Caring for our caregivers

Lord, I know that, despite the illness I struggle with, I’m a caring person, like so many of us. We help others whenever we can and many of us have made contributions to our communities. Even then we run into problems with depression and other kinds of emotional distress. It becomes hard to hide our feelings. Our spouses and friends find it hard to be around us. In fact, feelings of depression can spread and poison the entire household. Everyone living close to us is touched to some degree.

What can we possibly do to keep this from happening, Lord?

Lord, what would we do without those people close to us who want to help? They are there for us when we need to talk, they encourage us to eat our meals, they let us know we’re loved. But when this goes on for any length of time, they might tire and maybe don’t feel very appreciated. We are probably not the only ones with trouble coping.

But you know, Lord, how I feel when I’m in the depth, in darkness, finding it hard to move off the couch. At times like that I can hardly do anything at all. When I’m suffering like this my mind floods with inner pain. I become selfish in many ways, unable to think of others, unable to realize what my condition is doing to the people around me – those who try to care for me.

But Lord, over the years I have found ways of coping. I’ve learned what I can do to help myself feel better. I’ve learned how doing small things can help my mind and body become less lethargic. Occupying myself with something – a little at a time – I start feeling somewhat better. Small chores like emptying the dishwasher, or making the bed helps me improve. Working on a simple craft like crocheting a dishcloth sometimes boosts my spirit too. And listening to music is helpful.

I have come to see that when I improve – even for a time – my caregiver starts to feel happier too. Everything I do to help myself cope, encourages my caregiver and helps him cope as well.

Lord, it seems like dealing with depression is a bit like a partnership between myself and the person looking after me. It’s not only about what the caregiver does for me, it’s about the two of us working together. With encouragement from my supporter I do what I can to help myself and my supporter is encouraged by my effort.

One more thing, Lord. Something important. When I’m in the depth, I get so caught up with all the ugly thoughts in my head, I forget to express my gratitude to the person who is trying to help. Please help me recognize the gift his care is for me. Despite my condition, help me look for ways to bring some happiness into his days. Help me show him that he’s loved.