Imagine for a moment what it must be like to be dependent everyday on another human being; imagine the frustration and possibly the shame one might feel. Yes, the life of a Caregiver is hard, but so is the life of one who is incapacitated. We often concern ourselves with the mental health of the Caregiver without putting enough thought and effort into the mental health of the one who is incapacitated. It is especially hard for those people who had lived an independent life, for they particularly know the difference.
My son Mitch was born with an arachnoid cyst on the brain, and the pain he must have gone through before we were finally able to help him must have been intense. Chronic pain is difficult to live with, but for those who can communicate we know to give them painkillers. Mitch was not able to communicate his pain, and we had no idea what he was experiencing until later in his life when we were able to research the condition. We can only look back and see the hell which he must have been put through.
Someone like Mitch, who was in chronic severe pain, would not have been emotionally well. This would explain the temper tantrums and the difficulty in life which he was experiencing. These conditions need to be diagnosed early so surgery can be implemented, and pain remedies put into place. I feel shame as a mother that I did not recognize the signs of un-communicated pain, and I have felt some anger at the doctors who mismanaged his care.
The first measure for mental health is pain management. I have known a few people who suffer from chronic pain, and I have experienced my own bout of intense pain before being diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis. When you are in pain you can think of nothing else, and life becomes difficult. Managing pain playa a crucial part in the mental health of the incapacitated.
So, the first strategy in providing for the mental health of the incapacitated, besides providing the basics of food, water, shelter, clothing, heat or cooling is to make sure any communicated or uncommunicated pain is being managed.
Secondly, recognize that the incapacitated person has feelings, and that they have the right to express these feelings. In themselves, feelings are neither right nor wrong. Feelings are movements of energy flowing through you. No two people are going to experience feelings exactly alike, because each person is unique and even though some experiences are similar, they still differ in individual people and circumstances, and each person has their own history and perspectives.
Some of the similar feelings which people go through when becoming incapacitated are:
*fear and anxiety…it is scary to be placed in a situation where you must depend upon other people for your care.
*Anger..It is normal, especially at the beginning to feel anger about your condition, or the event that put you in that condition. Sometimes people have expressed anger at family members, friends, medical personnel, at yourself, and even with the Almighty.
*Sadness and depression
*Guilt…feeling guilty that loved ones are having to care for you
*Grief…even though it is normal to mourn the loss of anything that means something to you, and it is a normal process one goes through it is still a sad and traumatic experience.
This is a time when people might feel fragile and vulnerable, and sometimes feel like they might be going crazy as torrents of unpredictable emotions wave over them.
It is normal to have all of the above feelings, and to express them. After awhile people will come to terms with the disability and will develop a positive attitude which envelopes gratitude, joy, thanksgiving, and closeness with others. Many people, after experiencing a life-changing disability of their own are able to lend compassion to others. I mean, real compassion the kind that comes from the inner recesses of your soul because you’ve experienced it too.
The word for heal means “whole,” and a person can’t fully heal one aspect of themselves and be complete. To become whole means to heal physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Wholeness, or healing means to engage your mind, your soul, and your very being in to every step. Being healed doesn’t always mean that all physical ailments can be cured, but it does mean that you can can over-come and heal to the greatest depth possible for the situation.
For the incapacitated it often requires great patience on the part of the caregiver to help this unique and wonderful human being recognize his/her healing potential. One of the reasons I care for Mitch rather than rely on professionals is because I know that I can help him achieve his greatest potential because I love him. Professionals have their place, and they often love the people they work for, but it is not the same kind of love that a mother has for her child. I do what I do for the love of Mitch, not for the quest for money.
I understand your pain,
I love you for who you are.
I won’t have you unnecessarily drugged, and
cause any extra strain.
You know you can count on me, it is stability which
We will conquer despite the weather, because we are
walking this path together.