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Help! My Mother is Driving Me Crazy!

How to self-manage at the peak of frustration while caregiving.

Although I often feel guilty about reaching this point, I know that we all do as


This role is demanding.

This role is emotionally and physically draining.

This role requires around-the-clock care.

This role is important.

This role is life-critical.

This role is a privilege and an honor.

But it is HARD.

And this is my cry for help.

Before my frustration and anger get out of control in ways I will regret, I ’m taking this as a signal to take an immediate break!

I believe all caregivers will experience this heightened frustration at some point in their journey. And when you do, please be sure to do this. Pay close attention to your feelings rather than feeling guilty about experiencing them.

I’ve learned that these “boiling points” are signals for the inner emotional work we need to do for our own benefit. This emotional work will allow us to consistently show up and be present in the lives of our loved ones.

Here’s my prescription for how to handle anxiety, frustration, or even mild depression

at the moment it inevitably arrives.

Take a Time Out

Whenever I ’m frustrated, I tend to step back and allow myself some alone time

whenever I can. It can be something as simple as a walk around the block, a short

drive, a walk in a park, a class, or a quick retreat to my room for fifteen minutes of


What it does for me:

Having my own time and space to do as I wish without my mother’s needs invading

my space creates a boundary of sorts. A time when I can call the shots without any

interference, clear my mind and gain perspective in my life. This time creates a few

moments of peace, renews my mental and emotional energy, and allows me to

emerge with a clear, alert mind. This eradicates any sense of burnout or resentment

that could possibly interfere with our relationship. As a result, I have declared my

room as the “leave me alone” zone.

Recharge Your Batteries

Part of providing care for someone you’re close to i s dealing with unrelenting complaints. They can involve anything from the food you serve, the temperature of their bathwater, the outfit you laid out, or even your own personal appearance. For the most part, I let these comments roll off my back. But on the days when they seem to have an impact on me and I begin to bark back at her in agitation, I know something’s wrong. I realize my energy reserves are l ow and I need to get away for more than just a few minutes.

What it does for me:

The extended time away from home - whether it’s for a few hours or a few days - allows me to recharge my batteries by focusing on my own wants and needs. Although they aren’t a high priority all of the time, my needs still serve a purpose in my life. Therefore, they need to be addressed. Any getaway i s a great way to get some time back for me to recharge. The key i s to start taking daily time for yourself - whatever that means for you.

Value Your Well-being, It’s Worth the Money

Even though I know the time has come for me to get some time away, I still struggle

with the internal battle of the expense involved. If money is truly an issue for you,

consider creating a Me-Time budget that you contribute to regularly. Because a

change in environment is a great prescription for immediately rejuvenating and

recharging yourself.

What it does for me:

When I’ve made it a habit to get away for shorter time periods, I’ve eventually worked

my way up to giving myself a real vacation. When the vacation is over, I remind

myself to put the next me-time event on the calendar. When the time arrives, it may

not always seem like the perfect time to go, but with caregivers as my backup, my

mother and I both benefit from the mental restoration and energy gained from my

time away. In the end, I regret the time I don’t take more than the money I spend for

my respite.

Learn to Let go

As I write this, I recognize that it’s been more than two years since I’ve been away for an

extended period from my caregiving responsibility. Because I haven’t gotten the

opportunity to step away for such a long time, my trust i n my caregiving team to

execute full-time care for my mother in my absence isn’t there. We’ve been working

with a new team, due to the lack of industry professionals and there are often new

caregivers starting who need to be trained on my mother’s specific needs. Because

of the instability, I need to work up to developing the trust and comfort necessary to

step away for an extended amount of time. So, I ’m going to start with taking an hour

or two away on the weekends.

What it does for me:

As much as I need the time, I also need to learn to let go. Trusting the care providers

to take care of my mother without my presence again is a crucial step in my

self-care. As long as my mother’s basic needs are met, I must make peace with it.

Some things won’t be done to perfection or meet my expectations dead-on, and

that’s okay.

We’re not aiming for perfection. We’re aiming for our loved one’s safety and overall

well-being. The goal is for you to have some time to relax away from your home. Trust

is built over time in small increments.

Put Forgiveness into Your Daily Practice:

I had to learn to forgive myself for experiencing my feelings. I was beating myself up

for being human. But my feelings are a direct output of how I ’m processing the

events of my life. They allow me to gauge my overall well-being and monitor my own

needs. The truth i s, caregiving is demanding work. There will be difficult days, and

over time, it’s normal for your resolve to weaken.

What it does for me:

I l earned to be patient with myself and to learn from my own feelings. I now take

them as an alert signal to practice self-acceptance and self-care in my daily life.

Over time, your ability to process the daily demands of caregiving will strengthen. As you learn more about yourself and your loved one’s needs, you will become more

experienced, more patient and better advised. Learn to forgive yourself and them as

this experience is difficult for both of you.

When I inevitably return home, my mother will resume her complaining. But when my

energy and reserves are restored, I’ll be equipped to smile, and tell her that I

understand and will do better. I will l et it all roll off my shoulders, change the

conversation, and go about the day!

#caregiving #selfcare #recharge #forgive #peace #timeout

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