I’m the corona caregiver

As the oldest child, I’ve had to take over the jobs at home, as well as looking after my grandma. It’s starting to stress me out.

I’m not surprised, says our elder. Take it easy on yourself and don’t try to be perfect.

Dear EWC

So I have been on lockdown for seven weeks now. College has been moved online and it doesn’t look like we are going back to the physical building until September or after. My mother has been getting radiation treatment for her breast cancer battle. I have a brother (14) and a sister (8). So me being the oldest, I take over the jobs at home such as cooking and cleaning. It’s just to make sure that my mom isn’t under so much stress and I don’t really mind it. I also have been taking up the opportunity of the lockdown for all sorts of stuff, like learning how to play guitar, getting to diamond painting and writing. I also started eating healthier and I feel a little bit better in my skin now.

But since this week I haven’t been sleeping well, I keep waking up at random times at night. My energy level is also super low even though I do have a routine and regularly go outside for a walk whenever I can. I don’t remember being quite worried about the whole corona crisis, so I wouldn’t think that me being stressed is a reaction to the whole situation going on right now. I also was sent to my grandma’s house this week to monitor her, since she had been having suicidal thoughts and had my mother worried. I mean she is doing quite a lot better since I got here, but it still isn’t something you would want to have upon your shoulders as a 20-year-old. In short, I just would like to know where this stress is coming from, how I can validate it and how I can solve it.

Grandpa-Matt replies

It appears that you have taken on the role of caregiver, and are unprepared for this type of burden. There are a couple of issues that arise with a situation such as yours. When we take on new things there are often fears and concerns that come up. Am I doing enough? Am I taking on too many things at once? What If I fail? Am I over-burdened? How can I take care of them and myself, as well? Am I spread too thin? Am I good enough to take care of all of them and their needs? Am I draining my energy to the point that I can’t function well? Am I responsible for my grandma’s mental stability? And perhaps many others.

All of these questions, doubts and negative possibilities create stress. An article that I read about caregivers sets for the stress problem. Let me print part of it for you:

The Emotional Effects of Caregiving
When stress is short-lived, the results are rarely damaging. In fact, acute stress plays a key role in enhancing focus and motivation to help us power through challenges. However, when stress becomes a constant in life, it can become overwhelming. There are already strong emotions at play when someone you love is ailing. Not only are family caregivers genuinely concerned for their loved ones’ wellbeing, but they also assume a certain degree of responsibility for it. Pressure to perform often comes from the care recipient, other family members, medical professionals and oneself.

I have to acknowledge you for your efforts to take care of yourself and develop your skills, both musical and artistic. It is a big step in self-care.

To relieve internal stress, I would suggest that you take it easy on yourself. We all have a tendency to judge ourselves for not living up to expectations for our “performances”. Remember, you don’t have to be the best sibling, child or grandchild. Only that you try your best. Give yourself the same compassion that you give your family, and the stress you experience should diminish. Good luck.

Letter #: 458765
Category: Self-Improvement

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