wings and things

“Look after yourself.”

on February 17, 2017

I used to absolutely hate it when people said this to me. Over many years, so many people have said the following kinds of things:

You need to look after yourself, Julie!

You should get out more, Julie!

You’re exhausting yourself, Julie!

You don’t have to visit Anthony every day, Julie!

You should sell the farm, Julie!

You should smoke pot, Julie!

You need to get a life again, Julie!

This sort of well-meant advice enraged me at the time, and I resisted it, but now I am beginning to think that maybe – just maybe – it is time to make a bit of a change. A friend visited Ants the other day and, when this friend asked Anthony how I was, Anthony said, despondently, that he hadn’t seen me for days. But I had seen him the previous day! Admittedly I haven’t been into the nursing home as much as usual due to the new puppy (who, having only just been vaccinated, can’t be taken anywhere until next Friday due to the parvovirus outbreak), but it was frustrating to find out that Anthony hadn’t remembered my previous day’s visit.

And this is my dilemma: on some sensory level, Anthony notices my absence and conflates the single days I don’t visit into several days, so feels neglected. On the other hand, I might be with him day after day and he will still forget and this is a cognitive/time issue. This is an impossible conundrum that I wrestle with constantly but, due to the puppy situation, I have seen less of Anthony than usual over the last month.

The fact that, despite his now advanced Dementia, Anthony has noticed my absence, is terribly upsetting for me. On the other hand, I am beginning to realise that I actually do need to care for myself better. But I had to come to this realisation by myself and not succumb to all the ‘should’ advice.

When Ants was home and Ming was little we had an idyllic little triangle of love for each other; it was magic and it went on and on, for years and years, despite the onset of Anthony’s many illnesses (including kidney cancer in the first year of our marriage).

I will never, ever abandon him and not visit, but perhaps it really is time to re-find myself, look after myself. If I can learn how to do this better, I will be more effective in the carer support groups I am helping to facilitate.

Look after yourself.

12 responses to ““Look after yourself.”

  1. Judy says:

    I sense helplessness within this. My mother used to say “the sun rises and sets with your children.” Well, Anthony is like your child. So if he has a good day, you’re peaceful and if he’s “off” – it’s upsetting. There is no control over this disease. One of my hardest times with my mother’s dementia was when she became paranoid and angry at me.
    There’s no way of knowing where this will go. I just hope in your heart you are gentle and compassionate with yourself. You are doing the very best you can and even Anthony in his healthy state wouldn’t want you to suffer so.
    Even more than taking care of yourself, I know that distraction and doing other things is very important because when Anthony is gone – it will be the very thing that sustains and comforts you.
    I think you are doing remarkably well considering how long this torturous road has gone on. Hang in there, Julie. So many people love and and care about you.

  2. I can relate to the advice, I know I have given it, and I can relate to the resistance as well, as I struggle to receive it.

  3. susanpoozan says:

    I do hope that you can manage to take your own advice, so well thought out.

  4. Being told to look after ones self is annoying, yes people mean well and yes people maybe right but still it is not something most of us want to hear generally we are so busy worrying about others and taking care of others our own help falls by the wayside it is a daily struggle

  5. It’s very hard for women to take care of themselves.

  6. tootlepedal says:

    Who guards the guards? Who cares for the carers? Good questions.

  7. artfulanxiety says:

    Hahaha, smoke pot. That’s funny.
    Dunno Julie, maybe sometimes going to see Antz is looking after yourself? You said yourself there’s a lot of love there – I bet you can both feel it when you’re together even if the situation is very difficult.
    But yeah, top yourself up from time to time. Especially with delicious cakes.

  8. ksbeth says:

    yes, this is such good advice to yourself –

  9. Lynda says:

    I won’t tell you what to do; just know that I am sending love. ❤

  10. Judi Lynn says:

    A new puppy? Bet he keeps you busy! I like to listen to advice, consider it, and then do what I think is best. That’s all a person can do. Most advice is well meant, but that doesn’t mean it helps:) Good luck with finding the balance that’s right for you.

  11. Val Boyko says:

    And look after that little puppy too!

  12. I’m so glad that you have come to the point where you recognize you need some attention too…Diane

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