Beauty and The Beast – My Two Sides of Caregiving
This story is mine, but I am writing it for you.
Several years ago I was on fire – fit, healthy and vibrant – living my life exactly the way I wanted.
It was amazing.
And then life happened.
When my Dad, a previously healthy and very mobile 99-year-old, broke his hip, I began a two year journey where I became the caregiver, the doer, and the go to person for family, doctors and nurses – everyone (except myself). I felt lonely and alone. I was tired and overwhelmed. I felt like I held all the weight and responsibility of his well-being and care.
You see, my Dad was an amazing man. My mother passed away suddenly when I was only two years old and my brother just a baby. In an instant he became Mom and Dad, and he did so with love and commitment. He was doting and present in all the best ways; coming home from work to have lunch with us, teaching us essential life skills, planning family vacations. So as his health further diminished, I was determined to take care of him the way he had taken care of us.
Having Dad loved and cared for with all the compassion I could muster was my single priority, but inside I felt out of control, stuck on a hamster wheel with the world spinning around and around. I grew frustrated, exhausted and alone. It felt as if no one was noticing the toll caregiving was having on me.
And yet, despite all the mounting evidence that I was unwell myself, I thought I was doing all the right things. It felt right to not think about myself – I didn’t come first. It felt necessary to push any and all needs of my own aside for the “greater good” of caring for Dad.
I now call this the dark side of caregiving. After interviewing and coaching so many caregivers, I now know I am not alone. Most caregivers do not know how to create or maintain a balanced, nurturing life while caregiving.
Caregivers are in perpetual crisis mode, getting through the next hospital stay, the next fall, the next procedure. When we have a moment to ourselves, we are exhausted and burned out. As a caregiver, my old ways slipped away and before I knew it…
- I comforted myself with food and became a binge eater
- I stopped working out
- My ability to sleep and rest was smothered by my state of stress, overwhelm and worry
- My body image suffered – rapidly eroding my self-confidence while drastically increasing my anxiety
- I was in a rabbit hole. The worse I felt about myself, the more I avoided socializing or networking
- I even put my coaching business to the side-I dabbled in it, but Dad always came first
Sounds depressing, maybe even hopeless, doesn’t it? And really, it is as serious as it sounds. Did you know that conservative studies show that as many as 30% of caregivers die before the people they are caring for? Some studies suggest 40%.
But does it have to be this way? Is there a way to provide loving care to others AND yourself? Is there a way to be of service in a way that doesn’t deplete your energy and your health?
A question I am asked regularly is, “Is it possible to care for myself while caring for my aging parent/s, sick spouse or another family member?”
Thankfully, I now know the answer is YES. This can be a deeply meaningful time in your life.
The role of caregiver has moments that are deeply painful, overwhelming, and stressful.
The fact is, initially, my healing journey for myself, was really only about my commitment to my Dad. For starters, my decline in health (physical, mental, and spiritual) is not what he wanted for me, and I knew this for sure! Secondly, I realized that if I continued on this path of self depletion, I would burn out to the point where I would no longer have been capable of being there for him.
That scared me.
Learning to get support, learning to let go of caregiver’s guilt, and learning to care for myself first while being a caregiver started as a survival project. I needed to be able to show up plain and simple.
What started as a survival project grew into a passion project.
I now get to devote my life to furthering my own loving self-care journey while helping other caregivers do the same for themselves. And to remember the beauty that caregiving also brings to the life of a caregiver.
If only I had known what was possible.
How could I have known that all the overwhelm and sacrifice, is what ultimately led to creating a life full of freedom and authenticity? The pain made me step up for myself in ways I never had before.
I am actively designing my life now to be full of purpose and prosperity.
If you can relate to this story, I am here for you.
- know you want some “me time”, yet the guilt is just too much
- want to get the worry and overwhelm in check and have no idea how
- feel like everyone wants a piece of you and there’s nothing leftover
- run and run until you can’t run anymore, and you know something has to change
Connect with me for a 30-minute Caregiver’s Empowerment Call. Let’s see what one thing we can shift for you so you can see there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Join my new Facebook Private Group. We are a community of support in a safe space so you can ask questions, share your story, get some tips and advice around caregiving and self-care – whatever you need to feel supported and heard.
Fun Facts About Me!
- I am Canadian – born and raised
- I am passionate about all animals – especially cats, dogs, horses and elephants – ok, so most animals – LOL!
- My favourite place to live when I was growing up was St. John’s Newfoundland
- Where I want to live in the near future…in the country, next to water where I can see the stars at night and smell the beautiful trees
- Who do I want to be like, when I grow up –
- Liz Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame and so much more)
- Brené Brown (researcher and author who gave me many AHA! moments)
- A combination of Oprah, Marie Forleo and Wayne Dyer (super powers!)
- Famous people that I have a few things in common with!
- Warren Buffett (investor), Mother Teresa (missionary), Barbra Streisand (singer/actor) and Kate Middleton (princess!)