What to do when caring for someone becomes too much? Tips from a professional and spousal caregiver.
When caring for someone becomes too much…
I decided to write about the hidden emotions that many of us caregiving men go through without letting the tension out because when caring for someone becomes too much only then do we reach for help.
Luckily for me, my optimism protects me, but not all male caregivers are the same. Most men don’t deal well with emotions.
They bottle them up never expressing what they feel until it’s so overwhelming they lose control.
Caring for someone you love has its benefits. You have peace of mind that your partner is in good hands. However, providing long-term care can take its toll.
There are plenty of emotional burdens, as your spouse’s caregiver, you feel drained, helpless, and sometimes you feel resentment and guilt.
When caring for someone becomes too much, you want to run away. But you can’t.
You just want a break. But even though you well deserve it, taking time off would make you feel guilty, and worried that whoever replaces you, is not going to deliver your standards of care.
When caring for someone becomes too much, it makes you feel empathetic, guilty, resentful, sad, happy, angry, impatient, lonely, and unheard.
No one notices your struggles because you put on a brave face. You are a man. We don’t quit, we don’t surrender!
But you can only take so much. Every person breaks. However, though, we are not machines.
So, is it possible to care too much? I certainly do!
Understanding how to help without it becoming a source of stress is extremely difficult. The job is challenging enough.
Having to balance being a caregiver and a spouse seems impossible, but it’s totally doable. This post explains to you how…
A caregiver who never stops…
I am a professional caregiver who takes care of less fortunate, disabled young people. When I come home from work, I become a spousal caregiver, supporting my chronically ill wife. For me, this job never ends. I’m a 24/7 caregiver.
M suffers primarily from endometriosis, but she also developed fibromyalgia. Both chronic illnesses give her a lot of worries, making her anxious and depressed at times. It’s called multimorbidity – having at least two, or more long-term conditions.
The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person.
If you’re like many spousal caregivers, you have a hard time asking for help, but such an attitude can only lead you to feel isolated. I found many unexpected challenges and I can easily notice when caregiving becomes too much. It’s difficult to balance caregiving stress.
For my wife, dealing with daily pain is a full-time job. But for every woman suffering from endometriosis, there is an army of men who support them.
This isn’t an exception for me. I give her mental, emotional, and sometimes physical health. It can be really draining, especially when no one believes you.
It’s in your DNA!
To care is in your DNA. Everyone has a need to feel loved and cared for, at the same time give love and care for others.
You, me, and other spousal caregivers have a unique DNA code, a pattern of genomes that reflects our individuality and character. It even reflects the values of a group.
It’s programmed into our DNA, but as good as it feels to care for someone else, for caregivers it often becomes a source of stress.
Not only it makes you physically exhausted, but it also leaves you feeling mentally and emotionally drained.
So, if it’s in your DNA, is it possible to care too much, and when caring for someone becomes too much anyway? How do you measure care?
Early signs of caring too much.
When you look into a dictionary, the definition of care is a burdened state of mind, worry, and concern.
But what about the feeling of love for someone, to look after someone, to provide for them, and to attend to their needs.
Looking at the negative state of mind – caring people feel that if they don’t worry or obsess over things means that they don’t care enough.
This need for worry, obsessing, and concern, is an emotional habit. It means that you have sympathy towards someone and their difficult situations.
However, the downside of these emotions often ends up causing disharmony, destructive stress, destructive enough it leads to depression.
You have to be careful not to fall into emotional habits that can get you into caregiver burnout, or a loop of anxiety and depression. Over-caring is common, it’s a habit causing worry, stress, and anxiety.
When caring for someone becomes too much, it brings negative emotions that drain your energy, which you need to care for your spouse in the first place, and the loop continues…
These negative emotions are the early signs of caring too much.
Apart from empathy for your partner which seems like a good thing, it can also be a strong emotion draining you of energy. When that happens, frustration, anger, resentment follow. These are a few of the main negative emotions that follow early signs of the fact that you care too much.
As a spousal caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one so much, that you don’t even realize how your own health and well-being are suffering. In order to prevent that, you need to know the signs of caregiver stress:
- Feeling overwhelmed.
- Feeling constantly worried.
- Feeling tired, fatigued.
- Feeling sad and low.
- Getting too much sleep.
- Getting not enough sleep.
- Gaining or losing weight.
- Becoming easily irritated.
- Becoming easily angry.
- Losing interest in hobbies.
When you’re constantly under too much stress, it can harm your health.
As a caregiver, you’re more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety or/and depression. You may suffer from insomnia and your physical activity, and well-balanced diet falls apart.
That may increase your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Resentment that you may feel could be considered a warning sign when caring for someone becomes too much, and you need help. You may even feel guilty because you may often think that you should be able to do it all.
Try not to feel guilty if you experience anger, impatience, disgust, or any of the other negativity, as it is a part of the spousal caregiving journey.
What to do when caring for someone becomes too much?
First and foremost, don’t expect yourself to maintain a perfectly calm and patient attitude all the time. This would be unrealistic. No matter what field you’re in, even health care, human beings are not perfect.
If you experience impatience, frustration, anger, resentment, forgive yourself!
You must give yourself a credit for the thousands of times you have been patient, and for the hours of loving care, you keep giving to your chronically ill partner.
You can seek help. It could be either from your family or friends. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help! Good ideas for this also are:
- Support groups.
- Meditation groups.
- Stress relief classes.
- Yoga classes.
You know the saying – you can’t draw from an empty well. Negative emotions follow exhaustion. Caregiving takes your strength mentally and also has negative effects on your physical health when disrupts your sleep or eating.
If you cannot find family members to help with caregiving duties for more than a day, consider hiring a professional caregiver. For a small fee, you can have peace of mind and regain your energy.
Physical and mental activity is the best distractions for your brain to dissolve worry and stress. On days when caregiving becomes too much, take a walk through the building where you work or go outside for a walk.
Taking time off from caregiving will benefit both of you. You need to practice self-care, even if it means 15 minutes of doing something you love doing. Schedule time just for yourself. Do it as often as possible, it will serve you well…
I hope you find this post helpful. Take care for now!
Hi, I’m Lucjan! The reason why I decided to create this blog was my beautiful wife, who experienced a lot of pain in life, but also the lack of information about endometriosis and fibromyalgia for men…