Do You Trust Your Caregiver Instinct?
"Don't you dare underestimate the power of your own instinct." - Barbara Corcoran
What is Instinct any way? According to Webster’s Dictionary, “a way of behaving, thinking, or feeling that is not learned : a natural desire or tendency that makes you want to act in a particular way”. So when we as caregivers have that nagging sense that something is just not right about our loved one we are more often correct than not.
I have talked with other Mental Health Caregivers who have shared how they, in hindsight would have followed their “first mind” when it came to the behavior and actions of their loved one which pointed to a potential problem. We normally know when there is something just not quite right about our loved ones and we will inquire if they are feeling okay, of course they may not always confirm or deny our suspicions and we, not wanting to cause a disagreement, may push our feelings to the side concluding we were just reading too much into it.
What about the times when we ignore those feelings and the very thing we were being “tugged” about happens? Sometimes we notice small subtleties in the changes in our loved ones and to keep down the arguments we don’t mention them or contact the doctor or other members of our mental health care team. Finding out later we were correct about our “intuitions” is sometimes comforting and other times upsetting because we can start to think about the many things we could have done in advance had we followed those feelings.
Doctors can sometimes cause us to second guess our intuition when we ask questions or voice concerns and I can’t say it’s because they don’t care but what I will say is sometimes doctors are so busy looking at the results that common sense occurrences are not considered. As caregivers we spend the most time with our loved ones engaging in their daily lives therefore we notice things that a doctor cannot possibly see. When we notice a change in behavior(s) or symptoms with our loved ones writing them down and inquiring if our loved one is feeling “okay” is a good idea.
Medications can sometimes become ineffective or need modifying. Food allergies can appear or be the result of new medications. Physical ailments or surgeries can affect your loved one and change the effectiveness of their therapy program.
It’s important that you learn to be fearless when it comes to facing the other members of your mental health team. We can be made to feel “insignificant” by professional medical staff when we inquire about the effectiveness of the medication or therapy our loved one is receiving. Don’t allow intimidation and fear to cause you to be silent on what you feel about your loved ones change in behavior or effectiveness of medication.
Ask questions when you feel something just isn’t right and be persistent when the doctor says, “Oh that’s nothing to worry about…” ask if it can be looked into just to be sure. If there is nothing there don’t feel bad about asking there are so many stories of caregivers who had a “feeling” about something with their loved one and it may not have been the exact issue they mentioned but something else was discovered.
It’s okay to be wrong it’s not okay to be fearful of being wrong. Follow your intuition.