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Archive for June, 2010

It is so hard – emotionally, financially and physically – to be a caregiver for
anyone who has an illness, regardless of the reason. We sacrifice so much. The
whole family is inconvenienced, the financial strain is great and effects
everyone. We take them to appointments, rearrange our lives and make their care
the center of our decisions. A simple thing like a family outing requires
considering the ill person’s needs as the first thought.  With Amy, we had to think about whether she would be overwhelmed by the event and freak out.  Or, would she be cranky and uncooperative and ruin the whole experience for us?

The second was usually “do we have any extra money” because so much of their care is out of pocket
and not covered by insurance. Amy’s therapist, at $95 a visit, wasn’t covered.  When you consider that she was going to those visits weekly, that adds up to $400 a month.  No wonder I drive a 15 year old car!
But, I think it’s even harder to be a caregiver for someone with mental illness because they are able-bodied.   When they physically can accomplish things, it’s hard to remember that the
illness is what makes them unwilling or unable to do things. They’re not being
lazy, the illness is making them unmotivated. Think about what a
monumental task it is for a depressed person  just to get out of bed in the
morning and continue for one more day in the hope that things will get better.

As the caregiver – it sucks!!! We have to put ourselves and our lives, hopes,
and dreams on hold but we do it because we love them. It’s a very long, slow
recovery process from mental illness and we all wish we had a magic wand that we
could wave to make it all go away. Amy has been stable for a year now and I
still have regrets about the opportunities I missed because she was sick.
However, she is alive, the suicide attempts were not successful and that makes
it all worthwhile.

Try to get some relief for yourself and get out and do something you enjoy. We
all have to find a way to get a break from them just so we can stay strong and
stay the course. We can’t help them if we’re not healthy. With my daughter, I
would do gardening. We were afraid to leave her with a family member so we
couldn’t leave the house.  We just couldn’t risk her making a suicide attempt when someone else was caring for her.  So,  I got out and worked in the yard. Since she was
depressed, she wasn’t interested in joining me in the project and she left me alone.  I
could enjoy a few blissful hours of quiet and create something beautiful that I
could look at and enjoy later.

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