19th July 2018Category: Working Carers
I like to feel like I have control. That I can plan my week or juggle my schedule so I manage all the different things happening in my life. But being a working carer can create moments and pockets of no control. They may only happen for an hour, a day or it slowly creeps in over time but these moments have an effect on our mind-set and how we see the world.
There is a quiet voice in the mind of a carer that speaks so silently but changes our actions. It says that you can cope with doing everything and you can manage it all. It sounds strong but in fact it can be cruel at times. The voice says you have to be able to adapt quickly to a situation or say yes to another job on your already packed to-do list. The voice reminds you of all the things you need to do for the person you care for and if you don’t do it, the voice will make you feel guilty. The voice in the mind for some of us, takes away some of our control. This is because it has changed how we see our situation.
For example, you have said that you will clean the kitchen for the person you care for. In your mind you have calculated it will take roughly 90 minutes. You start to clean the kitchen, put things in the dishwasher, plates back into the cupboard. But you spot some food in the fridge that is about to go over. The small voice says, I think I will make a meal to use up this food and not let it go to waste. I don’t want their money to go to waste and I’d feel bad. Whilst it is in the oven, you spot a pile of magazines in the hall way and you start to sort through them all and put them in your car to recycle. 2 hours later, you look at the kitchen and it looks like you haven’t started tidying and you start to clean again. You wouldn’t think this is a typical ‘no control’ moment but subconsciously it takes away control from your time and plans without even realising it. You feel like you didn’t accomplish what you set out to do, even though you ended up sorting out lots of things in the house (but it took an extra couple of hours) and you are now late for the dentist and in a rush. It makes you feel low, frustrated and creates an inner struggle in your mind. It could make you feel like you are not keeping on top of things and time is battling against you.
With work, caring and family life, there are lots of elements you have more control over but there are times when you can’t plan. You can’t plan for someone to have an accident or to be ill.
Having surgery is a great example of the feeling of no control. You know you have to have it (remember your health is a priority in your life). You try and sort as much as you can before it (which creates extra stress on top of the stress you already have). It is an unknown experience so you can’t control the process, you feel like it is out of your hands and you have to just go with it. Then they tell you how long your recovery could be (everyone’s bodies recover differently so it is not an exact science). You plan what you think you can do whilst ‘recovering’, but then that imaginary deadline for the recovery has passed and you still don’t feel right. It then makes you feel rubbish. It’s good old frustrating frustration. Your brain is back to ‘normal’ but your body isn’t. You want to power walk to a meeting but you feel like a tortoise. You normally help the person you care for bathe but leaning over cause's pain. Your logical mind knows that the body needs time to heal, and rest is the best thing for it. Our emotional mind says ‘I have to get X, Y and Z’, ‘I don’t have time to be ill’ or you just push yourself and it takes you 2 steps back. You feel like you have no control and have to wait.
Remember when you feel like there are times when you have no control, there are others who feel exactly like you. Being a working carer can feel isolating, as thought other people don’t understand it but there are plenty of people who do understand. Fellow working carers, the staff at West Cumbria Carers and friends and family.
We never have 100% control in our lives, I think we all wish we did but that is not how the universe works. Take a step back and listen to your body, try to calm the mind and say, ‘what is in my power that I can do, to make this situation better or move it forward’.
If you feel like you need to talk and get support, please call our office and arrange for a carers assessment and find out what support is available. If you are already a carer with West Cumbria Carers, you can ask for a reassessment if your needs have changed or a review.