It's no secret around here that I have been seriously depressed. It's also no secret that I am trying like hell to stay positive and make the best of my life. Lately I've been realizing some things about myself. Things that I used to see, but somehow got clouded along the way. Like how smart I am. Yes, me. I'm actually pretty smart! I mean, I already have a BA degree, and now I'm working on getting a nursing degree. Smart, right?
It may seem stupid, but I really have had a hard time believing in myself. And I couldn't figure out why. My self-esteem used to be much, much higher. People used to accuse me of being conceited. I'd tell them I wasn't; that I just had a really good self-esteem. And I think that that is important.
So the other day I was looking at the VA website for people with MS, and came across a section just for caregivers. I read through it, and immediately felt a little better about myself. I realized that being a caregiver means that before you can care for someone else, you first have to take care of yourself. (Ok, I already knew that, but it's easy to forget.) And I have a confession to make--I have NOT been taking care of myself. FOR. A. LONG. TIME. I always put everyone else first. My kids, my husband, even the cat! I eat the kids' leftovers, buy myself clothes only when I absolutely HAVE to, and don't even put on makeup half the time. I leave the house with wet hair, never styled. I don't give myself any "me time."
Fellow caregivers, I have been in the WRONG.
As a caregiver, you simply have to take care of yourself first. If you don't, you will in no way be able to take care of your loved one. You need rest, exercise, alone time, and you need to reward yourself on occasion. I have let myself go. I am now overweight, with high triglycerides, and on the brink of having fatty liver disease. I am always sick with a cold or cough. I am always tired. For years I have been blaming myself, but now I see that while it was me that did this damage, it is not my fault. I was putting everyone else first. My self-less acts turned into my stresses, which have now turned into my own demons. Don't let this happen to you.
Now that I have told you the bad, I need to tell you the good. First of all, I have recognized my problems and have made a plan to do something about it. That in itself is an accomplishment. Second, I have started to implement that plan into my daily life. I am going to a Zumba class twice a week. I am eating smarter. I am (slowly) banning sugar from my diet. And I have a friend who is going to hook me up with a new meal program called "Medifast" as soon as I can afford it. I am ready to fight this battle and slay my demons. Are you with me?