The Struggle of Being a Caretaker
Today is one of those days where I’m reminded why I can never have a regular 9-5 job. When I first decided on opening a business, that wasn’t my first choice. Due to the unpredictability of my mom and brother’s health, I was constantly having to leave work to take them to the hospital. It became so draining when I was working in the bay area, that leaving my career behind was the only choice.
Last night my brother complained of chest pains and that he was having difficulty breathing. The symptoms improved after he used his inhaler, but this morning he decided to go to his work program. Unfortunately, he wasn’t feeling well, and the staff didn’t know what to do and called 911 to have an ambulance take him to the hospital. I went to the hospital to give them the usual information since visitors aren’t allowed during the pandemic.
There are many variables that cause him to end up in the hospital, and that includes:
- Him being autistic, and thinking he knows better than his doctors. He gets his information for Reddit, WebMD, Wikipedia, etc. You can see where I’m going with this.. Once his mind is keyed in on that one thing, that’s all he focuses on.
- Getting him to take his medications is one of the biggest issues I have to deal with. He is unable to comprehend the reasoning behind having to take his medications, even when it makes him feel better.
- Getting him to listen, regardless of how many people who tell him, he refuses to listen, and will simply shut down and go completely mute.
- Getting him to stick to a healthy diet since he’s an insulin dependent diabetic. Keeping his blood sugar under 200 is nearly impossible during this pandemic, and he keeps insisting it’s normal to be close to 300. When he was able to work 4 days a week, he would move around more often, which helped to balance his high blood sugar levels.
- Getting him to stop drinking caffeinated drinks like coffee and energy drinks is impossible. Caffeine + his medications = VERY BAD. He’s been hospitalized many times due to this, but he still doesn’t understand. After every hospitalization, he says he won’t do it again, but he always does it again.
- Having him watch what he says so that the sheriffs don’t show up at our door. Getting him to understand what he says can have negative repercussions is impossible.
How to Deal With It
For one to not go crazy while taking care of someone, unfortunately, the only way is to not be emotionally invested. The saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. I’ve done everything on my end to get my brother the best medical care team possible, but if he doesn’t listen, it’s beyond my control. I take everything day by day.
Is it Possible to Work a 9-5?
My schedule is unpredictable and chaotic to say the least. For me, a typical 9-5 is impossible. Having to take care of my mom and my brother hinders my ability to have one set schedule. I try my best to stick to one, but it can change within the next 15 minutes, and I need to be able to react and adapt.
Can Someone Else Deal With It?
When my mom and brother tried to do everything on their own, I had the police call me all the time, because they didn’t understand how to handle individuals with mental disabilities. When others try to step in to help, that was just as worse because their medications got completely messed up, which caused them to have schizophrenic behaviors: laying in the middle of streets and endangering themselves.
How Can You Keep it Together?
Many days, I feel overwhelmed, because I feel my life is not about me, but rather, about everyone else. I could have someone else deal with everything, but the negative impact it would have on all parties involved would be far worse than me dealing with it all myself.
I try to take my mind off everything by overworking, so I don’t have to think about the negatives that I deal with on an everyday basis. Keeping my mind busy with work and taking on many projects is the best medicine I can give myself. I don’t prefer alcohol and I’ve never done drugs, and never will, so work is the poison I choose.
By blogging about what I deal with, I’m hoping to help someone who feels overwhelmed as a caretaker, and needing some guidance on how not to fall apart. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, know it’s not you. It is normal and it is okay for you to feel.
Your feelings are valid, and it’s important to focus on what’s in front of you, and tackle challenges one at a time.
Being a caretaker is emotionally draining, but if you find support in other productive ways, you will get through this.