There is a good ole saying that runs true, especially in the caregiving world. You can’t pour from an empty cup. I have tried many times and sometimes, well most of the time it doesn’t work.
I hit that realization a few days ago. I was in bed, and all I did was turn over and it happened. Something in my back decided to pop and now, my empty cup is now bone dry. I was doing well. I wasn’t having extreme pain, I wasn’t having any anxiety or depression issues, mom has been doing well, dad and I are ok. I thought my cup was full, or at least half way full. Enough where I could do what I needed to without issue. Now, I realize I have probably been running on fumes. And those fumes ran out.
My husband is now my main concern. We finally have a doctor who is going to help him get him healthy. I am now needing to focus on him. Getting him healthy and me in the process. I am blessed to say, he is fixable. Me… well, maybe but that is another story. But physical part of the said cup isn’t even close to half of what the caregiver needs. We need the mental and emotional parts of the cup filled to the top. We deal with so much that pulls us in different directions. For instance, my husband and my mom both need me to keep up with all the doctor appointments, medicine, and relaying any thing pertaining to medical organized and all things organized. Thank goodness for hospice to help with mom’s meds because she calls them in for me and I just pick them up or tell dad they need to be picked up. Then you also add in the anxiety. The thought of me having to do all things. Cooking, cleaning, making the money, and somehow make school (which I hope to start in Jan.) fall all into place. Add in a dash of teenager attitude, waiting for test results, and lack of funds, you now have a glimpse of what is in my head. Now, take said cup and break it. You have all these issues all over and you realize you need a break. You need to take care of you.
Filling the cup involves several things. First, you have to gather pieces of the cups and glue it back together. This is what I would call the physical stuff. You can’t function appropriately if you are in physical pain. Long term physical pain will lead into emotional issues. I know.. depression and anxiety hit me the hardest when I am in the most pain. Then once the cup is back together and strong, you can fill the cup up with things to help you mentally and emotionally. Start with faith. It doesn’t matter what faith you are, you need to have strong conviction of your faith. Personally, I am a Christian, but, I do not go to church. I believe in God and all things he is and does. Faith has a lot to do with your emotional well being. That is why I talk to the hospice chaplain because I can get his view on things and maybe see things in a more Godly way. Then, what is left is to deal with any leftover anxiety and depression. This is where you may need to start going to a psychologist or someone that you can talk to help you get through the problems. But, the very last thing that I have found helps with physical and emotional parts of the cup… food. Your food choices make a huge difference on how you feel both mentally and physically. What you put into your body will play a major roll in these two things. I have found that gluten makes my pain worse. It makes my joints swell, and in turn, I can barely move. Sodas make me have huge mood swings. I become a raging monster, the yelling mom, and no one can do anything right. I have noticed this and as much as I love Dr. Pepper, I cannot drink it. Sprite is ok, but sodas in general make me hurt. Also, the more junk you put in your body, the less you will have the ability to do things. The weigh gets pack on, the aches and pains get worse, and then most of the time, you realize it’s to late. Heart attack, stroke, and whatever else you can think of. There have been studies that show that caregivers, especially the ones that do not have any help will often have a stress induced medical episode and generally become pretty sick themselves. All it is, is their body making them stop so they can recover.
I pray that I am able to fix me so that I can pour from a cup that doesn’t run empty. I can’t afford to run on empty like I have been. No more fumes, no more half full. I will be running on full from now on.