Helping someone who is ill. Impatience, intolerance, anger, frustration, depression, regression, anxiety and recklessness, are all things you may witness in the lives of someone who is suffering from chronic illness. Moods change in a flash, love becomes attack, and attack becomes love, all facets of life in the day of someone facing circumstances beyond their control. Sometimes it’s the medications that bring on sudden mood swings, other times it’s just the simple mechanisms of the emotional upheaval of being confronted with ones own morbidity. Be the solid anchor in the storm.
So how can we help, how can we give support and love when often our love is rejected, or we become the focus of attack? The main resource we have within us is compassion, and tolerance beyond that the essential ingredient is “don’t take it personally. ” It’s true that people generally strike out at the one they love when they are scared, ill or just plain unhappy. That is a fact of life I am afraid. The way to negotiate this passage is to stay out of your emotions, just don’t emotionally buy in, feeling guilty about what’s happening to someone close to you is unhealthy, very unhealthy for everyone involved. There is an old saying, “If you’re into guilt your playing God, ” and that is also true, guilt never fixed anything, all it does is eat away at the very fabric of your being.
So how can you stay out of the emotions? It’s hard if someone is saying hurtful things, or behaving irrationally not to show emotional reactions, and at the end of the day, we are all human, we all look to that security of being linked firmly to another human being. Knowing in your heart what the truth of the situation is for one thing helps, and what I have always found is that to love someone else more than yourself, to give support unconditionally to the one in need is the one very thing that builds a firm anchor for the one in crisis to bounce around and then anchor back too when they are ready. Its sometimes like standing still in the centre of a hurricane and not blinking, just be still, stay strong, stay understanding, and provide the energy that is love. What ever you do don’t get angry back at the person, walk away cool down, take a deep breath and bring things back into perspective.
Be clear on what your personal boundaries are, by this I mean don’t over do things, make sure you take care of yourself in the process of taking care of the person who is ill. So many times I have seen the carer become the one who ends up seriously ill from the stress of the situation, good intentions often lead to overdoing things, so know what you can do and when to say enough. Have regular respite periods yourself, go for a walk, take time out for a coffee with friends, and take care of yourself. Dealing with the anger of feeling helpless This can be done in many simple ways, one way is to get an old phone book, and cut a piece of hose pipe 2 ft long of your garden hose, go into the garage close the door, sit on the floor and then beat the hell out of the phone book. Give yourself permission to get angry, and process that anger in a positive way; just let it all out on the phone book. Start hitting the phone book slowly and think about the issues at hand, then just keep hitting it, you will end up with a terrible mess but you will walk away feeling exhausted but lighter for the experience.
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