As a caregiver to my TBI'd husband, and mother of six kids from 2 to 15 yrs old, and primary income-earner for a family of eight, I've gone so far past being burned out that I feel like a piece of charcoal.
I can't remember doing anything fun just for myself in years... My idea of fun these days is going to the grocery store alone.
Sometimes I stay up real late (well, often) working, and once in a while I'll take a short walk outside at about 3am when it's really quiet out there, and I feel so small that my troubles seem irrelevant. It soothes me, and then I fall asleep fast.
My wildest dreams are that I have some friends (!?!) and they come over to help me clean my house. That's as far as it gets, just fantasies... Well, I used to have friends, now I have kids.
There is no one I can rely on for help. My oldest kid is 15 but my 13 year old is ADHD so I can't leave the older kids to watch the littler ones yet, maybe next year...
We DID get "respite care" services funded through the state head injury program, but they tell me they're not allowed to babysit or do anything useful. It's been NO respite for me, and all they do is take my husband into town for coffee or to the library, which means I get stuck home with the kids for the day while he gets his "respite". huh.
My only "respite" is in my mind, and in the fun I have surfing the net while I'm working. And in the camaraderie with friends on the support list. And in my fantasies.
People ask me "how do you do it?" - I answer "I don't". I just get by, managing the barest essentials, squeezing in time to work around my family, living in permanent state of sleep-deprivation, wondering where I'll find the strength, but its just one day at a time, intermittently pretending everything is normal but knowing it never will be.
When I start getting depressed, I focus my energies on developing my business and playing with my kids, forgetting the selfish yearning for some time for myself. It's been so long I don't know what that means anymore anyway.
Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
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