I spent time recently sick with strep throat. An experience, I hope to never repeat again in my lifetime. 🙂
While I laid in bed miserable and sweating, I realized a few things about myself. One, I make a terrible patient. I am much better caring for others than I am at being the one in need. Two, I realized how easy it is to sink into a depression while sick.
Clearly, I was not terminal. I knew I was going to survive. I knew I just had to wait it out and eventually I would be back enjoying my life as I usually do. And yet, it took about 3 days for me to start burying myself under the covers rehashing all of the things I had decided were going wrong in my life.
Fast forward 5 days of tea and meds and I was fine. Happy, and energetic and back to my optimistic self! And that’s when I thought about those who are actually terminal. Those that we love that lay in bed day in, and day out, in pain and knowing that no amount of tea will cure them. I began to imagine what the internal dialogue must be for them and it made me realize how incredibly toxic the mind can make us without intervention.
As a Caregiver, it is not just your job to take care of the body of your loved one. You must care for the mind as well. You can’t change their diagnosis. What you can do is bring joy into their daily life. Give them something to look forward to in the morning. Stop just talking about their health with them. Make them laugh. Play their favorite music in the house. They may be on a restricted diet, but add in some of their favorite foods. Really. What is the harm? Put beautiful flowers and plants in their room. If they are able, get them out of the house and in nature. Play relaxation cd’s while they rest. Try guided meditation.
Realize that the mind can make us feel even worse than we actually are. Focus not just on the quantity of what life is left but the QUALITY of what life is left. This is truly what it means to be a Caregiver….