So for anyone who doesn’t know or isn’t already a fangirl of my dad via Instagram (that’s not an exaggeration, it’s not unusual for us to be stopped on the street for someone to say how in love with my dad they are, life is weird!), but I have been the primary carer of my Dad who is disabled for the last four years.
Now, Dad was hospitalised last weekend after some routine blood tests came back a bit dodgy and he needed some medication, monitoring, and tests only a hospital could provide. So in he went… on Friday, at 11pm, just after I finished a gig. Great timing papa bear!
When Dad is in hospital, because of his brain injury and dementia, he can’t be relied upon to speak with specialists or doctors about his complicated medical history. This basically means long hours for me by his side in the hospital doing lots of waiting and talking. Now before you get out the violins, please know I love my role caring for Dad and there is nowhere I’d rather be than by his side (other than perhaps in a bikini, with a cocktail and a hot guy in speedos on a Greek Island, duh.)
So when this happens and I have to go into full carer mode, there are a few things I’ve learned about self-care that have helped me stay in the game for the long haul, and I want to share two of them with you. Now please know, these won’t “work”, count as refreshing or be relevant for everyone like they are for me, but hopefully, the ones you don’t relate to can act as an inspiration to find your version of self-care that you need in times of high stress.
I kept a lunch date with my girlfriends… AND I had a wine or two!
It was a bloody effort to pack my make up and think of a nice outfit at 7am before heading into the hospital, and to be honest, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to use them as if Dad “needed me” I’d have to cancel lunch. But I made a point to pack them anyways in the hope I’d be able to go in an effort try and carry on as “normal”. Why? Because I know that one of the most refreshing things for my soul is spending quality time with my besties, ESPECIALLY if there’s is wine. This time reminds me of who I am outside of my carer role which if I let it, can be quite consuming. It lifts my head out of my situation and gives me a break from thinking about it all, and reminds me that there is life outside of what’s happening right now and nothing lasts forever. A perspective that is bloody priceless when you’re stuck in a hospital room for hours on end.
I didn’t self soothe with toxic behaviours… which can be really hard
Am I the only one that just wants to ride herself off during times of stress? God, I hope not! It’s like this unconscious desire to just drink a little too much, call that ex, skip the gym and eat all the junk food. I’ve learned now not to beat myself up about these desires, it’s simply my brain trying to self-sooth, to numb, to cope. The good thing is that my conscious brain knows better these days (mostly) and I have learned to identify when I’m craving to cope with these toxic behaviours, and instead make wiser decisions. So watch what you go to in times of stress then honestly ask yourself if you can see a pattern and if these unconscious coping mechanisms are actually helping you cope, or simply numbing and creating more problems.
Happy to report, Dad was only in hospital for four days this time around and is back at home, drinking coffee and roasting me on the regular!
Would love to know if this helped you identify any self-care strategies you can pop into place, shoot me a DM at @kimelisecooper
All my love yall!