Caregiving can be a rewarding experience. We want to be there for our loved ones when they need us most, and knowing that we have provided the best care we can give puts our minds at ease. But there’s little doubt that it can also be draining and challenging to put it mildly.
Often we are so consumed with giving our loved ones the best we can offer that we forget to take care of ourselves. Unfortunately, this can lead to our own issues. Caregivers are twice as likely to suffer from depression as the general population.
We are often presented with challenging and even traumatic experiences in the giving of care. Without identifying the early signs, we’re in danger of burning out and falling into unhealthy mental states.
“The nature of caregiving means a necessary measure of self-sacrifice,” writes Margaret J Stanton, an author at BoomEssays and PhD thesis writers. “We are constantly vigilant to the needs of our care receiver and even when we are away from them, we’ll have their needs in at the back of our minds. We seldom give ourselves the time to reflect on ourselves and our own needs.”
This means we may end up not recognizing the early symptoms of depression. We put our fatigue or listlessness down to the exertion we put into our care responsibilities. We sometimes don’t even feel we have the time to take a good hard look at ourselves and consider our feelings.
Caregiving can be a 24-hour job. We have our phones constantly on standby for any emergencies and we are ready to drop anything in order to be there for our care receivers. This means that we can allow our other relationships to deteriorate.
Left unchecked, this constant willingness to sacrifice our downtime can lead to an almost obsessive compulsion to retreat to our caregiving responsibilities. We use it as an excuse to neglect the other social bonds that are necessary to mental well being. Without these bonds, we risk getting stuck into a caregiving bubble, no longer able to enjoy the wider world.
The issues we face in caregiving and its resulting self-neglect mean that we end up having a poor diet. Ironically, we spend a lot of our time ensuring that our care receivers get the best nutrition we can offer, yet we seldom find the time to eat proper meals ourselves.
Instead of eating a balanced diet, with the scheduled meal times we ensure our loved ones get, we have a tendency to eat on the fly. Unfortunately, this can have a detrimental effect on our mental well being that isn’t always noticeable at first. Eventually, it can have long term side effects such as sleeplessness and irritability which can affect our ability to give care.
“For many, caregiving can actually traumatic,” says David Rendell, a regular contributor to Academized and Essayroo. “ We don’t like to admit it to ourselves, as there comes a certain amount of guilt in recognizing it. But if we don’t take an honest view of how traumatic our experiences can be they can end up manifesting in other, more harmful ways.”
Many of those who suffer from depression, as a result, their caregiving responsibilities claim to feel as though they need to run away. This urge to escape is as a result of the constant barrage of stress that can result from caregiving.
Often, caregivers are required to not only provide assistance for their loved ones but maintain financial independents as well. There is not always access to financial aid, which can result in financial hardship. Again, we can become overcome by feelings of guilt by worrying about this whilst giving our care.