I have a hard time calling myself a caregiver because I always think of people who’ve had it so much worse.
You are definitely not alone in this - 50% of caregivers don’t identify as a caregiver.
Even if we do know we are a caregiver, many of us think of friends and family who have gone through much worse as “the real caregivers”. However it is important to see ourselves as caregivers and to consider the impact that caregiving is having on our mental and physical health. When we do this, it is easier to notice what types of things we could use help with and to get that help through resources that are available nearby.
If we are short term caregivers, it’s still important to acknowledge that we are caregiving so that we can be kind to ourselves and remember that there is additional stress and responsibilities and that life isn’t normal right now.
Research has shown that caregivers are twice as likely of developing a chronic illness, they have twice the rate of depression, and they are spending far more time and resources on caregiving than they realize. Caregiver stress is real. Caregiver loneliness is real. Caregiver burnout is real. We aren’t weak when we experience these things. We are all doing our best.
Caregiving isn’t a contest to see who can handle the most without needing help.
Caregiving resources are available as a part of any form of caregiving, to make it manageable.
Research has also shown that caregivers often feel deep meaning in caregiving and a profound sense of love. There is strength in caregiving. We can love something and find it deeply meaningful and also be experiencing doubt, stress, fear, and even anger.
The more we access resources to help us with caregiving and connect with others around caregiving, the more we will be able to experience the positive sides of caregiving - more of the good stuff, which can often be hard to feel.
By recognizing that you are a caregiver in whatever situation you are in, you are empowering yourself to take action for yourself. There are resources to help you in your caregiving - from food and transportation, to help with medical issues and in-home care.
Receiving care is a way to do an even better job at caring for those you love.