Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

When Things Fall Apart

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!

We’ve all heard the phrase “care for the caregiver”.  I guess it could become a never ending chain of care since once someone steps in to “care for the caregiver” they themselves become a caregiver.  It’s clear that when providing care for someone and making lots of decisions you have to pick your battles.  However, it’s really important that you don’t give up ground you’ve worked so hard to gain.  There is a dance of seduction that the caregiver gets drawn to because everyone around you knows that you’re a bit compromised.  It’s this compromise that can lead you into feelings of despair and hopelessness, so let’s cut it off at the pass.

Yesterday’s post focused on creating boundaries and structure for life’s messes.  Creating your own boundaries is a turf battle.  You’ve obtained certain strengths and created a certain level of calm and then someone tries to throw you off balance.  The biggest tactic those around you will use is either guilt or emotional upheaval.  We are all suckers when someone starts crying, so you have to decide if it’s genuine or a manipulation.  Once someone knows the plays in your playbook it’s easy to undercut your authority. 

Although much of these thoughts are universal; it’s a big factor if you’re caring for a child with an illness.  We all have a special spot in our hearts for children, but pushing the boundaries isn’t going to serve them and it certainly isn’t going to be in your best interests.  We do have to remember that  a child that has an ill may have siblings and these siblings may be suffering silently or not so silently if they are acting out.  The structure you can provide is the container that lets them know they are safe.  Safety for kids is a key factor in coping with difficult family decisions. 

There are no clear cut answers because every family is different.  Adults have to provide safety and security for everyone in the family, not just the person who needs care.  When people act out, whether they be kids or adults its the equivalent of speaking.  Their actions are their vocabulary and if you’re not fluent is their actions you may be missing a lot of the conversation.  The key is to set rules and get everyone speaking the same language.  If you need to bring the family to therapy do it.  There is no time to waste because the symptoms will only get worse and you, the caregiver will become so depeleted that your own physical, emotional and spiritual defenses will succumb to the pressure.