My Health is a Priority

I have posted several times on here and I read other people's posts/comments at least a couple of times a week. As a recent poster noted, her life is totally tied up with her parent, and that's been the same for me in the past 5 years as well.

I have a huge amount on my plate including working full time and commuting. I take care of 2 houses (my parent's and mine) and do lawn care, snow shoveling, cleaning, laundry and food shopping for both of us. My parent is 100% in her right mind and has been declining but isn't willing to change anything in her situation (that is, move).

I used to feel resentful especially towards my sibling who doesn't help but I've come to terms with it. What helped me is seeing my parent declining more and more in the past year. It's now apparent to me that she doesn't have many more years to live and I want to make her last years as easy and pleasant as possible. In other words, my caregiving time is almost up, so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This has caused a big change in my frame of mind in the past year. Before that, I was operating on burnout most of the time.

It might sound trite, but one of the ways that I try to cope with the demands of my job and caregiving is that I am very strict about prioritizing my own health. I make sure that I eat right, get enough sleep, exercise as much as I can (3-5 times a week), and maintain my sanity and serenity (spiritual practices). I do all of these things even if I have to cut out other things like social life. Prioritizing my own health has helped my mood, my weight, and my energy level. I feel good about myself and that has made me happier. All in all, a foundation of good health has enabled me to handle the stresses on me.

The bottom line is that I have had to say NO to a lot of other people. The priorities are my parent, my job, and me. That's the way it has to be. Some of my so-called friends resented that I couldn't dash about with them and waste my precious free time doing things THEY wanted to do (which I didn't want to do) like watching stupid movies or going shopping or eating out.

So they're annoyed, so what!! I am a lot happier now that I've gotten rid of all of the extraneous demands on my time. Whatever little free time I have is for ME. I enjoy reading, walking, cooking healthy foods, going to the health club. It's great to feel healthy.

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You're So Right
by: Anonymous

I too, have been evolving since I began care taking my mom. Even though it was my decision to move back home and take care of her, I was resentful and angry for the first six months.

Then one day, I was looking at myself in the mirror and I saw this deep furrowed groove in my forehead and when I made an angry face it just deepened. I was shocked to see how my anger was starting to get etched on my face as a permanent fixture.

I vowed then and there, to lose the anger and to start smiling. It was an amazing difference.

Even those times when my mom would usually drive me over the edge in ten seconds or less, I forced a smile on my face, and the absurdity of me doing that, actually made me genuinely laugh, because it was so stupid to be smiling through it all.

As my mom has become more dependent on me, I find myself able to step up to the plate more. It seems when I first got here, she just sort-of needed me, but as time goes on, and the responsibilities increase, I find that being even more useful to her gives credence to my time spent with her.

I agree with your priorities. I think as caregivers, it's innate to give to others first, so it's unnatural to give to ourselves. It seems selfish. It's hard to loose those initial feelings of guilt. But I've always heard it, and I now know it to be true, that unless we take care of our own needs first, we will have resentment in our care taking duties.

I started giving to myself by leaving the house, early in the morning, before mom even gets up, and going for a long walk through a nearby park. It's just about the only time I'm ever alone with myself and my thoughts. And now it's just part of the routine and I crave it every morning.

The first step out the door into the cool morning air, I take a deep breath and just smile. I've discovered the community college gym and I'm going to start working out. I've made Sunday the day I get together with a life-long friend. All the trivia and shallow time-fillers have fallen by the wayside and only quality time now exists in my life.

I always try to fill mom's request, in some way, that works for both of us. Now that I've brought myself into this equation, and it's not just all about mom, I feel seen, I feel heard, and I feel like I'm starting to build a new life here. Nobody is going to give us, what we have to give to ourselves.

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