Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Care Partner Wednesday--Don't Carry the Load of Stress Alone

Everyone has things they are famous for among their friends. If you need a card at the last minute, go to this friend--she always has the best cards. That co-worker is well-known for driving her kids and everyone else in her family--everywhere. Someone else will go shopping, anytime, anyplace. I am famous for carrying stuff to work. Crazy, impossible, heavy bags.

My daily commute involves the train, subway and bus. If I need to shop for grocery items for a summer barbecue, decorations, chocolate treats for Bingo prizes, wool for the knitting ladies--it all needs to be carried into work. All my shopping comes to work in bags and satchels and once, a suitcase. My most notorious journey involved a suitcase containing the entire ingredients for Irish stew for 50 people.

In the last several months, I have learned that all this carrying of heavy loads has done some damage and it has to stop. I'm trying to buy things at work, order online or split up the loads.

Carrying a heavy load weighs you down. It can make you sick. A wise person will get help.

Muriel was caregiver for her husband, who had Parkinson's disease. At this point, he needed minimal help, but in the last year, she saw a lot of changes, and they haunted her. She did extensive reading, and knew the disease was progressing more quickly than it did in some people. The drugs weren't improving his health much, and she was terrified of the future. Her fear kept her up at night, listening to her husband's breathing. It caused panic attacks when he was out of the house. She burst into tears one day while doing the grocery shopping, and had to leave her cart in the middle of the store. The next week, it happened in the dentist's chair.

Her husband was concerned. He saw her slowly drowning in her fears, and he felt responsible. He had his own fears, and grappled with depression every day. They were starting to bicker, and he was afraid it was affecting their relationship--a relationship they desperately needed to be strong for the road ahead.

"It's not the heavy load that breaks you. It's the way you carry it." Lena Horne

Muriel and her husband need someone to help carry their heavy load. They need professional help.

Everyone's situation is different, and people struggle in different ways. Circumstances that are difficult but possible for one person might be overwhelming and incredibly distressing for someone else. It doesn't mean that one person is weaker than another. Wisdom recognizes when the load is becoming too heavy, and looks for help.

Professional help comes in diverse forms. A priest, rabbi, minister or pastor. A counsellor, social worker, psychiatrist or psychotherapist. A doctor, nurse or other specialist. Everyone's pain is different and may require more than one form of help, or different kind of help along the way.

Professionals can lighten your load in so many ways. Here is someone who may have perspective and wisdom about your situation. You may be too close to see it. They may suggest resources that you can access. You may need other help, such as medication, for a short period, and certain professionals can help you access this.

Most people, at some point in their care journey, need some kind of professional help. The wise ones realize it.

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