What Part of Yourself Have You Given Up as a Carer?
I’m into week 2 of a carer’s workshop. It’s not the usual where you are reminded to do self care and get regular rest, but it’s about managing emotions for everyone involved.
Today our awesome and hilarious facilitator, asked us what have we given up since caring for our loved one. Perfect person for such a heavy topic. It’s not something you spend your days dwelling over as us carers often haven’t got time. We also are in the habit of “stuffing down” our feelings as they are often very much the lowest priority, when you have an unwell person to look after.
For me personally it’s travel. I have always been full of wanderlust. DS suffers with social anxiety (although he’s getting tired of that he tells me — hallelujah :) ) He mainly wants to be in the home. I’ve written blog posts about how it is to travel with a special needs kid. It’s generally a lot easier to just stay home. The group discussed what part of themselves got stuffed in a closet, during their chosen (or sometimes unchosen) role as carer.
The list included study, work, hobbies, connection to friends/social life and many others.
Sue the facilitator asked us “so if you want to continue learning and your current situation says you have no chance in Hades of doing this, how can you reconcile that? We went through all the ways we could come to terms with the fact that we had lost key parts of our identity.
Ultimately it is all about acceptance. Many different cultures in the room found different ways to find that acceptance, ways to drop the resentment and hurt. So often the focus is all about the unwell person, we figured. It was great to find acceptance in group discussion. Professionals often don’t even consider our viewpoint even though we are the ones who spend a vast majority of time with our loved one.
If you are feeling like it’s taboo to discuss your feelings as a carer I highly recommend this course. It’s run by Mind Recovery College which operates throughout Victoria. Mind Australia have been integral to our wellness in so many ways. If you need support with a loved one with mental health issues, these guys are amazing.