Are you comfortable with a label about yourself? I was a caregiver before I knew what the label meant. Last year, my husband began to need my help on a constant basis. The list of responsibilities got longer but I jumped in and did what had to be done. Most of the waking day was concentrated on giving care to my husband. I became so busy doing what needed to be done and didn’t even realize that others were calling me a “Caregiver”. In my mind, this label was for the professionals with specific training and experience like Nurses, CNA’s, and Therapists. Most caregivers are everyday people being heroes and providing heroic care for their loved ones.
It was difficult for me to understand why people thought I was doing something special. I was only doing what needed to be done. The ways that I help my husband, I do purely because I love him. Others had already selected me to wear the crown and sash for “Miss Caregiver”. This label took some getting used to. I wasn’t sure I even liked the label, but there I was wearing it, so I had better get comfortable with it. I’m saying all that to advise you to seek help when necessary. This label and crown will get heavy sometimes, so have a backup plan ready to keep you sane and healthy.
In the medical field, having a real diagnosis can help you and others know how to effectively fight it. Putting a label on it can be helpful in organizing the appropriate medical response. Likewise, once you’ve realized that you are actually a “caregiver”, it’s time to assemble your support team. You and your team will be fighting everything that conspires to bring you down and prevent you from being an awesome caregiver. It will be a hard fight. Assemble a great team around you for support and inspiration.
My support team includes people and techniques. I have an online support group and an in-person group. I have fabulous friends and family that recognize and support what I do. I also utilize meditation, music therapy, and adult coloring books to express my creativity. Since I am the author of this blog, I definitely want to include writing as therapy, too. You need to find the people and techniques that will work for you on your own team.
For me, it really helped to accept the Caregiving label and wear it well. I shine at this because my abilities keep my husband safe and happy. And, of course, when he’s happy, I’m happy. That’s what makes life bearable in otherwise difficult situations.
My label is not a “designer” label. There is no fancy name or logo on my symbolic caregiver label. Rather, the label is very simple and plain. I’m too busy being an awesome caregiver giving my husband the highest level of care and that is really what’s most important.
Here’s one last thing about labels and caregiving. Just like when you buy a food product and examine the Nutrition Label on the box, you should also examine what you are personally bringing to the job. What am I really made of? What are my best ingredients? Do I need more patience? Do I need more skills? Am I getting my required amount of sleep? How can I really improve myself to be the most awesome caregiver?
Labels will always be good and bad depending on how they are used. Embrace your caregiving label. It’s a good and honorable thing to wear proudly. Check your crown in the mirror and straighten that sash. You are awesome. You are doing a special service for someone very special to you. Caregiving is just another expression of your love for them.