Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Understanding and appreciating the feelings of caregivers

One of the hardest things to talk about is feelings.  No matter how much we talk, it never seems enough.  It can also seem pointless.  Perhaps that is one reason why, many reach the conclusion that it is better to just concentrate on practical solutions and avoid talking about feelings as far as possible.  Once we start talking, there may be no end in sight and then too much energy  and time are gone.

As humans we communicate some of the most powerful messages not through words but through our actions.  But never may it be that we thus conclude, that words have lost their rightful place.  There is a time to talk.  And when that time has come, may we have the wisdom to recognize it.  This ongoing desire to communicate and the resulting communication, both through words and actions, will result in the preservation of our treasured relationships.

Having a deep regard for the feelings of our caregivers

It is the most noble work - to care for someone, to assist someone.  It is only natural that the one cared for feel obliged to return love.  This ongoing mutual reassurance between the caregiver and the bipolar patient is the lifeblood of the relationship.  Relationships cannot be one-sided if they are to continue.  Can you imagine the frustration of a caregiver who labors in pain, who puts up, who has learnt to be disappointed again and again, and then not even be appreciated for it?  Wouldn't that be a tragedy!  True, as a bipolar patient you might want to do so much for your caregivers - your friends and family - but are limited.  However please remember, the more important thing is not what you are able to do, but what you want to do.

What are some things we can do as bipolar patients that show that we understand and appreciate the feelings of our caregivers?

  • Making full use of the time of wellness: If you have recognized that you are enjoying a time of wellness, then it is an excellent opportunity to let your caregiver feel loved.  Helping with small chores at homes, or sending that surprise email of appreciation can go a long way.  They need it, they long for it, even if we all know that a day of illness will return.
  • Taking care of oneself: Many times it is the frustration and discouragement over being sick repeatedly that hinders a bipolar patient from caring for himself.  Always have it as your aim to get well not only for your own sake but also for your caregivers, even if it takes long.
  • Listen: Bipolar disorder produces a great need to talk.  One thing we want to do is tell others how we feel, and that we do indeed appreciate them.  However, might we accomplish even more by listening to the feelings of our caregivers?
  • Encourage them: Bipolar disorder has caused you to feel and experience what you otherwise would never have.  This insight into the human heart and mind is an asset.  Use it to encourage your caregivers.  Find ways in which it can be done.

Please remember, you will have periods both of wellness and illness.  If the desire is there first, it will become evident to your caregivers that you do understand and indeed appreciate their feelings.  We owe them, we owe them our admiration and love.

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