I Made It! 10-Years As A Caregiver
Well my angel turned 11 years old on November 18 and I want to celebrate being a caregiver for 10 years. That’s such a huge milestone. I’ve been a caregiver for 87,600 hours and we’ve both made it thus far with a smile on our face.
The reason for which I make a distinction between her age and my years as a caregiver is because we didn’t know that anything was ‘wrong’ until her 12-month check-up. That’s when our world turned upside down and so started the journey of being a caregiver and becoming a mother of a child with special needs.
The early days are a blur and there are many parenting behaviours for which I am embarrassed. I felt overwhelmed and stressed to the max. Can you believe that going to my full-time job was an escape? That the fast-pace environment of a communications shop did not bother me at all? I loved that I could go to the bathroom and eat my lunch in peace - and that for those 8 hours daily, the fight or flight response was paused.
But I was always waiting for the next thing to happen - Summer loosing half of the hair on her head to alopecia, the daycare calling to say that they were unsure whether they could manage her, her being discharged at 4 yr old from therapy due to the long waiting list.
These small items all add up to chronic stress. Only when I started to learn what happens to the body when it's under chronic stress, did my physical symptoms start to make sense. Inexplicable rashes on my arm that had the dermatologist puzzled; an anxiety attack at work where I couldn’t breath and I had to be taken from the office on a stretcher to the local hospital - where doctors could not find one thing wrong with me.
But then I realized that I had a huge, scary problem on my hands because my life wasn’t going to change, the stress wasn’t going to get any better, so if I was physically and emotionally breaking down - how I was I suppose to handle my life?
In fact, when Summer was very young, I told myself that things would get better, yet every age brought new challenges, new behaviours, which then resulted in new frustrations for me.
Because I understand what it’s like to have a special needs child, and because I saw myself going down a road that would end in me crashing, I knew that I had to do something and since there aren’t any doctors specializing in supporting parent caregivers, I knew I was on my own to figure out how to best support myself mentally and physically so I could best support and care for my whole family.
Thus began my love affair with self-care. I knew enough that I had to start making changes in order to get different results. After years of working with energy coaches, personal development coaches, reading, etc, I've noticed a huge shift in the way that I was feeling and a huge improvement in my parenting abilities.
Looking back now, I’m so very proud of how far that I’ve come. I now feel ready for the next 10 years as a caregiver.