When we think we’re invincible as caregivers, God has a way of showing us we’re not. Guest blogger Karen Jackson shares how God has graciously worked in her life to show her she’s not invincible..
In the wake of an incredibly stressful year, one that almost broke me, I had to learn that I am not invincible…not even close.
The challenge began year ago last August. Our daughter’s in-home caregiver (our daughter is 22 and has severe autism) was leaving at the end of July. We needed someone new to start in August. Summer and fall flew by, however, with no replacement. We switched agencies but there was a shortage of people working as support staff, and we had no candidates.
I’m a working mom with two part time jobs. Between the responsibility of managing my daughter’s health and everyday care, not to mention keeping track of her busy teen brother, things were getting a bit dicey at home. I was having trouble sleeping, barely exercising, and flying into a rage it seemed about every little thing.
Then spring hit. Each spring he is gone much of the time, and I am the parent who holds down home base. The agency had finally found someone to work with our daughter, but the employee was both chronically late and inconsistently availability. We limped through the season.
The final straw came in May when the caregiver quit with one day’s notice. We back to square one. In my weary and stressed state, I was sure we were facing another 7 months or more without support.
That was when the depression and hopelessness set in. I didn’t take the news well and became quite distraught. I spent one afternoon in the ER with a bad reaction to some sleeping medication. I realized I was not invincible. I was actually quite a mess and needed help.
4 months after my minor mental breakdown, I am healing and learning how to better care for myself. I took time out from some of my work responsibilities, made exercise a priority, and am catching up with doctors’ appointments and counseling sessions.
Why am I sharing this with you?
If you are the parent of a child with a disability, a caregiving parent like me, you may need to figure out how to slow down and take care of yourself. I beg you not to ignore the warning signs of fatigue and stress. Find a way to make a change because can’t keep the pace forever. No matter what you are doing our what you’ve accomplished in the pat, you are not invincible.
If you are a family member or friends with people caring for children with disabilities, I pray you never assume they are doing just fine, even though that’s what they will say to you when you ask. I almost never tell people how I am really doing. I don’t want to burden them or go into details they probably won’t understand. I urge you to check in with your friend, lend a listening ear, or practical support. If they say no, don’t give up.
Though I am blessed with loads of supportive friends, the swiftness of my breakdown took me by surprise.
As a person of faith, I believe all things happen for a reason. I pray you take time to care for yourself or support a caregiving friend who needs your encouragement or practical help. When we think we’re invincible and discover we’re not, it’s the most invincible thing we can do.
PS: Less than an hour after I drafted this story, our fairly new and excellent in-home staff person text me gave notice that she was quitting. I feel like I’m in a better place right now to accept the situation without having a panic attack. I am also in awe of God’s timing. He prepared me for the disappointment and stress of being without caregiving help with the words of this story. I am grateful for his grace and know He will see us through. Praise God!
Karen Jackson is the Executive Director of Faith Inclusion Network (FIN) of Hampton Roads where she lives with her husband and three children in Norfolk, VA. She is also the author of Loving Samantha. You can connect with Karen at the Faith Inclusion Network page, and at Community For All Initiative.
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