If you’ve read the article on Anxiety Vs Depression written by Shaywardncr, then you already know me and where I’m coming from. If not, well my story in a nut shell is that David, my first husband died from complications of Heart Disease in 1987. I met and married Jim in 1990, and in 1998 he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He had a stroke his first night in the hospital, leaving him partially paralyzed and he died May 23, 1999. I’ve spent most of that time since he got ill scared, afraid, frustrated, more anxious then you could imagine and very, very sad. I’ve watched not one, but both of my husbands suffer long and painful deaths; sitting by helpless to make them better. Oh yes, I could make their day better, but I could not cure their disease.

Am I depressed? Oh Yeah! I could write a book on that! Am I anxious? You betcha! Big time.

Yesterday was Saturday, and the 10th day that I had been hospitalized for chest pains and depression. The good news (as the saying goes) is that my heart and arteries are just fine, thanks! The bad news is my attitude and outlook on life aren’t so great. I’m temporarily in the Crises Intervention and Evaluation Unit of the local hospital.

I think I must have been born to be a caregiver. I have alays felt that the task I was given at birth, was to always care more about someone else, their problems, fears and needs; than myself. That’s great for those around me, because I’m a GREAT caregiver. It’s not so good for me though, because I’ve about tapped myself of every ounce of whatever makes me function normally. Probably if I had a million dollars, I’d give it all away to help other people live a better life and I’d end up poor, homeless, and in debt up to my ears.

I’ve worn myself out taking care of other people’s needs, trying to fix their problems, listening to their stories, making their life easier ~ at the expense of my own well being. Last week I went to the Emergency Room with chest pains and other discomforts.

By Saturday I had three EKG’s, they must have withdrawn gallons of my blood, and a technician did an ultrasound on my heart. Sunday morning I endured a nuclear stress test which scared me big time. For two days and two nights the doctors kept reassuring me that my heart was fine, yet they kept ordering more conclusive tests, putting nitro patches on me, had me on a heart monitor and meds. Go figure!

They finally sent me home basically telling me that everything was fine and it was probably just stress. Not terribly reassurring, I can tell you that. I went home Sunday night more anxious and depressed than ever. Monday I managed to get an appointment with my psychotherapist. By the time I got to his office I was crying and shaking non stop. We talked and when asked if I had suicidal thoughts, I honestly said “No, but I don’t want to live like this either. I’d rather die and be with my husbands.”

BINGO! I’d just said the magic words.

He encouraged me to admit myself into a mental observation unit for a few days to help me get control of my life once again. Once there, I also learned that I was put on a suicide watch unit. Well, I did get some professional help and feel much better able to go on about my life now. If I didn’t learn anything else from the experience, it was how very much my freedom means to me. I never realized how important FREEDOM was until mine was taken from me for a week. I also learned that it is ok to ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak or lazy, or love the one you are caring for any less.

God’s message to me a long time ago was from the Bible. According to Acts 20:35: “…the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” I’ve lived my life giving of myself and not comfortable taking anything in return. I’ve always put other people’s needs and feelings before my own. O.K. here’s the million dollar question: So why do I feel so insignificant, so useless, like a nuisance to everyone around me? Can you answer that? Here’s another one for you: Why am I so mad at everyone that loves me? Anxiety Vs depression, depression and anxiety – do all caregivers give their all making life easier for everyone in their environment; yet take such lousy care of themself? Probably so. I can’t believe that I am unique in this trait.

If you are caring for someone, Please take some time to take care of yourself. Surely there must be something that you could ask someone else to do for you. If you know someone like this that is looking a little worn around the edges, see if there is something you can do to relieve them for a little while. I just bet that you wouldn’t have to look too hard to find someone in your circle of family and friends that could use a little help. Please do whatever you can to help, or to get help, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you. I would not wish this hell that I am living on anyone; but most especially to someone that throws their heart into helping others have a better life. If you care anything about the person that needs the help of others in order to maintain some independence, then do whatever you can to preserve the sanity of all involved.

P.S. I have been writing articles for the Empowering Caregivers Website and Newsletter for several months. One positive result of my recent “vacation from the real world” is that it’s time to start knocking down the walls that I hide behind. So from here on I will just be Scerenity, also known as: Shaywardncr