What About Me?

musical notes and written chorus to song

I love when I hear this song on the radio. Why? It’s a reminder to me that I need to look after myself and check on both my physical and mental health. This is something I have learned the hard way. Being diagnosed with depression has helped me to understand that being strong is more about knowing when to ask for help and actually taking control of your life.

As caregivers we are all guilty of giving our all to those we care for. However, when we add in the everyday stresses of caring for other family members, employment and financial issues it can lead to feelings of inadequacy or not being enough. Although it is quite normal to have negative thoughts and or feelings from time to time. It is not normal when these types of feelings become super intense and leave you with no energy, in tears or ripping the strips off a loved one. If feelings like these are persisting, it’s time to get help.

Women with head bowed down in defeat

Did you know that there is a term for this – depression, and in particular Caregiver Depression. It affects twice as any caregivers than the general population who are affected by depression. Scary hey?

How do I know if I have Caregiver Depression?

Like all ailments, caregiver depression affects people differently. Some of the symptoms you may experience include: –

  • Always feeling tired
  • Change in sleep patterns – either too much sleep or not enough
  • Becoming angry or irritated easily – snapping at the kids/partner for no apparent reason
  • Feeling like you’re never enough or not good enough
  • Eating habits have changed
  • No one else can live up to your expectations
  • Ongoing physical systems that don’t go away like aches and pains, headache, or stomach and bowel complaints
  • Thoughts of death (for yourself, your partner or those you care for), suicide or attempting suicide

Or perhaps you’re experiencing other symptoms like: –

  • An increase in drug or alcohol consumption
  • Spending way too much time (excessive) on the internet
  • Neglecting your appearance or physical well being – way too many pyjama days
  • Thinking everyone, especially you would be better off if you ran away

I am NOT a doctor; however, I have either felt the above symptoms or have friends (also caregivers) who have experience many of these symptoms. The most important thing to do if you are experiencing any of the above is speak to an EXPERT. Whether this is your GP (doctor) – a great place to start. Getting help is the best way you can get back to being who you really are.

Start Looking After Yourself!

Woman writing in Journal

Once you have sought medical assistance, then you can start looking after yourself in other ways. Now I know that as a carer it is really hard to catch a break, however, even if having a break is hiding in the laundry and looking out the window for a few moments, do it! Take the time to write down at least one thing each day that you are grateful for. Yes, sometimes it’s tricky to think of something. But, it isn’t rocket science. Be grateful for the simple things like …..

  • That first cuppa in the morning
  • That it’s a sunny day
  • That you have a roof over your head

…. The list goes on. Once you start and get into the routine of being grateful these thoughts and ideas will grow.

Perhaps having a friend join you in a regular walk – exercise is great to get those natural happy chemicals running through your brain. Ask for help from family, friends and or a respite service in your area to help with the caring of your loved one while you are looking after yourself.

Ultimately, no one wants to feel like they are not in control. While we may not have control of some of our circumstances when we are carers. We can take control of what we do when feelings of depression persist.

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