When I'm Taking Care of Myself, Please Don't Tell Me to Take Care of Myself


When I'm Taking Care of Myself, Please Don't Tell Me to Take Care of Myself

pen-1743189_640Sometimes, I think the wrong message about caregiving becomes our bad rap.

We hear over and over that, as family caregivers, we don't take care of ourselves.

Last year, during the lowest lows of my parents' declines, I wrote a Weekly Comfort called Swallow. Soon after publishing the post, a visitor commented that I needed to take care of myself. I replied, "Writing is what helps me which is why I took a few minutes to write this piece. That’s my self-care."

In essence, while I was taking care of myself (writing), someone told me to take care of myself.

Today, during our Conversations about Caregiving Twitter chat, someone popped into our chat of family caregivers taking time out of their day to receive support and camaraderie to announce that family caregivers don't take care of themselves.

So, while we were taking care of ourselves by unloading and sharing with others who understand, someone told us to take of ourselves.

I would love if we could move away from the message that family caregivers don't take care of themselves and instead move into a discussion about how little support our health care system and our communities offer us. We don't have enough help. That's the message.

With enough help, we have time for all that's required during our day as well as for ourselves.

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I can remember when my kids were young and my daughter was having lots of medical issues, I once expressed a desire to have the time to take a class at the university. My cousin looked at me and said, \"If you really want to do that, you'll make time\". I have the same reaction to this as to the \"take care of yourself\". He was telling me to do what I wanted to do. \r\nMy response, paraphrased from an old Doonesbury comic, was \"You're as busy as you want to be. I'm as busy as I have to be. I'm sorry, but there's a big difference.\" \r\nWithout support, to tell us to take care of ourselves is sort of like telling us to eat well when we only have rice and beans and they're eating a 5 course gourmet meal.


I suspect that many people who tell us to take care of ourselves, are the sort that can't imagine going without a bi-weekly mani-pedi, or taking off to Vegas on the spur of the moment. For them, spending a few minutes blogging, in meditation or prayer, or anything at all that doesn't involve \"retail therapy\" is just inconceivable. I have nothing against splurging and shopping, I sometimes enjoy it myself. But the reality is, those sorts of diversions are much more rare these days.


Any sentence that starts with a sanctimonious \"You should...\" or \"You need to...\" is a complete turn off.


I'm trying to just be supportive here; no one on this website deserves a lecture. Period.


I just love how the people who tell me I need to take care of myself, have never once offered to help me achieve that. IRL, I mean. Here, it's a different story. I get support and validation I can't get anywhere else. \r\n\r\nAnd thank God for that.