Taking Care of Yourself
Most of us are not prepared to be caregivers. We take on the role with love and good intentions, but we may experience feelings we never expected. Caregivers may encounter a range of feelings and concerns as they move along the path of caregiving.
There can be some surprisingly good feelings:
• Feeling closer and connected to your loved one
• Feeling good about what you are doing
• Feeling satisfied that you can help
• Confidence and feeling more competent than you thought you were
• Feeling some inspiration from the strength of your loved one Some feelings are intense. Caregivers may be surprised that they feel overwhelmed, guilty, sad, tearful, or even perplexed. But these feelings are normal.
• Stress. Stress can build up without our realizing it, when we worry a lot, become fatigued, or feel overwhelmed by responsibilities.
• Worry. It’s common to worry about a diagnosis, weigh treatment decisions, or even wonder if treatment is working.
• Frustration. You may have too much to do and no downtime, be unsure about what you’re doing, or feel unappreciated. It helps to talk
about these situations – even if talking about personal experience isn’t your style.
• Feeling overwhelmed. You may wonder if you’re living up to your own expectations of doing a good job.
• Feeling alone. Sometimes, the special connection you had with your loved one may seem lost.
• Sadness. Taking care of someone you love can cause deep sadness: for what is happening to your loved one and yourself, and for the changes in both of your lives.
• Grief. Grief happens whenever there is loss, including seemingly small losses, such as the loss of your normal routine. We also grieve when a loved one has changes that affect his or her functioning.
• Anger. You may feel anger about the unfairness of the cancer diagnosis, difficulties caused by treatment, or isolation you may feel as a caregiver
• Guilt. Guilt may come from feelings you didn’t anticipate, such as wanting this stressful experience to end or being the one who is not ill.
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