I’m Still Stuck?

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling like I’m stuck in this Covid mess that we are in. I’m tired of wearing masks every time I walk into a building for work or the store. It’s really wearing on me. Going to the doctor isn’t simple anymore. Before walking in the doctor’s office or just after I get there I have to do a questionnaire. Before I go to work every morning I have to fill out a questionnaire that tells me I’m likely to be able to work. {{{SIGH}}} Yes, I’m feeling stuck. I know that I’m one of the lucky ones. I haven’t gotten Covid, although I know a lot of people who have. I still have my job, I didn’t have a loss of income. I know a lot of people who have really been negatively impacted by this. I’ve been blessed considering everything.

In my last post I mentioned (but didn’t get into) the way you feel when you’re stuck. You feel weary, frustrated, tired and angry. Well, weary of what is happening, especially if it’s the same old, same old everyday. Frustrated because it seems like you are not making any progress on anything. You feel tired because, usually, you are also depressed, which makes you tired and the more you think about being depressed the “tireder” you get. And finally, you get angry. At yourself, your situation, at people who just happen to cross your path the “wrong” way. We aren’t good for anyone or anything while we feel this way, and we need to stop the cycle.

Believe me, I still get these feelings, especially now in the Covid situation. Thing are not “normal” (what ever that means). I’ve found out that “normal” is a setting on the clothes dryer and nothing else. I’ve even come to hate the term “new normal”. What happened to the old normal? Was there even a thing that was normal? Not in my life….

I digress… The only thing that can calm me and help my mood is knowing that God is in Control. That’s Control with a capital C. Yes, He knows about everything that is going on and He has a plan. I don’t know what the plan is; He is God and I am not. So, my job at this time is to trust Him (and sigh if I must, He understands) and keep moving. I may not be moving very fast and I may not be going to a lot of places, but I’m moving. I’m working on improving me physically by trying to walk more and drink more water and eat better. I’m also trying to read my Bible regularly, reading Bible commentaries and trying to get into a habit of scheduled prayer time. I’m working to expand my mind and my heart as well as my physical self. This is something we all have to do to keep our spirits up. The “feeling stuck” mood has to go if we are to be any use to anyone.

This is Me…

I had introduced Joe, but I think it’s time to introduce me.

I’m old now, a real card carrying member of the senior set. This seems strange to me… what happened to my life while I was living it? I’ve certainly been busy, too busy to notice what was going on with me. I’ve really been through a lot during my life and I hope some of that will come through these pages to help others.

I’m a daughter of an alcoholic. That alone sets your life up for struggles in the future. I was born late in my parents life, so by the time I graduated from High School my dad already had two heart attacks. Shortly after I graduated my mom started having strokes and seizures. Helping to take care of them set me up for the caregiving role. Yup, I started early. After dad had his first heart attack my brother had a bad car accident and his whole family (wife and two small children) came to live with us. My mom and sister-in-law got jobs in the evening at the same hospital, same shift, different jobs. So after school I had to come home, help my dad and brother and look after my small niece and nephew. Dinner (for all), baths and bed for the kiddies. Fetching and carrying for the men. After a year or two everyone got better, my brother and family moved out.

Once I was married I was still caregiving. Our first son was born a year and a half after we married and I took to being a mother and a wife naturally. I was already a proven caregiver!

My moms health slowly deteriorated over the years and my dad would call me to help with her, for baths and such. By this time I was working a full time job with two elementary age children. When mom went into the hospital (which was a lot) she would get agitated when she was having seizures so the hospital would call and I would go and sit with mom and calm her down. She died a few years after that and dad died three years later. I was in my early thirties.

Life kept rolling along until 1999 when Joe was diagnosed with his brain tumor. I’ve already told you what that was like (Introducing Joe), but the 16 years really took a toll on my life. Recovery has been hard.

Don’t think that stress and worry won’t tell on you later in life, cause it will. I tried to take care of myself spiritually and mentally while taking care of Joe, but let the physical go. To tell the truth, I was too tired to even think about doing more than brushing my teeth and falling into bed. Trying to get the minimum amount of rest and keeping my sanity and serenity took all I had. This last 5 (almost 6) years, I’ve spent trying to get my physical self better. It’s been hard and I have a long way to go.

If you are in the middle of your caregiving, try to take care of yourself. I can see now that I was too busy taking care of others to even think about me. It seemed selfish if I thought about it at the time, but I can see now, with 20/20 hindsight, that I should have been a bit more selfish. I don’t regret a thing that I’ve done except not doing more for me. That’s a regret that will stay with me for a while.

Taking Care of You

Caregivers have a tendency of not taking care of themselves. I know this from my own experience. When Joe finally passed, I think I slept for a week; I was so totally exhausted. What I didn’t realize is just how exhausted I was.

The holiday season is coming fast and can be so stressful for caregivers. This is the time that I feel that we need to be intentional in what we are going to do and not do. Will you decorate the house “to the nines” (as my mother used to say) or will you not decorate at all? I used to feel guilty if I didn’t do all the “holiday” things that I wanted to but just didn’t have the energy. I know this is useless now, the guilt and emotional pain of not doing a “tradition” that you’ve always done, but can’t face this year because of your exhaustion.

This year, only do what you can and forget the rest, without guilt. Maybe it will be a small tree instead of that large tree that you “always” go hunt for and put up. Make small batches of cookies instead of the hundreds of dozens you usually bake. It is up to you to decide what you are NOT going to do and what you want to do.

If someone asks what you want for Christmas, instead of saying “nothing” (like I always did) tell them (or better yet make a list!) of things that will be helpful for you. Here is a small list to get you started:

  • Volunteer time to be with your “person” so you can have some time for yourself.
  • Gift cards for a salon or spa.
  • Jobs around the house to be done (mowing, maintenance, housekeeping)
  • Meals to be brought in, or someone to do grocery shopping for you.

It’s up to you. No one will step in and do for you unless you let them know what you need. So, decide what you will and won’t do and then ask others if they can help with the things you just don’t have the time and energy for.

You need to take care of yourself or you won’t be around to be a caregiver.