WARNING: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE DO NOT FILL BEYOND THIS POINT! – When A Caregiver Explodes
Never do anything when you are in a temper, for you will do everything wrong. - Baltasar Gracian
There is a level on any human being that causes an explosion without warning. The hair pin trigger that goes off once a feather lands on it, releasing all that’s been pinned up behind door number one! What’s happened up to that point is more “stuff” has been shoved into the room called our mind than we are able to contain, causing an automatic release of pressure. A simple, “What’s wrong with you?” or “Hey how are you today?” and off we go. Not familiar yet? Here is a scenario:
Buurrrrring Buurrrring Buurrrrrrring…(Old school phone ringing lol)
Caller: Wow is that how you’re answering the phone these days?
You: You know what I’m so tired of people asking questions they already know the answer to! What does it mean when someone answers that way? It means they were probably busy right, one more friggin thing to do like answer the phone and bam HELLO! HELLO! HELLO! HELLO! Now does that answer your question…?
You: No right?! NO NO NO it doesn’t answer the question! Why? Because you have another question and then another question…I’m tired of answering questions! NO MORE QUESTIONS!!!
Click…(Phone hanging up)
At the moment of the explosion we are unable to think about the person on the receiving end, the only thing we can think about is the release of the pressure and how good it feels to finally let off some steam. It is only after we have decompressed that we realize how rude and insensitive what we just did was. More often than not it happens with someone who has no direct impact on what has caused us to pin up all of our emotions up to that point. The innocent person on the receiving end is clueless but, depending on the level of release, now knows all of what’s been going on to lead us up to that point.
Not taking the time to see to our own spiritual, mental, and physical health will start to take it’s toll on us and we wind up neglected and blaming others for how we feel when in essence we are responsible for how we allow ourselves to be treated. When we don’t see to our own care how can we expect others to look after us? True there will be the few of us fortunate enough to have people who will keep us accountable to our own self-care, but the majority of us are in this thing alone. We many times won’t allow anyone to “speak into our situation” because we become the “know it alls” and not wanting to release responsibility or accept help.
Cleaning Up The Emotional Mess
Caring for our loved ones carries a heavy emotional weight because we watch them suffer and we are there when they are in despair and depression. We may experience certain level of emotional conflict as a result of a loved one saying mean or insensitive things when they are not well, and we don’t respond because we, sometimes, understand they cannot help themselves. That’s a lot of “emotional” responsibility we carry in addition to our own feelings of guilt, resentment, and sadness.
We are not by normally by nature mean-spirited in fact most of the caregivers I have come into contact with are very much “givers” and almost never “takers” which is why we struggle with having help. Talking about our feelings is very important because it keeps us from bottling up negative emotions and it frees our mind, body, and spirit of that same negative energy. Caregiver support groups are great ways to speak openly and honestly about how we feel about caregiving and some of the negative aspects of caring for someone with a mental illness.
If you find you are having difficulty processing your emotions seeing a therapist could be an option. Many people find that a hard reality to accept but it’s sometimes a very necessary process. If you are not comfortable talking with a therapist, seek out a spiritual advisor who can offer solutions and a listening ear. What’s most important is you talk openly and honestly about your feelings and emotions.
If you say something insensitive or explosive to someone apologize. In the scenario above the caregiver is just overwhelmed and anxious and “blows up” at the caller. What would normally happen is a return call to explain we were out of our “ever-loving” mind with stress at the time and we would apologize for our behavior and hopefully not lose a friendship over it. Explaining how difficult it is to care for someone with a long term illness is difficult but not impossible. Try explaining you have lots going on and are trying to work through it, and ask if the friend or family member would mind helping you with a project or a task you wouldn’t mind “letting go” of *insert smile here*
Ask family and friends can you call and just vent sometimes. I would began a conversation like this, “…okay I just want to talk, I don’t need advice right now, I just need to talk….do you know what…” and I would go into what was bothering me. Sometimes just getting it out works. You can also vent into a video too it helps and you can watch it and have a giggle later. A sense of humor goes a long way in this journey.
What Are Some Ways To Prevent An Explosion
Knowing what the signs are of you reaching a dangerous level of pressure helps to know when to take the break and decompress. You would think we would know when we’ve had too much right? That’s not the problem, we are the first to know we are overwhelmed, that’s not the problem. The problem is acknowledging it and then taking the necessary action to fix it. Below are some ways to take the pressure off:
Get some sleep
Eat good food not junk food
Do self-checks on yourself. Where are you spiritually, mentally, and emotionally
Create a self-care calendar and stick to it
Use a journal to write down you true emotions, thoughts and feelings
Take a break regularly throughout your day (set a reminder four times a day six is great)
Join a support group
Take up a hobby
Write a blog
Create an awareness social media account for caregivers who are caring for someone with the same diagnosis as your loved one.
Go for walks
Don’t answer the phone when you are upset
Don’t keep company with people who are “inflammatory” in other words leave the drama queens and kings alone, over there, out there, everywhere but with you and in your company.
What it all boils down to is you must put yourself first. If you don’t care about your well-being don’t expect others to. What we do takes lots of energy and rebuilding our energy resources is a “necessary evil” given the limited amount of time some of us truly have. You are human, even if you feel like a super human that’s still human, and what you must respect about the human aspect caregiver is we need love, understanding, appreciation, rest, and rejuvenation just like our loved ones. Take the time to see about you. Get some rest and shut down the stimulation so that you are able to care for your loved one in a way that is respectful to you and to them.
May today bless you with whatever makes you successful, and may God bless you real good.
I have a really good training program going on right now called “Breaking The Time Bank”which focuses on your self care and the restructuring of your caregiving day that allows for the care of your loved one and a life outside of caregiving for you. If you’re interested click here: #BreakingTheTimeBank and once you have entered your email click the “Click here after registering to purchase the "Breaking The Time Bank" modules for this course” The next training starts February 2, 2016.
La Shawn is a Mental Health Survivor & Mental Health Family Caregiver. Although her passion has always been to help those in need, Homagi began 12 years ago as a non profit for homeless women and children, she chose to use her experience as a Mental Health Family Caregiver to guide other family caregivers on their journey as they assist their loved ones on theirs. She is known for her vibrant smile, easy going personality, positive attitude, and servant spirit. Always willing to stop and listen or share an experience with others, you feel heard and appreciated. Don't let those characteristics fool you into believing she's not an advocate who will stand up, march, and make the voice of the sometimes voiceless heard. A California native, now a Houstonian she loves the beach, hiking, crocheting and woodwork. She is married to her best friend and co-pilots their blended family of 5 children and 3 granddaughters.