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The Emotions of Caregiving for Cancer

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tacchi0909.jpgToday, let's discuss the fluctuating emotional aspects of caregiving. Below are a few examples of typical things that I hear from caregivers.

"My loved one is so irritable with me and I'm working as hard as I can to help. All I want to do is go home."

"I don't have time to take care of myself. Even if I did, I don't know where to go or what to do."

"I just want things to return to normal, to the way things used to be."

"Sometimes, I just have to get away."

Sound familiar? Sometimes caregivers feel as if their mood changes in relationship to managing the fluctuating nature of day-to-day medical circumstances.

"Help! I'm on an emotional roller coaster and I can't get off."

"Sometimes at night, I just lay there waiting for the next earthquake."

"If I don't sleep at night, I end up crying the next day."

Caregivers often work overtime to provide care to their loved ones. This has its pitfalls and blessings. It's often a job requiring 24/7 attention with many physical and emotional demands, filled with highs and lows. The most common complaints of caregivers are emotional and physical fatigue, exhaustion and sleep deprivation. The time and effort it takes to care for your loved one each day can, over time, become very stressful with a gradual wearing down of energy.

There's a high correlation between fatigue and depression in caregivers. When you're under such tremendous chronic stress, you can experience many emotional ups and downs on any given day. One minute you feel as if you have it all together and the next minute it seems like you're falling apart. Not only is physical fatigue a factor, but emotional overload is as well.

The Volcanic Feelings of Caregivers: Emotions to the Max

"My feelings bounce around all over the place. Sometimes they are positive and sometimes they are so painful I don't think I can stand it."

Sometimes you may feel like a virtual volcano when pressure builds without relief. Today may seem too difficult and tomorrow too uncertain. Where are you today on this spectrum of feelings?

Calm............................................................Scared
Happy..........................................................Sad
Relieved.......................................................Nervous
Contented.....................................................Angry
Confident......................................................Worried


The "Forbidden" Feelings of Caregivers

"Sometimes, I can't talk to anyone about how I feel. I don't want to burden them or take away the hope of my loved one. No one understands what this is really like unless they've been through it."

It's not unusual for caregivers to have intense feelings that they're hesitant to talk about, especially to their patient as caregivers may wish to protect their loved one from hearing about their distress. These feelings can be strong and seemingly in conflict with what you're trying to do. Although others may tell you to "think positive or be optimistic," there are times when this just doesn't seem possible.

Which of these "forbidden" feelings can you identify with?

•    Yearning for "normal"
•    Doubt
•    Resentment
•    Anger
•    Guilt, feeling trapped
•    Fear
•    Hopelessness
•    Helplessness
•    Worry
•    Sorrow
•    Grief
•    Loneliness


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