Episode 43: Are You Worth Your Time?

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Does it ever surprise you when you realize the amount of time and energy you put into taking care of your spouse? If you sat down and listed everything you do as a caregiver it would be eye opening wouldn’t it. Especially if you took that task list and showed it to someone you know who has no idea of what it is really like to be you.

 All the doctor’s visits you go to. The meals made. The changing of bandages, checking up on medications. The hugs and reassuring kisses. Letting them know you will help them through this next phase. The energy that goes into worrying, being anxious. The strength needed to advocate for them and make sure nothing slips through the cracks. The phone calls to settle hospital bills that weren’t coded right and insurance claims that weren’t filed properly.  

That’s not even half of it. Right?  

How about all the things that your spouse usually does but can’t right now because they are recovering, hurting, not able to function as they used to. Then there are the kids if they are still at home with you. Or the pets that you now have to care for all on your own. 

All of these things you do for them. All the time. All the energy it takes to be you right now so that you can be there for them. All these things you do out of the love you have for them because otherwise there is no way you could make it through all of this crap. 

Does it surprise you that you can do all of this for one human being? That you have the strength to make it through the things that are difficult to do? That you have the energy to keep up with everything and you are still there to support them emotionally?  

When you look at all of that, all the things you do to help your spouse, isn’t it surprising? Surprising that you can do all of that.  

So let’s start another list. 

Does it ever surprise you when you realize the amount of time and energy you never give yourself? Does it alarm you how you can write pages of things you do for your spouse but can count everything you do for yourself on one hand?  

In fact does it surprise you how long a list you can write if you list out the things you don’t do for yourself? Eating nutritious meals regularly, go to your own doctor’s appointments, make sure you take time for a nap during the day if you need it. Talking to your spouse or to someone who can listen about your own fears and doubts.  

That’s not even half of it, is it.  

How about the nights you can’t sleep because you have too much to worry about. Or the fact that you don’t ask for help because you have no idea where to begin. Maybe it’s not letting on to your friends and family that you don’t have it all taken care of AND you’ve spent so much time trying to hide it that you feel trapped and can’t cry out for help. 

How about all the things you used to do for fun for yourself before your spouse got sick that you never do anymore. Or the fact that you have been wearing the same outfit all week not because it’s soooo comfy but because you gave up caring and don’t have the energy to pick something up that is clean.  

Tell me, would you want to show that list to someone as well?  

How does that make you feel? Does this cause you to get angry or frustrated? Do you feel like crying because it’s true? 

I know it angers some of you to even hear someone suggest that you take care of yourself. Self care makes you blow your lid because you believe that no one who is a caregiver has the time or energy for that crap. And really what the hell does that even mean? 

Yeah I’m saying it…. 

You’ve listened to, or read, almost 40 episodes of this podcast… you know life hasn’t been easy for me since my husband has been diagnosed with cancer. So I’m saying this from experience. 

If you don’t find a way to take care of yourself you will need to find someone to take care of you AND your spouse because there is only so much your body can take. 

If you don’t go to your own doctor’s appointments, if you don’t learn how to lower the amount of stress you carry, you will not make it as a caregiver. If you don’t take breaks for yourself throughout the week you will become a bitter person who hates their life and hates taking care of the person you care for. If the way he sucks his teeth or the things she says bring you to the brink of an angry outburst now, how do you think it’s going to be for you a year from now if you continue with life this way? 

I get it … 

it’s infuriating for people to tell you to put your air mask on first and that you can’t give from your cup if it’s empty. That’s all a load of crap, you say. 

I was there too. I know how frustrating it is to not have the energy to do anything for yourself because you have given everything you have to that other person. And I know for a fact you don’t like being there. No one does. 

So what do you do?  

Where is the love for yourself?

Of course you can’t do a complete 360 and be the best person you can be all in a day. Listening to this podcast can plant the seed but the work to water it has to all be done by you.  

The question is - are you worth your time?  

Sure you can give reasons why you don’t ever get around to drinking a couple of glasses of water during the day or why you just can’t leave you house to take a 5 minute walk. Is it that easy to find a reason not to take your spouse to their chemotherapy appointments or the next CT scan? Your health and wellbeing should be just as much of a priority as your husband’s or wife’s but for caregivers the easiest thing for us to do is not do anything for ourselves.  

There are lots of reasons why. You don’t have to name them - I’ve already used them up in my own life.  

You know what made me change how I lived?  

I wasn’t happy… Life felt too hard and I felt like it was just passing me by without being able to participate in it. I wasn’t a fun person to be around a lot of the time. The stress of being a caregiver made it hard for me to be a spouse and a parent. Everything became a struggle and I felt the more I struggled with life the harder it got.  

So I’m here to tell you that nothing will change until you start to matter. Not to the outside world, because I know you make a difference in the lives you touch. You’re a person that cares so much they will do anything to take care of a loved one. You are important to the person you care for and the loved ones around you. No, you have to matter to yourself. You can give so much to everyone else but when it comes to caring for yourself there’s just nothing there.  

You have to love yourself enough to care …and then you have to be able to accept that your life can be better and also suck at the same time.  

Once you are able to do that, the changes you will be able to make will allow you to find ways to enjoy the life you are living.  

If you need help figuring out what the next step is leave me a message and we can figure it out together. 

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