Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Crying in public...

I know this might come as a shock to many of you, but I cry... a lot. Okay, maybe that's only a shock if you don't know me (or another member of my family) at all. I cry when I am happy, or sad, or hurt, or angry, or laughing (the normal or hysterical kind), pretty much all strong emotions are expressed through tears with me. This can be a strength in that I'm usually quite attuned to my emotions which helps me be a fairly balanced individual. It can also be a weakness when dealing with strangers as most people equate crying with something being wrong.

Tonight's SCI Forum had a breakout session just for the caregivers and was led by a social worker. She started us off by asking what were some challenges we face as caregivers and how we cope with the stress of those challenges. (Stinging behind my eyes, lump building in my throat.) I shared how hard and just physically exhausting it was at times being essentially a single parent and not being able to divide the day to day care of a home and family equally. 

We talked about asking for help. How it can be so hard to ask for help, especially when we are so culturally programmed to give service rather than receive. She asked for a show of hands of who had asked for help, and only two of us out of a group of ten or so raised our hands. I choked up as I talked a little bit about our family on both sides and what amazing support we've received from our ward, our neighborhood, and our community. I feel so much gratitude I can't think about it without tears.

We talked about ways to take care of ourselves as caretakers. She shared the analogy of being on a plane and the oxygen masks drop down. You have to put your own mask on first, and then help others. I was going to tell how my knitting group is a huge part of helping me recharge and renew myself as a caregiver, but the gentleman behind me beat me to the punch by talking about how he kills zombies... (I was worries knitting might seem kind of lame in comparison.) But I want to send a big shout out to my Twisted Stitchers (assuming that's the name we vote in next week), you guys really help keep me sane and I love you!

The social worker had us take a quiz to gauge our stress levels and I was pleasantly surprised. I scored 2 out of 20, which means I am coping very well right now. But then I started thinking about how I would have answered six or twelve months ago, and I got all teary because I'm just so grateful that I can see what huge progress we've made in the last year! 

She ended by giving us a list of resources and caregiver support groups, and urging us strongly to seek out professional counseling if we felt pushed too close to our breaking point. I'm not saying she meant that solely for me, but she was making pretty direct eye contact with a worried expression in my direction.
She also expressed some very kind words on the strength of character it takes to be a caregiver, and that was it for me. Sympathy does me in every time.

I left with a handful of papers, a blister on the inside of my cheek from biting it, and a wicked headache from trying not to cry. I should have just gone ahead and cried, as I'm fairly certain everyone in the group thinks I'm a basket case on the verge of a breakdown anyways...

But I'm really not. 
I promise.


April Weeks said...

Bless your tender, sweet, ever giving heart.