Getting out of bed was challenging. I felt gloomy, dejected and disheartened. I re-scheduled my appointments and spent ½ the day in my pajamas mindlessly playing games on the computer. Then I did something I always encourage others to do, I reached out to my best friend. (By reached out I mean I actually answered the phone when she called instead of sending her to voicemail.)
I’ll be honest; at first I didn’t want to share my feelings with her. I wanted to act like everything was ok and get off the phone as quickly as possible. Nevertheless; I went against my feelings and tearfully shared what I was experiencing.
She listened, validated and encouraged me; then she said “now go take a shower it will make you feel better”. So I did and she was right. It wasn’t the shower that made me feel better (just cleaner and more human), it was sharing how I felt with someone who was willing to lovingly listen to my feelings of sadness and grief.
During both the caregiving and grief journey there will be bad days. Some of those days will be mildly challenging, others overwhelming. During that time just “be” in your feelings as unbearable as they might seem, then reach out to a friend and share with them what you are experiencing.
For me, I often don’t want to reach out because I don’t want to “burden” my friends with my sadness, however; they already know and want to help but don’t know how. Many are just glad that they can be there to listen. Whatever you do, don’t keep it in.
Keeping our feelings in, shoving them down and acting like everything is ok can be harmful both emotionally and physically causing us to get stuck in despair. Sharing them with others, whether a friend or a counselor can help to better cope with those days and move forward.
Remember – a bad day is just that, a bad day. It doesn’t have to turn into a bad week or month. Tomorrow is a new opportunity to create something positive and maybe even be the friend on the other end of the phone who is available to listen, validate and encourage someone else during their bad day.
Note: There is a difference between bad days and depression. If you are experiencing any of the following for extended periods of time please contact your doctor:
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
I really enjoy reading your posts! Work-life balance is so important. As a caregiver for my Dad, I’m finding it harder and harder to find that balance. But I do my best. Thank you so much for providing great stories that inspire me. Please check out my blog, as well: https://caregivercurio.wordpress.com/. I plan on revamping it over the next few weeks to address issues in being a young caregiver for military veterans. I think that’s really important. Thanks so much Sue!
Thank you for the comment and for choosing to care for your Dad!! Keep up the great work!