Is Their Depression Affecting You?
In life there are givers and takers but the person who gives the most sometimes isn't even aware just how much of themselves they are sacrificing. As a caregiver it's very easy to be drawn into a situation where the needs of another begin to dominate. It's also not uncommon to find other family members are only too prepared to let one person shoulder most of the burden.
Giving help and support to a loved one is the most human thing to do but we can't ignore the fact there is often a price to pay. The longer we subsume our needs to those of another the greater the risk to our own health and wellbeing. Over time it is not uncommon to develop negative feelings and resentments, yet some givers may forge ahead without stopping to reflect on how the situation is affecting them.
We all have feelings but long-term caregivers may suppress them. These same people have a higher incidence of stomach complaints, headaches, cardiac disease, anxiety and, somewhat ironically, depression. So how do you know if your long-term care for someone with depression is affecting you? Well there are a number of questions you might ask yourself and the more of these you answer yes to, the higher the chances that you are directly affected by your caregiving role. For example:
- Do you feel anxious, lonely or sad?
- Do you get irritated or frustrated?
- Do you feel you have neglected other people and your own interests because of their depression?
- Do you feel less productive?
- Do you feel embarrassed by their depression or your situation?
- Do you ever wish you could walk away from it all?
- Do you sense more friction in your relationship?
- Do you sense a greater imbalance in your relationship as a result of their depression?
- Do you feel less in control of your life these days?
There are more formal, valid and reliable questionnaires out there, but for our purposes my example is sufficient to get the idea across. My point is that you are ill-served by giving too much of yourself and paying too little heed to your own needs. From a giving perspective you are actually a better caregiver if you pay attention to your own needs. The less you attend to your own needs the more your abilities to care for others are affected.
So, it’s all about balance. Natural givers don’t find it easy to focus on themselves, but self-sacrifice should only go so far if there are alternatives – and usually there are.