When I first wrote this Blog I to focused on literal strength and resilience and as my day went on and I spoke with one caregiver after another and watched post after post of the difficulties faced by caregivers everyday it prompted me to share another one of my blogs “FAMILY CAREGIVING CHRONICLES: PRECIOUS BROKENNESS - Accepting the Journey & the Hope” to give an account of a very difficult time of the mental health journey my family faced. Sharing what we have experienced as a family, as a family caregiver, and as a survivor of depression and anxiety for me has been therapeutic. Sharing allows me to give hope to other family caregivers who may believe things will never get better.
Growing up I learned from my great grandfather and from my grandfather a great deal through “stories” which their fathers and mothers told them, stories which had moral lessons in them to inspire and to cause one to reflect on their lives or actions. I used the same method of sharing life lessons with my children and my granddaughters. A very famous Indian story “A Tale of Two Wolves” gives an account of how we live our lives intentionally by choice.
When I went over the blog I thought how would I have wanted to be encouraged when I was down to the deepest of despair and I thought of how calming “stories” from my grandfather was which prompted me to go back to my roots on this one. Being an animal lover, especially dogs, it made sense when as I trolled through my images to use for this blog a “lowly looking” fox caught my eye. Foxes are well known for their “slyness” but what many people don’t know about is their resilience. A fox is a solitary animal by nature, they can live above ground or below, they can climb trees and sit on low lying branches, they are great night hunters, and they adapt to any environment. What is most important is how they hunt. They use a magnetic field in the earth to be the most effective and most accurate. If they don’t hunt they don’t eat. No food, no survival.
How can this apply to a Family Caregiver? When we think of the tireless hours we put into a day of the care of our loved ones and how the care demands are met many times under the cloud of extreme fatigue and many times without the help of anyone, it’s easy to make the parallel of the solitary life of the fox and that of the caregiver. Hunting alone and living alone, doing it all alone right? But whose watching the pups? There is a sister fox from outside or a daughter fox from the previous litter who takes on responsibility of the care while the mother and or father fox goes out for food. In some of our family structures that is not the case…we don’t have family members who will step in while we step away? Think sister fox an unrelated extension of the mother fox. Think about this for a moment. If foxes are solitary by nature why would there be a sister fox? Because even in nature help is necessary for survival at times.
When we look at the many forms and ecosystems in nature there is one process that depends on another to be successful and the absence of that factor can mean the difference between survival and extinction. We can go back to Adam and Eve in the bible where there was a need for a helper, a companion, a friend. Even the animals came in pairs so there is some logic to why there is the ability to procreate even down to the cellular level for some cells. Not to get off topic but there is an order required to sustain life. Without it there is disorder and the danger of knocking off the balance and being left open for attack. If no ones minding the pups they are at risk for being eaten by a predator. For the family caregiver the predators are depression, anxiety, hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, and a host of other physical and mental ailments.
We are very much built for adversity as we find after conquering different life challenges. What a caregiver goes through on a daily basis and yet still remain effective rivals many a researchers. We know the amount of strength and courage it takes to get through our day and how much we must endure and respond to. We know how tired we are at the end of the day, and how in need of a break we are, so why don’t we take the time to invest in getting the help we need?Because it takes too much work and we are already spent from what our day demands of us. That’s why. It’s not about being too worried about our loved ones being left in the care of someone else, that’s only part of the “why”. Deep down inside we are just too darn tired to have to deal with all of the resistance and all of the research and all of the prepping. We would rather just “get through”. That is the reality of it.
Your survival depends on your ability to leave your home if only for just a moment. What we have gotten away from is the “community” of who we are. Many of us have family who just won't help us, and who are the least bit of concerned. Many of us have no family to help us. Many of us have friends who fell off because of the amount of time we spend caregiving or they just got tired of hearing about a day in our life of caregiving. Many of us don't have families or family members who will get on board with helping with care, hence the fact there's no help right now. There is also another fact being we haven't asked anyone or told anyone we need help. We have made ourselves appear so self sufficient that no one knows we even need help.
There was a time where neighbors knew each other and the family members of each home on our block. It was the Splanes live on the corner there they’ve been here for 30 years we watched their daughters grow up, and that’s the Holmes over there they own the cleaners on the corner…it was a real knowing of our community. Now it’s the people who bought the house on the corner and the husband drives the purple Mercedes. No more intimate and personal meetings between people, now there is the threat of this and threat of that. It’s about staying indoors and protecting ourselves and our loved ones.Meeting people and making acquaintances is what we have to get back to. Going over to sit with Mr. Jones while Mrs. Jones runs to the grocery store or goes to get her hair done is where we need to get back to.
When I share experiences about being a family caregiver, and a mental health family caregiver specifically, I do so to raise awareness to that one person who may be reading this blog and thinking how much they are not involved with their community, as well as to let other caregivers know they are not alone. I'm hoping something that I share helps someone. Imagine the amount of people’s lives we could impact if we were willing to take care of our own communities and get back to the place of “community”. There would be no room for stigma if that was the case.
What can you do today to make preparation to have someone come in to help you with the care of your loved one? Is there family you can bring in to help but you are letting pride prevent you from reaching out? Have you checked for resources in your area that you or your loved may qualify for to help ease the weight of the care demands you have throughout your day? Have you spoke to your doctor about the limited resources you have? Many times doctors have access to programs or knowledge of programs that could help you and your loved one. Have you tried contacting an organization that is specific to your loved ones diagnosis?
Solitary confinement only works for so long before you start to feel trapped and before you must leave the house to get groceries, or go to doctors appointments, or therapy sessions. You are resilient and strong you have proven that by the amount of time you have taken on this responsibility for your loved one, now it’s time to reach out and get help. Yes it’s going to take more energy than you have already, but once you set the plan in motion help shows up and you are empowered because you did it! You made a way out of no way.
If you need help and assistance to guide you on your way reach out to an organization like Homagi where you can find people who will help you to identify your needs and to seek out the resources you need as well as equip you with the tools you will need for this journey and to keep you and your loved one in the best shape to live a better life. Your days don't have to be overly tough or full of anxiety. You can be happy to greet a new day. You can have more order in your day when you have an idea of what you are going to do for your loved one and for yourself throughout it.
Take some of your energy you are using right now to begin your search for what you need to get started now. Click here if you would like me to help you get on your way. Thanks for stopping by. Come back again soon. There are new blogs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as well as Scopes on Periscope 7PM CST. Watch online at: Periscope.TV/HomagiOne or get the App it’s free.
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. At $1.00 a day the amount of information and structure you receive in this challenge will empower you for years into your caregiving journey and affect other aspects of your personal development!
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.
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