Our Social Isolation Comes from Our Difficult Experiences


Our Social Isolation Comes from Our Difficult Experiences

I just saw this tweet on Twitter from an author of a caregiving book:

#Caregivers can become socially isolated, but this may be self-imposed. Do you not want to burden others or trust others to provide help?

I've written about our isolation and loneliness in the past. I'm often baffled at this idea that somehow it's our fault we're isolated. Of course it's hard to ask for help. You try requesting help to care for an individual who may chronically ill, medically fragile or have difficult behaviors. We're not presented with a line of volunteers jumping up and down, waving to us as they hope to be chosen to help.

Most important: We're socially isolated because of all that we experience during a caregiving day. Each day, we witness something difficult for our caree and for ourselves. Each day, we experience loss, whether it be because our caree is declining or because we had to say "no" to an opportunity because of our caregiving responsibilities.

Caregiving can be incredibly depressing for us. The sadness of a caregiving experience is often why we struggle to get the help we need. Perhaps it's us -- that we worry about exposing others to an experience that we find to be so devastating. But perhaps it's them -- who wants to help when it's so emotionally draining to help? They see what it does to us so no wonder they disappear.

A caregiving experience is also part art and part science. It's a nuanced equation we've figured out through diligent, tenacious trial and error. We do the kind of math during our caregiving day that requires binders and notebooks connected to digital and paper calendars. Sometimes, we can barely get the numbers to add up. Of course, it's hard to trust others when we know what happens when it all fails. It's left to us to figure out how to put it all back together again.

Caregiving is such a complex, complicated experience. We feel conflicted by truly difficult emotions that disconnect us from what others may experience in their lives. While we live with death, they live with vacations and parties. It's difficult to gather with others who live such different lives than ours. Conversely, it's tough to connect with others who live lives like ours because, well, we're all just stuck trying to figure out our complex equations.

I just wonder why others burden us with their misconceptions of our experience? And why don't they trust us to know we absolutely do our best each and every day?

I'd love to know your thoughts and experiences. Please share in our comments section, below.