Specific Situations > Extreme Caregiving

Taking care of yourself, for a change


My Kenneth lived 13 years beyond what doctors thought he would. That was 13 years of hospitalizations, trips to the emergency room, visiting specialists, and nights with little to no sleep. I won't even go into all the time spent just taking care of him, on top of trying to work full time and manage a family. My own personal welfare and needs had to take a back burner to everyone else's needs and taking care of my husband, in a desperate attempt to keep him alive as long as possible.

As we have discussed in other topics and threads, extreme caregiving can take a toll on the body and the mind. I am at a point, where I need to take care of my own medical issues and my own personal needs, but I struggle with taking care of me. I have become forgetful and often fail to make doctor appointments or to take medications, as I should. I don't get nearly enough sleep, and I often forget to set aside time relax and focus on my own mental health needs. After years of taking care of someone else, and managing all that needed to be done, I cannot seem to manage my own self. Does anyone else find it difficult to focus on taking care of yourself, for a change, rather than taking care of your spouse?

I am a complete failure at self-care.  I've always been outwardly focused (another teacher here - the perfect occupation for one who prefers taking care of others) and it often, pervertedly, felt like extreme caregiving was my calling.  No answers here but lots of empathy. 

It's hard.  It's easy to feel like you're not doing this or that, that you SHOULD be doing.

After my high blood pressure excitement this summer, I felt like I had to attack my habits and norms on several fronts.  I make lists all the time, and it helps me to focus and not drop details.  I can beat myself up when I fail, but I re-found my sweet spot, where I spend most energy focusing on the things I get right, while trying to limit what didn't to, "dang, I will have to try to do better at that tomorrow".  Right now I am trying to manage how I had early success with weight loss but hit a plateau at -15lbs during the holidays.  I am adding trips to the gym now, too, with a freshly-minted membership.  Juggling the time for all I want to do it tricky, but I am trying to get a set of attitudes that work overall.

One thing I know more clearly is that I am worth the effort, and setting up to have a healthier and more enjoyable life is important.  I was not motivated enough just to be there for my kids, I had to have some personal skin in the game, too.

Take care,
Rob T

TooSoon....I can completely relate to the concept of feeling as though extreme caregiving was a calling, for me. I have even discussed this with both my mother and my sister at different times, before and after my Kenneth died.

Rob....I loved what you had to say about being worth the effort. From what I know if you, I would say that you are worth it. I guess I am worth the effort, too. Unlike you, though, my kids were all adults, when I lost Kenneth. For a while, I didn't really have others to think about, so I put off going to doctors and managing my needs. There just didn't seem to be a real reason to care.


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