Sunday, January 17, 2010

Caregivers: Do You Tell Your Ill Partner About Your Stress?

Typically, the bulk of the attention goes to the partner who has the health condition.

Doctors, nurses, clinics, & hospitals make appointments with the ill partner. They run tests on the ill partner to assess the status of the condition. At home, care providers - aides, physical therapists, visiting nurses - focus on the ill partner to find out how s/he is doing and to assess what adjustments might need to be made in her/his care.

Family members, colleagues, and friends call to find out how the ill partner is doing. Even empathic pets tend to curl up next to the ill partner.

And even the well partner focuses most of his/her attention on taking care of the comfort and daily living needs of the ill partner.

So - who is paying attention to the well partner, to the caregiving partner?

Often the answer is no one, not really, not in a sustained way. Yet the physical and emotional stress the caregiving partner suffers is huge. And often s/he feels s/he must keep it boxed up, put on a shelf for later; not to be shared with the ill partner for fear of overtaxing him/her.

The caregiver has not only lost the partner s/he knew, along with the dream of a predictable future, but s/he has also lost his/her best friend and confidante.

Caregivers -- to what extent do you share your stress, your burdens, your worries, your reality with your ill partner? If you have, what has been the result, for you and for your ill partner? If you don't share your stress with your ill partner, what do you do with it?


Anonymous said...

My husband and I have always been open and honest with each other about everything. We talk about everything...even the stupid and silly things, our fears ...everything. If we didn't do that, I know we wouldn't have made it these last 10 1/2 years when he got RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. It's that communication and friendship that has and will continue to keep us going and together. We take each day together - good and bad. I hope this helps anyone wondering what to do...for us it works and I'm thankful.

PS) I did go through a time where I didn't tell him things that were bothering only made things worse, because he knows me so well, so it was best to keep doing what we always have...stay open and honest and keep the communication open at all times.

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly, this is an issue I'm currently in the midst of trying to find my way through. My fiance unexpectedly had a heart tranplant 2 years ago in his 30s and has suffered from depression since then. Telling him about my stresses has only added to his sense of guilt and anxiety and overall depression. Not telling him has increased the distance that I feel between us and a lonely way to live. It can really feel like a no win situation.