I can’t believe I made it through the first week of the challenge! I can’t believe I made it through three weeks of coronavirus sheltering in place! I’m thinking by now we all know a little more about what it feels like to be depressed…
Depression is one of the hallmarks of chronic conditions of any kind, and of long term caretaking. What an awful combination it can be when both of you – client and caretaker – are both depressed. Believe me, it happens.
I don’t know what your experience with depression is, but I’ve seen enough of it that I know not to discount anyone’s experience. I’m not genetically given to long term depression but I’ve had moments, maybe days, where I’ve been unable to help myself. Unable to find motivation to do anything. I can’t do anything but wait for something to change.
Depression is sometimes hard to recognize in myself, and hard to admit. It doesn’t present the kind of image I like to have of myself. Because I’m aware of how I’ve felt, I kind of know what to look for in others. Chronic disappointment, chronic pain, unrelenting fear/stress, and other critical situations can trigger depression -when we can’t be sure change will ever come, when we can’t find a resting place, or a safe person. Sometimes it’s not apparent what the cause might be.
If you are a caretaker, you need to know that failure to practice self care can lead to depression. It is okay for you to practice self-care. If you don’t you will eventually be unable to care for others.
You also need to know the symptoms of depression for those under your care. Parents (you are caretakers!!!) recognize the changes that signal depression in a child. Healthcare workers, make emotional health of your patients part of your observation and concern. Those caring for family members, where there is more likelihood of long-term disability should be particularly aware of the silence, the apathy, the resignation and behavior changes that suggest depression.
I can’t give you the sure-fire cure for depression. For some medication helps, and it seems to be one of the easiest attempts to solve the problem. Exercise, sunshine, music, distraction, the passage of time can all help, even if that help is only temporary.
There is one remedy that you as a caretaker can apply that will never hurt, and often is one of the best aides. You can be genuinely caring and show it by your willingness to listen, your words that express your concern, your notice of suffering, and your faithfulness to difficult situations.