UNDERSTAND THE URGENCY TO ESCAPE
Feeling Isolated and Unhappy – Escape is not always necessary. Being alone does not have to be a bad thing. I have had many moments, and even extended periods when I enjoyed being by myself. But to have it forced upon an individual, leaving the feeling that there is no escape, is a condition that is untenable and often unlivable. Other times, such as with Tom below, an individual can feel trapped or isolated by the lack of desired company, romance and other activities, feeling that there is no one to help take care of him or her. Hence, arises a feeling of isolation, entrapment and even desperation arises.
See what Tom has to say about how his lost romance causes him to feel isolated:
“…..I am my wife’s caretaker. No more nice trips, romance was a town we passed through and out of long ago. I miss a woman’s company. I also feel alone and trapped and I also will do my best to take care of my wife, which I do. However, I think there should be a web site where lonely caretakers can find lonely care takers to write to and maybe meet for dinner at a fun restaurant. McDonalds would be fun at this point, ha. It really boggles my mind that this is not helped along and encouraged. What is the worst that can happen? We would smile at an email or the room would light up as we shared a meal. If the caretakers don’t take care of themselves, no one will.”
Does Caregiving Cause It? – Tom has some good ideas. But, he will need to look closer and dig deeper for solutions. They may be a bit whimsical to be realistic. But he does maintain hope. He is slowly learning that by its very nature, caregiving does not cause entrapment or isolation. It may get blamed but it is seldom the real cause. There are many other emotional causes that precede and contribute. Feeling trapped may be the result of the caregiver’s unwillingness or inability to identify and act upon the real causes. While the pressures of caregiving may not make it easy, caregiving is not the sole cause of unfavorable isolation. We will explore some of the other causes and concerns.
Feeling Out Of Control – FreeDictionary.com described being trapped as “A confining or undesirable circumstance from which escape or relief is difficult.” Note that the definition does not say that escape or relief is impossible. It states that escape or relief is difficult. Breaking out of a self-imposed entrapment can be relieved by self-imposed actions and solutions. Feeling trapped is suffocating, while ending those feelings is liberating. Being lost is not inevitable. Escape is possible. But, there may be obstacles preventing success. You can find them.
Don’t Want Company – The very action that could help with the feeling of being trapped is far too often shunned. Help from others, regardless of who they are, is not enough sought or utilized when available. Why? Because in most cases the caregiver is caught up in the duties, too busy to organize any form of socialization for the patient or for himself or herself. Friends or other associates, including those who could help attack the problem, are too seldom, if at all, contacted and possibly worse yet, they are thought not to be of help, and their potential to help is generally underestimated.
Fear Of Failing – Human nature ought to demand that we try. Many of us don’t. Why do we not try harder? Because we fear we will not or cannot succeed because there is no one to help us. That feeling, of failing all alone, comes when a caregiver no longer believes there is a way out of his or her dilemma. Feeling trapped and alone, with no recognizable assistance, the caregiver withdraws from the battlefield, unable to believe there is any chance for victory. Fear of failure can be extremely debilitating, and it needs to be eliminated.
Note how this distressed caregiver has feelings of being frustrated, angry, entrapped, abandoned and isolated. She is trying, but falling behind where she wants and needs to be:
“I am caring for my very hard headed and hard to please Mother. She expects everyone (me, DR’s) to fix her yet won’t make any changes to her lifestyle, such as quitting smoking, to improve her life herself. The frustration and anger this causes on my part is huge. I also have lost all but one of my friends since I can no longer go out and socialize…and no one wants to come here to the house of sickness. Family knows what is going on, but well, they have lives. The feelings of abandonment, isolation and even anger of losing my own life (I’m 53), are overwhelming. I want to be going on vacations, dating, and having girls nights with my friends…and then I feel guilty for putting my wants in front of my Mother’s after all the sacrifices she made when I was growing up. I want to give up, really, as if this is “the new normal” life, I want no part. Thank you for listening to my ranting, and thank you” (3)
Final Thought - The Google Dictionary says that isolation is:“having minimal contact or little in common with others….solitary, lonely, companionless, and friendless.” That well describes being trapped as a caregiver with too little time, too little strength, too little hope and too few friends and companions. It is a lonely, suffocating, never ending experience for those caregivers who feel hopelessly lost and alone, trapped in their caregiving service. There appears to be no solution or escape. Friends or loved ones could help if they would. But even if they don’t, escape absolutely is possible – and running away is certainly not the emotional or physical answer. Make a change today!