Care for Those Giving Care - Barbara Bergman

I've had a very hard time with this part. Caring for myself. Because at times I feel as though I am giving everything in me to Michael, and get nothing back. That feeling, if only briefly, has made me feel ashamed and guilty. It has also made me angry with Michael. Sort of a "how dare you " attitude.

As I said, this doesn't happen often, nor does it last long. But the fact remains, IT DOES HAPPEN. I was having a very hard time with this. I was feeling alot of shame towards myself because I know when I am feeling this way, its because HE is not HIMSELF.
So, to help me, and hopefully help anyone else in the same situation, I went and started to research this. To learn exactly how I should feel. Is this normal? What should I do when I think and feel like this? Should I discuss this with Michael, or would that bring more shame to me?
So many questions I needed answers for. And even though I am searching those answers, finding ways to deal with and cope. They will still return, I will feel like that again because it IS normal for me to feel this. But when it happens again, I will know what to do. To remove myself from the situation, if only for a short while, and focus back to me.
If I can't focus on me, what I think and feel. if I can't scream and cry on those rare occasions, then I will be absolutely no help to Michael. He in turn will not be able to help me.
Here are something I have read, learned, thought about, and my own ideas. Maybe this can help someone else. Maybe, just maybe, someone ( like me) won't feel at times as if they are losing control.
 
Most people, like myself, who has a spouse or loved one with a disorder, has a hard time accepting the limitations put on the disorder. The fact that you can't "fix" them like you want. Patience, a very hard thing to show.
Though it is hard, you still have to be realistic about things. How your loved one is progressing.The challenge is to find the right pace for working through recovery. One of the best ways of doing so is to break the process down into a series of small steps.
Set some small goals you BOTH can work on together. And as those goals are reached, it will also help with the therapy with your loved one. They will feel as though the are accomplishing something. They are gaining control back of their torn apart life. And you will feel like you are finally making some headway. You are finally seeing a light, where none could before be found. As you complete each goal. Set a new one. A little harder to achieve, work on it together until its reached.
Something so small, and simple as this. It helps both, the one suffering from the disorder feel a sense of worth again, and the one who loves that person, you feel like you are part of them again. Like you are doing something for THEM. You don't sit and wonder and feel helpless.
 
There are going to be times, when the goal you are working on seems like it can't be reached. The progress of your loved one, has slowed or stalled because they are having an episode. Don't forget the goal. Don't give up on it. It has to be put on the back burner for a short time. When this happens, YOU, the caregiver, MUST take time for yourself. Find away to remove yourself from that emotionally attachment, if only for a day. You doing this, is also part of your loved ones recovery. Without you focused, they can't be either. You can't be focused if you don't stop shortly for you.
Take a day to do something you enjoy doing. Focus your attention on another family member, the kids, work, etc. Just step away!
Maybe going to the chat room and speaking to others who are not as emotionally attached to your situation. They can and will know what you are enduring, but they don't have that love you feel, and can see things more clearly at those times. I KNOW, I have done that alot myself. It is a huge comfort and at times my salvation as well as Michael's without him even knowing.
Another thing that has helped me is my writing. Not just these articles, though they do help me understand and comprehend so much more. But to sit and write what I feel. I can scream and cry to the paper. I can let it all out. I have even taken everything in me out on the paper then ripped in to pieces. It may sound strange but it gives me a sort of comfort. I have said it, I have screamed it. I cried..then I ripped it to pieces and let it go. I can think more clearly, more reasonably, I can again cope and be more rational instead of emotional.
This is how I get through Michael's episodes. This may not work for you. You just have to find the way to detach yourself for that short period of time.
Try everything here that I have...or try something you find comforting. Just find away to comfort yourself. If you don't you will question and doubt everything you do, then you are no longer a help or support to the person you love.

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