Carolyn Hax: Caretaker struggles with a lack of support from friends

Spread the love

Adapted from an online discussion.

Hey Carolyn: Our household has had a slew of bad news — dead pets, prolonged health issues and job loss. As the caretaker for almost everyone around me I feel like while I am struggling it’s not reciprocated. I get it, I feel like Eeyore all the time, which is not fun to talk to when I’m usually the bubbly one, but that’s also a rough time to realize you don’t really have the support you thought you would. I don’t know what to ask for, I just know I am down and having trouble getting back up. I’m working with a therapist, so doing my own work, but I can’t shake the extra sadness that comes from friendships that don’t feel reciprocal. Help!?!?

Can I Get a Break?: Please, caretaker, seek social care. From outside your circle if needed — eventually you might want to work on retraining your people to recognize you as someone who also needs attention vs. always providing it, but that’s emotionally uphill work. Right now you want to go with an assist from gravity, because that’s probably all you have the energy for.

So: What restorative thing can you give yourself, or light companionship can you seek. (Can I summon a Short Afternoon Walk again?) Don’t limit yourself except to think outside that infernal household box so many of us have come to resent. Remind yourself of simple things you’re good at or feel better for, and see whether any of them are available to you in a form that fits in, say, a 15- to 60-minute window. Call a hilarious friend, go somewhere with excellent service, meditate. If you have more time, great — sign up for something fun.

I apologize for advising a task as a solution to abject fatigue, but relief is at the ready, to fill as big (or small) a break from your rut as you feel able to make.

Re: Break: I second this. I’m stuck working from home full time while caring for a psychotic adult child who is not responding well to medication changes. When I’m physically exhausted or drained from the hurtful psychotic behavior, I place my ear against one of my cats and listen to them purr. It’s very therapeutic. Yes, I know I’m weird.

Stuck: I know this suggestion might sting for someone who has suffered pet loss, but I’m including it because it is why many of us have pets, even adopting anew while still grieving. Plus there isn’t one iota, even one molecule of weird in your purr strategy. And I am not saying this just because I am trying to normalize the deep-fur-inhalation therapy I do with my dogs.

  • Please do the little bit of extra work of figuring out what you can ask for (maybe with your therapist’s help) and ask ask ask for it! If I was your friend, I’d love to help.
  • Saw a tweet that said, “ok, I’m over self-care everyone else can take care of me now” and hooboy is that a mood I can relate to. Just wanted to share.
  • I’ve found taking an aimless drive, singing (badly) along with the radio helps change the scenery even faster than that walk, and let’s pretend it’s carbon neutral if I am not home burning lights and heat. Plus I can do it in the endless rain of the Northwest.

Source link