Being the Caregiver While You’re Sick

For most of my adult life, in some way, shape or form, I’ve always been the caregiver to other people. While the population and diagnoses might be pretty different, my end goal has always been the same: serve and care for others.

At times, this has been the most difficult task in the world for me, but it’s what I enjoy doing the most. I knew in my first year through college I wanted to become more involved in non-profits and it was during that year I became active in the community.

Taking care of people was all I knew until I was forced to take care of myself.

After my IBD diagnosis, I had to make the decision to look for part-time jobs instead of full-time. I knew that if I applied to a full-time position, I would end up sicker or miserable, unable to perform my duties to my full extent. And I can’t live with the latter.

It’s a difficult lesson to learn – having to take care of yourself in order to take care of someone else. Parents with a chronic illness, a student trying to manage a full load of college classes, anyone with any type of serious responsibility… you know how hard it can be while you’re hardly able to take care of yourself.

Recently, I’ve been doing part-time caregiving work before I start a new job. In many ways, it’s helped ME cope and helped me feel like I’m thriving instead of hopeless. I finally felt like there was a meaningful part of my life again and someone once again relied on my help to achieve their goals.

I have to say, I tell my friends who are ill and have kids “I’m not sure how you do it.” And I’m not sure I’ll ever be lucky enough to know that, but if I do, I’m sure it will be a similar feeling of having someone fully relying on you, that positively motivates you to keep going, despite how sick you might be at any given time. That amazing feeling that without your care and your attention, wouldn’t be the person or achieve the goal they strive for.

I feel so blessed to have been given a heart that wants to serve others, but it can be emotionally draining when I need to care for myself first.

Since being unemployed, I have focused on that first, and foremost, and I cannot believe how much my emotional and physical state has improved. I may not be back to where I was before with my confidence and body image, but that goes along with the territory of teeter-tottering with Prednisone while awaiting approval for a new biologic.

I’m thankful for sites like InflammatoryBowelDisease.net to help support me and give me something to fall back on if and when I need that. People who get it are hard to come across in our daily lives, but being able to hop onto this site and see the positivity shared back and forth in the comments has been a gratifying experience and I feel like I’m making a positive impact on others.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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