Definition of caregiver: a person who provides direct care (as for children, elderly people, or the chronically ill)
I spend way too much emotional and physical energy toward the care of others, aside from myself. Why do I care so much, too much? No doubt due to my upbringing, to my relationship to my parents – trying to please, to earn their love and approval. Why, after decades of therapy, do I still feel and act as an enmeshed parentified daughter? I’ll just leave that question hanging there for now. Not up for explaining alcoholic family dynamics. Too tired. Adult Children of Alcoholics has a good concise description.
Who do I really care for? Good question. My husband and my son are the most important people in my life. I have devoted a great deal of time and energy trying to help my son. Too much, perhaps. No, not perhaps, without doubt. Now, I need to step back, to neglect a bit, to allow for more independence. Time to do just enough. To be just good enough. Just enough. Enough.
My sister, trying to help me set boundaries and stop taking on too much emotional responsibility, reminded me that I am not our parents’ caregiver. They are in memory care. The memory care facility provides their daily care. That’s what we pay them for.
I am not my parents’ caregiver. I am my son’s caregiver, and even he could use less of my care.
Now that my parents both have dementia and live in a memory care community, aside from being their daughter, my role is to be their power of attorney. With my sister, I make decisions on their behalf. I pay their bills. I coordinate their care, which is not the same as giving them direct care.
Before my mother’s stroke, I did not visit my parents regularly. I did, though, talk and play Words with Friends with my mom daily. I miss communicating with her. I miss my parents as they were before dementia. I’m grieving.
Living with bipolar disorder, I must take care of myself. This season, springtime, is a time when I often start mood cycling. I’ve feel particularly vulnerable and fatigued. The longer sunny days trigger hypomania and irritability.
On a more positive note, in January and February and again next week, I’ve been a NAMI Provider Educator for the staff at the hospital where I received both inpatient and partial day treatment twelve years ago. I enjoy educating their staff on what it is like to live with mental illness and to be in mental health recovery. Wish me well next week. We’re increasing the time that we devote to our personal trauma stories, so I must rewrite mine. I may edit my In Our Own Voice presentation for content, or I could take a look at what I have shared here.


47 responses to “Who Do I Care For, Really?”

  1. Wonderful, thank you!

  2. Rebecca, you may want add your new website address to your Gravatar. If you do so, when people click on your image beside your comments, they will be directed to your blog. Handy way to network.

  3. Thank you and God bless.

  4. I’m new to blogging. So I’m unaware of proper etiquette. My own website is Titled: Caregivers and God’s Plan. It is designed as a devotional for caregivers. I suppose this can be looked at as pushing my own site. That is not the intention. It might be helpful, as I hope it would be. You have all hit on the sticking point of caregiving. When and how do you take care of yourself without guilt and worry, at least the best we can. And it is Biblical to be caregivers. But when can you let go. I just started so it is nothing fancy. If it helps just one person I will have glorfied God with this process of obedience to Him! I hope this is okay.

  5. Thank you. As you well know, it’s really tough and takes a toll.

  6. Oh, Kitt. So relatable. I spent five years caring for a mother with dementia at the same time as a child with mental illness. It severely depleted me. I am still recovering. Your are right, we must be vigilant about our own wellbeing in order to be the best possible caregivers. You’re doing it with grace and what a gift to share with others.

  7. Thank you, Robert.

  8. If I’ve made this comment elsewhere, forgive me., We folks with chronic mental health problems must deal with the everyday stress of life on top of confusing and sometimes complex symptoms.
    There are few life changes more painful than watching our parents sicken and die.
    You’re doing your best. You always do your best. 🙂

  9. Greatly appreciate mine.

  10. I have care-givers too. ?

  11. Yes. Very important to care for one’s self.

  12. Well, I’m also cared-for. As I have bipolar disorder, my husband is in many ways my caregiver. He helps me.

  13. you must try and look after your self. I know with bipolar we just keep on going but there comes a time when we crash. take care x

  14. Hey Kitt,
    I sometimes see it as a privilege to care for others. You can be under tremendous pressure that’s really grinding at you, but I will take caregiver over cared-for most days.

  15. I hope so! It’s one of her many beautiful qualities.

  16. Yes. Heartbreaking and bittersweet. You no doubt learned compassion and love from your mother’s example.

  17. I can DEFINITELY relate when you say that you put your physical energy toward the care of others. Sometimes, I do this so much that I forget to care about myself. As I’m growing into adulthood, its hard to balance everything out. When my grandmother was dying, I saw my mom be her direct caregiver and how tiresome that was for her. But, I will always have respect for her willingness to do this for her mom. It was a bittersweet thing to watch, that’s for sure.

  18. Paladin Avatar

    This is a good post, Kitt. I can relate to E’s concern. There is no need to provide a Zen phrase with a paradox meaning. I remember the audacity you provided with your IOOV presentation on Labor Day. Plain and simple: Would suggest you add Caregiver to the IOOV “Success” topic portion. I am sure others would agree with this recognition the past year.
    Wish you the best in balancing your activities through this DST period. Warmest Regards!!!

  19. ❤️❤️❤️????

  20. Very true! (though, you can’t really starve your kid either). Definitely threw me off. Didn’t sleep at all last night & haven’t been able to nap today. That said, I had an appointment today and am doing everything I can to get ahead of it! Hopefully will sleep tonight. I hope you’re hanging in there too!

  21. Thank you, e! Love you. ❤️

  22. The sleepover may have overstimulated you, too. Maybe. When I have company, I experience it as a boundary intrusion and get anxious about my housekeeping. Plus, you can’t starve someone else’s kid.

  23. You had me at “Hello” with this piece Kitt…I always appreciate your transparency. There’s a liberation in that. Thank you always…e

  24. I’m not actually a mother of twins. My LO had a friend over for a 2-night sleep over this weekend. BUT, your advice is sound either way.

  25. Not good! As a mother of twins, you must be twice as careful to maintain your mental health. I definitely take nighttime meds to force sleep when I must. So important! Good luck! (I understand how engrossing it can be to revamp a website.)

  26. Yes. It’s currently 3:11 AM and I have been up and caring for 2 five year olds since 8 am. I should be exhausted. I’m revamping my entire site and feeling the creativity flow… It’s the start of an upswing, I know. I just noticed the time… Gonna take my nighttime meds and see if I can catch this before it gets past the creative and fun part to the not so fun part… Thanks again for sharing! And for your strength! <3

  27. Spring doesn’t trigger everyone, but it’s a common mood trigger. Hope you take good care of yourself.

  28. You are so not alone, Kitt. Thank you for articulating your situation so well, with candor and sincerity. Wishing you well, in all that you do. And thank you.

  29. oh my … “longer sunny days trigger hypomania and irritability” I hadn’t even thought of that. In the past, say prior to 6 months ago, I never paid attention to what caused my mania or irritabilty…or depression, or… etc. Thanks for pointing that out, so I can watch for it.
    I can relate to wanting to please and earn parents (or others) love. I’m just now learning that my life is important too and I don’t have to make anyone but myself happy.
    Best wishes for next week!!

  30. Thank you, Marie. God bless you and all that you do in Cameroon.

  31. Thank you, John!

  32. Now I have to research Plastic Paddy. I must be one, for I only read the first sentence to get my definitions and didn’t go deeper. At least I’ve visited Ireland (I was only seven). Loved it. It was everything I imagined, especially after living in Saudi Arabia for five years. It was the greenest place I had ever seen, and I regularly visited the Seattle area to see my grandparents. Plus, cool castles and ruins. Felt connected. Still do. Half of me comes from Germany and Bavaria. My grandfather said we were Bavarian gypsies. He liked to tell stories, so not sure if I’m really descended from gypsies…

  33. Without a doubt, Spring Mania is a thing. The birds chirp louder, the sun shines brighter, new life is cacophonous, triggering hypomania and mania.

  34. Thank you. As I, like many other professional women, waited until my late thirties to have my son, my parents are in the last stage of life while I’m still parenting a school-aged child.

  35. I wish you all the best dear Kitt, thanks for sharing and really do try to care more for you even if it’s easier said than done

  36. Kitt
    You’re doing the right thing and that’s wonderful
    Big hugs in support

  37. Wishing you very well next week – they are truly lucky to have you on board.
    You will do a great rewrite job!
    As for your parents, I’m glad you have a sister with whom you can share the burden. It’s helpful she reminded you not to take on so much.
    I commend you for recognizing the fact you’re grieving for the loss of your parents before their health problems took over – it’s heartbreaking. Because of everything you wrote (i.e. the season being a vulnerable time for your mood, pulling back from your son a little, etc.) please take extra-good care of yourself. As always, you’re in my thoughts and prayers, my dear Hibernophile.
    p.s. This Wikipedia factoid made me snicker: “In some cases a Hibernophile may also be a Plastic Paddy, a person who appropriates stereotypical aspects of Irish culture without understanding it.”
    You could never, ever be a Plastic Paddy!

  38. Thank you for being so open and honest! Please do take care of yourself, though. “Spring Mania” is a thing. I feel it coming on myself, as do some of my other friends living with Bipolar <3 You’re an inspiration!

  39. Oh, I feel you here, Kitt. I’m so sorry you’re caught between raising children and caring for your elderly parents. That’s a tough road to walk. Thanks for sharing.

  40. Thank you, Mark.

  41. Guilt – yes, that’s the feeling I didn’t articulate. Always feel it, feel like I’m not doing enough, like I’m failing, like I’m a failure.

  42. Without doubt. Caught between aging parents and children becoming adults.

  43. Blessings for your journey Kitt, an ever changing, ever defining ability to recognise yourself, let alone those we love around us. Just follow the love in your heart, it will always be the best that you can do…and recognise the pain that drives beyond that.
    And thank you for educating me, I cannot ‘really’ imagine the difficulties that your condition, or others for that matter, are really going through unless you do as you have, and describe ‘life’ as you step through those ‘changes’, let alone being a caregiver from that place as well. It takes a big heart. Thank you for sharing 😀

  44. Always always always telling myself not to do so much, feel so much for others, or that stupid GUILT for – what?? I don’t know! Anyway… I understand. 🙁

  45. I guess this is a question every woman asks herself after a certain time period

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