Post in collaboration with Bupa
I’ve been a carer for over 14 years now. I know how hard it can be. I know the forces at play in our lives every day.
I know how hard it is to juggle all the responsibilities. I know how challenging it can be to face up to all the obligations. I know how tough it is to advocate, ask questions and challenge others for the sake of my child. I know how difficult it is to deal with misinformation, misunderstanding and judgement.
If you’re a carer too, you’ll know the score.
Most of the time, it seems external forces rule our lives. We have to be ready to deal with the needs of the person we care for. We have little control over changes in government policy and legislation, particularly when it comes to funding. We’re at the mercy of societal opinion and community expectation. Yet, as a carer, we have to somehow manage all these demands.
These external forces are powerful and, at times, overwhelming.
However, there are more powerful forces at work, taking a secret toll on carers, without them even realising it. There are internal factors in play, making the role of being a carer even more demanding, tough and unrelenting.
I wasn’t consciously aware of these factors before having my first phone call as part of the Bupa Caring for our Carers Health Mentoring Program. It wasn’t until the Health Mentor asked me about my energy demands, both visible (the external demands on my time, that everyone else can see) and invisible (the internal demands I place on myself, that no-one else sees), that the penny dropped.
I suddenly realised just how much pressure I live under every single day. Obviously, most of this pressure is from my responsibilities and obligations as a carer. However, it appears I apply significant energy demands on myself internally, as I deal with a raft of fears, thoughts and feelings.
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
- You feel guilty about time you spend away from your child or the person you care for
- You second-guess each decision you make, even if you’ve spent a long time researching and evaluating each option
- You continually worry you are not doing enough for the person you care for or for the rest of the family
- You feel you are letting everyone down, in all aspects of your life
- You’re disappointed you can’t get it all right, all the time
- You’re too tired to socialise when you have the opportunity, but you feel guilty for not wanting to
- You feel the need to explain your situation or apologise for it to everyone
- You are hypervigilant and find it difficult to relax, even when not in caring mode
- You find it difficult to trust others with appointments, arrangements and meetings
All these are signs of the internal energy demands of your caring situation. They are symptoms of the struggle most carers face in managing their own thoughts, feelings, expectations and emotions.
I’m very familiar with all these internal pressures as I live with them every day. It’s why I rarely sit down and rest. It’s why I constantly battle anxiety and depression. It’s why I find it impossible to delegate. It’s why I seem to never make the progress I want to make in my life.
Now I know how powerful these internal energy demands are, I’m consciously trying to put less pressure on myself. I’m getting better at recognising my own triggers (skipping breakfast, constantly doing things, not allowing myself a break) and I’m trying to do better.
It’s not going to be easy but I’m determined to change my ways so I can relieve some of the pressures of my caring role. I’m looking forward to my next Bupa Caring for our Carers call so I can share my progress.
So far, I’ve learned a lot from this program and I hope to make more progress in the months to come. While it’s still in the pilot stage, I’m hoping it eventually grows so even more carers can get much needed help in managing their own needs.
Bupa are currently piloting a Caring for Carer’s Telehealth Program, for carers of participants transitioning to, or already in, the NDIS. Keep an eye out for my next call out for new participants later this month on the Positive Special Needs Parenting facebook page.
Disclaimer: I’ve received monetary compensation for this post, however the views, opinions and personal experiences shared are completely my own. I hope they help you recognise your own internal energy demands so you can better manage the pressures of your own caring situation.