In most lives, there is an annus horribilis. the Latin for 'horrible year'. Queen Elizabeth II famously used the expression in a speech in 1992 to describe that year when everything went spectacularly wrong. (There was a fire at Windsor Castle, the Princess Royal got divorced, the Duke of York separated from his wife and the Prince of Wales had very well-publicized marriage problems.) A lot of us, in fact, have many horrible years. One disaster is overcome only to be replaced by two more.
I had annus horribilis times 17 starting when I was trying to help my parents move, my father had a heart attack their first night in the new house, then a stroke 20 minutes after getting back from the hospital, and the crises never seemed to end. I would think that I had everything taken care of and wham! I was hit by a new catastrophe. Friends' mental health issues, toxic workplace, demands made on my time when I didn't have time.
I recently realized that I have been a caregiver most of my adult life. For me, it was easy taking care of my children. That's the natural order of things. But trying to take care of an adult who insists on making poor choices, that's frustrating. How did I get through it all without losing my tiny mind? How did I find joy in every horrible year? I had words to live by: "Life's hard and then you die" (oddly comforting to me), "Don't worry, be happy" (a Bobby McFerrin song that my four-year-old son would remind me of), "I am woman, hear me roar" and "I will survive" (you probably know those). I prayed. I journaled (rather than venting to my friends all the time). I met with a life-coach who taught me how to deal with others' demands on my time and energy. I took time for myself. That usually involved tea, dark chocolate, and a book.
It's okay to take care of yourself. It's vital to take care of yourself. You cannot help others if you are overcome by stress, anxiety, despair. You certainly cannot live a tolerable life if you are overcome by stress, anxiety, despair.
Caregivers need to take care of themselves. Here are some books that may help:
A practical guide for caregivers 362.6 PRA
Coping with your difficult older parent : a guide for stressed-out children /Lebow, Grace. 306.874 LEB
Fourteen Friends' guide to eldercaring : practical advice, inspiration, shared experiences, space for your thoughts /362.6 FOU
Stop walking on eggshells : coping when someone you care about has borderline personality disorder /Mason, Paul T.,616.85 MAS
Learn to relax : a practical guide to easing tension & conquering stress /George, Mike. 155.9042 GEO
Stress and how to avoid it/Stuttaford, Tom 155.9042 STU
Turn stress into bliss: the proven 8-week program for health, relaxation, and stress relief/Lee, Michael 613.7 LEE
When your body gets the blues : the clinically proven program for women who feel tired and stressed and eat too much /Brown, Marie Annette. 616.85 BRO
If you don't take care of your body, where else are you going to live?/DVD 613.7 ROM