Caregiver's Burden: Dealing with Burnout and Stress as a Care partner
Updated: Jan 4, 2022
A few years ago, I worked with a woman who was struggling to cope with her partner’s attitudes towards his Parkinson’s disease. She felt worried, frustrated, resentful and guilty; she didn’t know what else she could do. This is a story that is far too common in my counselling practice as a counsellor in Vancouver.
Feelings of a Care Partner
As a carepartner, you may also feel the heaviness that comes with a chronic disease diagnosis. Like your loved one, you are learning what it is, how it affects the body, what treatment options are available, how you might share the news to family, friends and colleagues, and how the diagnosis may change your work-life schedule. The list of worries and concerns can seem endless. Falling into “thinking traps” (certain types or patterns of thoughts that trap the thinker into unhelpful train of thoughts) is normal given the new diagnosis. There is so much to learn and so much to process. You may feel overwhelmed, lost, scared and alone.
Knowing how to identify and separate from unhelpful thinking, such as thinking traps, can be empowering. Talking through your worries in a safe space with a counsellor can help provide immense relief from the weight you are carrying as a carepartner.
Creating a Space to Heal
When my client said “there’s nothing else can I do”, we immediately sensed one of her thinking traps taking front stage. She was falling into her All or Nothing thinking. “It’s hard,” she said, “I have done everything I can. How can I do more? I am burnt out.” Neither of us denied this. As we sat with the words she had uttered, she named them for what they were: fear. That alone created space between herself and her thoughts. She breathed. She slowed down. She let her thoughts float out in front of her, to be seen without feeling tied to them. This was a beautiful moment. She had come to understand and experience what it was like to be mindful (to breathe, to slow down) in the midst of a thinking trap. She had cared for herself then and there. She had separated herself from her unhelpful thoughts. She knew they were not her; they did not define her. She was more than her thoughts. Then she smiled; I could tell she felt empowered.
Counselling is a space for exploration. You may not know exactly what you are exploring, but when you give it a try you can find yourself living the fullest life again. Contact me to find out more about counselling and whether we could start exploring together.