Monday, November 9, 2015

Caregiver Self-Identity: Who Am I Now? It's YOUR Choice --

A caregiver wrote VeteranCaregiver recently saying, "I used to be a marketing executive before becoming a full-time caregiver.  But I've lost my identity and don't feel accomplished or even know myself anymore?"

Such a good question; our self-identities can be swallowed whole by caregiving.  It can happen gradually over time, but you are not alone.  It's very easy to get lost in the daily grind, completing tasks, becoming more and more tired, and tending to everyone’s needs except your own.  You are last on the list.

Truthful statement:  only you can carve out time for you.  If you have become accustomed to putting aside everything that once gave you joy, does that help your situation at home?  Does it help you feel good, or like a martyr.  A therapist once said this:  “You need to choose, are you a martyr or a victim?”  Neither of those labels felt good, and were rejected.  How dare she say that?! 

But, if we make the conscious choice to set our boundaries, set aside a small portion of the day, and refuse to relinquish ourselves to others’ needs entirely, we will be better caregivers and individuals.  You haven’t lost your gifts and talents, and those unique traits are inside you – you just need to take the tarp off and give yourself permission to claim them.  
There will always be those who complain, and complaining is fine if it leads to possible solutions, but of little value if not.  No judgment here, but only you can help you begin your personal growth or to beef it up.  Best of all, you have now learned new skills, some of which you may take for granted.  Did you ever think you’d be able to direct the medical care of a loved one, or wade through bureaucracy with determination and purpose?  These new skills have made you a stronger, more accomplished version of yourself if you’ll stop to recognize it! 

Take the time to write down your skills; what are you good at, what are your new talents, even write a resume.  Add notes on your smartphone, and read them to yourself or post it on your mirror to remind you that you are worthy, smart, savvy, and you matter.  Create a LinkedIn profile because in doing so, you’ll realize your skills are valuable, and you'll have an identity outside of your daily role.  Then Follow other people of interest and start learning anew. This is Post Traumatic Growth.  Many caregivers find new skills and experiences give them new capabilities, and IF they consider them, new self-confidence.  You are "more" than your daily caregiving!

With introspection, time spent thinking about you - yes, you - you will see ways to reinvent yourself, recall your strengths, and take back you.  You are worth it - take the time to believe it!

Linda Kreter & the
VeteranCaregiver Team


  1. Whew! "wade through bureaucracy with determination and purpose." You said a mouthful there! We were discussing "accomplishments" and "success" the other day. My husband said that I should just put; "I beat the VA... twice" on my business cards. Well, I wish more people understood the full efforts that it took to accomplish that task. "Working with" the VA has taught me more about research than college ever did.

  2. BRAVA to you - realizing how your persistence, persuasion, and grit led to this accomplishment is high-value! Incidentally, I like your husband's comment too. Perhaps switch that to "Overcame years of obstacles to obtain ___, ___, and ___". Most people reading a resume or a LinkedIn profile would understand what that means. We DO understand what a monumental feat that is and you are strong and savvy.