“The mental health of a caregiver is not understood in our country and that is so important because if that person is mentally in a healthy condition the kind of caregiving he will be able to give to a person terminally sick will be tremendous.”
Rashmi had always been an animal lover. She would feel distraught whenever she came across an injured animal. Finally, through some encouragement, she joined a number of organizations that worked for animal welfare. She soon got overwhelmed by the sheer number of cases she came across and started questioning her privilege. There were instances when she would have to rush out in the middle of the night to tend to a case, which her family disapproved of. She started suffering from depression and couldn’t make sense of the emotions that were engulfing her.
“Caregiving is an emotionally tough phase … what I have seen through some of my friends who are caregivers is that their life comes to a standstill and they go completely into caregiving and after the person has passed on, they don’t know know what to do with their lives at that point in time”
She then goes on to talk about how she realized that caregiving can be emotionally challenging. She has witnessed friends go through this cycle where being a caregiver has become their new normal but after the loved one has passed away, they do not know how to go back to their old life. She adds that counseling from organizations such as Caregiver Saathi helps the caregiver to process their grief.
She talks about how she felt that she was the sole animal lover in the world but then realized that there was actually a community around her. She acknowledges Bhavana’s (Founder and CEO of Caregiver Saathi) efforts in making her understand that she doesn’t need to shoulder the burden alone but to seek help from other animal lovers. The sessions with Bhavana made her feel at peace with herself and she was able to come to terms with her feelings. Bhavana would constantly urge her to take time out for herself and check up on her which in turn caused Rashmi to work on herself as well.
She feels that most caregivers don’t realize the importance of having these sessions as they feel that this is all part and parcel of life. They often put their own mental health on the backburner. However, they don’t realize that only a person in the best of spirits can provide the kind of emotional support that is required by a terminally ill loved one.
If you can identify with this story, please share it with others who care for someone and help them share too. The feeling of understanding, not being alone and access to support is what keeps caregivers going.
Sharing your story helps understand yourself — feelings, passions, hopes. It lightens the load and offers relief from loneliness, anxiety, anger or guilt. Our experiences and hopes can benefit others – to know that the challenges are the same, learn new ways to cope and care… they aren’t alone but part of a team.
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