Who Cares For The Carer?
I lost my mum to MS seven years after my dad died of a heart attack. Her condition started to deteriorate from first being unable to walk to not being able to raise her hand. In the end, she couldn’t even say her name.
It was the hardest time of my life. I had no brothers or sisters and for most of those years, no boyfriend to help me through. We had to sell the house and move into an apartment. Twenty-eight months into this, I lost my job due to restructuring. I started to work the nights, translating books while caring for mum during the days. I was also teaching Ayurveda pro bono two days a week, as healing was something I was very passionate about.
It was heartbreaking to see a loving, active mum and brilliant engineer turn into a babbling vegetable. It was gut-wrenching not to be able to stop this. I fought tooth and nail, I taught her yoga exercises and gave her natural remedies (since the usual medication couldn’t do much).
For a while, things would improve. But it wasn’t a complete recovery, just delaying the inevitable. Soon she would have another stroke and her condition would worsen again.
Then one day a friend – and at the time, student – of mine came to tell me the space for our classes was no longer available because somebody offered more money for it. We didn’t have a contract, just a verbal agreement, so there was nothing I could do about it.
But I had a crash. Right there, in my friend’s arms, I cried my pain and frustrations out, screaming that I wanted no more of this mess. The emotional tension was so high that after sogging her t-shirt, I even dozed off for a minute on her shoulder.
She told me then something that I never forgot. She said that I was the heart of all this and if I didn’t make time to take care of myself, everything would go tumbling down, and there would be nobody left to help mum or the others.
You may not be in the same situation. But you might have a family and a business to look after.
While working hard to put bread on a table, you also work hard to keep everybody happy. You put yourself last. Your needs are stuffed in a dusty corner, and if they sometimes come out demanding their rights, you send them away, feeling guilty even for having them.
This is only going to work for so long.
So I’m going to tell you what my friend told me: You are the heart in this.
Despite what you might think, taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury or a selfish act, it’s common sense. Make time for it, before it’s too late.
Because when the heart stops, everything stops.
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