There are so many of us that hash over what we do wrong and not what we do right as caregivers. Out of the 1440 minutes in a day, you can have 1 bad minute and downward spiral into a depression or guilt trip or obsessive self criticism. Nevermind the 1439 minutes you spent being a fabulous caregiver. It is easy to forget the smiles you brought or the meals you fed or the clothes you changed and laundered and the countless times you answered the same questions.
Just those 60 seconds (maybe less) of impatience, irritability or exhaustion can wreak havoc on your mindset for days, weeks or longer. It is a cycle that is almost impossible to break if you are constantly looking to compare yourself to other caregivers or have high expectations of yourself and your ability to maintain perfection in the midst of crisis after crisis, unexpected changes and witnessing firsthand the decline in your loved one.
You probably didn’t go to school to learn how to be a caregiver. You have taken on this role and this task because you are a loving daughter, son, husband, wife, sister, brother or just an amazingly giving person. Whatever your relationship is with the person you take care of, you care. You don’t walk away. You stick around day and after day. And you are human. You are going to have times you feel like you can’t do it anymore. But you do. You are going to get frustrated and want it all to be over. And one day it will be. But in the meantime, you are doing the best you can. You are going to feel guilt for being healthy and not sick. Try to enjoy your abilities and use them to take better care of yourself. You are going to regret not doing enough. Focus on all you do. You are going to wish you had known the timeline and had prepared more. There is no guaranteed timeline for any of us and see back to my reference of not being trained and educated for this 24 hour “job”.
You are you. You are a caregiver and sometimes you will do amazing things. But you are human and not perfect. Therefore, you will do some things that are not quite so amazing. You may be ashamed. You may feel inadequate. Don’t. There are 86,400 seconds in each day. You are allowed to take 60 or 120 or 180 of them and not be perfect. Focus on all the seconds you are.