Several months ago, I committed to putting out a three-part series on Caregiver Overwhelm. I thought I would share my words of wisdom on how to deal with caregiver overwhelm. This has been so difficult to write! You see, there is no recipe, no clear-cut plan, no tips that work for everyone. Caregiver overwhelm is part of the caregiver’s life.
It seems to me, from my personal experience and from the experiences of those I have worked with when we are overwhelmed all we can do is be overwhelmed. CRY! SCREAM! MEDITATE! WRITE! Whatever works for you.
Just please, please don’t let it fester. Allowing myself to feel that overwhelm has been helpful. It has allowed me to understand that I cannot do everything – certainly not alone. After the moments (sometimes long moments) of despair, I can reflect and gather my strength again.
When I was a teenager, a friend told me that I have a tendency to allow things get to the point where it is so bad that either I have to crawl out or rot there – luckily I am one of those people who crawl out. It can be like being in a dark, damp pit with no apparent way out. I have learned that life is not a pit. Sometimes there are very dark times. Often we have no control of the situation.
The feelings and emotions can be so strong that I am paralyzed. How many times have I felt like everything was under control and there I am, driving in my car, when all of a sudden, out of the blue, I get an uncontrollable desire to cry and the tears just flow and sadness really does overwhelm me.
The feelings and emotions can be so strong that I can’t stop talking. How many times have I been talking with a friend or relative when a casual comment sets me off and I find myself talking and talking, even when I see that they are not really interested or involved or have heard it all before, I go on and on and overwhelm myself (with patheticness???)?
I am a whole person and that means that life is sometimes overwhelming. It has its ups and downs. It is important for me to let those times happen. It is important for me to allow myself to feel overwhelmed, just as it is important for me to allow myself to feel joy. It’s all okay as long as I don’t allow the overwhelm to last so long that I can’t function, neither as a caregiver nor as an individual.