating us apart.    I dread every single immunotherapy session now, whereas before I couldn’t wait to bring him in, stop at the store, cook the meal, make the bed, dish out the meds and ask of him, “How are you feeling honey, is there anything ELSE I can do for YOU?”  No more.

This is why people either have a family (who might think paying some of the bills is helping out) but it ain’t.   It just ain’t.  Unless you have been there in the midst of your own emotional burnout watching yourself in the mirror in the morning and thinking “how can I fix how myself to look as good as I use to when I worked for myself?” well, you don’t know what to do.   You Quit!   You give a kind and meaningful notice, and you simply quit!

#afterburnout

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