caring for the caregiver

health quote - gandhiOne of the things that I struggle with, indeed I struggle daily, is keeping up with my own health while caring for my family.  Mostly caring for David, because much as it pains me, the other kids pretty much have things covered unless they need something. No longer am I the dad who gets things done.  Now, I am the dad that takes care of David.

There it is in its simplest form.

I am the Dad who takes care of David.

I am also the Dad who readily admits when he is struggling with a health issue.  See, I have Systemic Lupus among other things.  I have to watch out for my health, if I don’t I won’t be here to look out for and take care of David.  So then the question becomes, what happens after David leaves home?  Can I get my health back?

Some days, I don’t know if I am coming or going.  I don’t know how to handle what is happening with my health. So I muddle through.  Over the last 16 years, I have often felt like I lost something of my children’s lives.  In that, I never got to take them fishing, in fact, I am often wiped out by the smallest events of the day.  Heading to the city really saps my energy, and I feel like a shithead because I resent all of those meetings that I attend because of David.  I hate feeling like that, because for the most part, it isn’t his fault.

So I am trying to figure it out as I go along.  How do I juggle the two?  How do I juggle caring for David and caring for me?  And then I feel bad for even wondering these things, because ultimately, I know the answer.  He is my son, and his needs supersede mine.  As a dad, that is the way I am wired.  The needs of each of my children come before mine.

I get frustrated because we have to cover the same ground over and over again with him.  I think that is what is most draining.  To repeat the same things every day expecting a different result. Praying for a different result.  Because, I do indeed pray.

I pray that the turmoil David lives with mentally that affects his behavior, eases.  I pray that the brothers and sisters will see through the turmoil and understand that as difficult as his behaviors are for the family, he is still a part of our family.  I pray that each of the people I have met through this adventure of caring for David feel a small bit of relief in their day. Because truly, we all deserve just a brief respite from the turmoil that comes from caring for a mentally ill person, whether that person is 2 or 40.

For each of us that cares for a person with mental illness or chronic behavioral problems, I pray.  We all deserve it.  Hugs. Peace and well, you know.  You are important in the life of another and ultimately isn’t that its own reward?  And you know what?  If prayer isn’t for you, I sure do have some positive vibes I can send your way.  Nothing wrong with that.

I can’t speak to what other caregivers are going through, I can only speak to my experiences, however, I imagine that for them it is much the same.  Please take care of yourselves.

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