Dealing with Overwhelm
I’m interested to know how other carers deal with overwhelm. The sense that it’s all too big for anyone to handle, let alone you. That it’s all coming at you like a meteor storm and you’re so tired you just want to lie down in the midst of it, sucking your thumb.
Seeing other people get on with their lives while yours is stopped in its tracks, taken over by the needs of a needy person.
Hi-jacked by your love for someone who isn’t ever going to get better. Trying so hard to make it right for them, but getting into fights along the way like a mediaeval knight trying to protect his princess from dragons.
There is so much coming at me at the moment that it’s almost laughable. Where do I start?
Nick’s neighbour is still on the rampage and as well as the smashed door incident there have been three occasions in the last month that I’ve had to call the police. The crazy thing is, there is no noise coming from Nick’s TV or radio anymore as the hearing loop is working and we took his bedside CD player away weeks ago. What exactly is he hearing to upset him so much? Now there is talk of re-housing and an Anti Social Behaviour Order – at the moment just talk though. While the police have been brilliant, the council are dragging their feet.
And Nick’s bathroom door handle is coming off again. Last time this happened, I phoned the council repair team who told me they didn’t class it as a risk, resulting in Nick getting stuck in the bathroom and having to be rescued by emergency services. Need to call them in again, when I can summon up the strength to wait on the phone for forty minutes.
The carers have taken on Nick’s nutritional needs but the ABC of no-brainer risk assessment seems beyond them. Yesterday I arrived ten minutes after they had left, to find water all over the kitchen floor. It looked as if someone had put the washing machine on the wrong cycle again. Did they not notice, or have any concerns about Nick coming in to get his wine (which he does at very regular intervals) and slipping?
In the bathroom, meanwhile, the bottle of bleach was sitting beside the loo with its top off. Words absolutely fail me. These are adults, supposedly trained in health and safety and the care of vulnerable persons. Paid to do this job. Not very well paid, but paid more than I am to be on their case like this day in, day out.
Our landline is not working. I don’t know why.
And a relative I’ve never met from New Zealand is coming to stay with us for three days. I’m picking him up in an hour. I want to meet him – his dad, my cousin, was a very good friend of mine back in the day and we have a shared gene pool, thankfully on my dad’s side so HD free. But I have no idea how to even begin to entertain him, let alone explain how things are for us. Though I suppose if he is here for even a few hours he might understand the crack, and also why our house is so unkempt and grimy.
And there’s more, so much more, going on, but enough already.
The only reason I have time to write this is that I’m waiting at Nick’s for a delivery.
Anyway – worse things happen at sea, I tell myself. I have recently gone back to an old love and started doing an I Ching reading every day. It always calms me down and every time the message is absolutely spot on. Today it more or less told me to stop mithering and get on with it, basically “keep calm and carry on” in Chinese script. Someone somewhere probably has that as a tattoo.
It also told me that I can’t do any more than I can actually do, and to step back a bit and let other people do some of the work.
Once again, this is the hardest one for me, and if you too are caring for someone, I bet it is for you. As I’ve said before, I would love to delegate more to other people but so much of the stuff I have to deal with for Nick is up to me as the legal deputy and next of kin.
However, I’m just gently flagging up the possibility that the world won’t end if I leave our visitor to his own devices for a couple of hours tomorrow and go for a swim, or ask a friend with a car if she could take Nick to the dentist.
Perhaps this is the only way to deal with overwhelm – just go really carefully, one small step at a time, and keep on walking bravely through the storm.