Finding Yourself After Your Caregiving Journey Ends
“I feel like I’m not myself right now. I don’t even know who I am anymore.” Have you ever said these words out loud or to yourself? I have.
My mom lived with Alzheimer’s for a decade and during that time, I completely lost myself. I allowed myself and my life to be consumed by her illness. I felt guilty any time I tried to live my own life. I didn't feel like anything was worth doing if it was not directly related to my mom and her care.
Since my mom passed a little over a year ago, I have been working hard to rebuild my life. I have realized that it is not so much about finding myself again, but about creating the person I want to be and the life I want to live. If you are struggling with this, I have a few tips that might help.
Ask yourself, “Who was I before I became a caregiver?”
Who were you and what things did you like to do before you became a caregiver for your loved one? Maybe there was a hobby you enjoyed or a group activity you liked to participate in. Maybe there was a restaurant you always liked to eat at or a park you always liked to walk in. What things did you like to do when you had the time and freedom to do them?
What fills you up and makes you feel good inside?
What’s your thing? Maybe you enjoy running or working out. Maybe there’s a book, podcast, or TV show that inspires you. Maybe you like writing, connecting with others, or volunteering. What are the things that make you feel fulfilled and most like yourself?
If you don’t know, try new things to find out
Make a list of people, places, and things that sound fun or interesting to you. Try a new sport or hobby. Join a new gym or take a walk in a new park. Try a new restaurant. If you could create the perfect life for yourself, what would you do? Where would you go and who would you go with? Take some time to figure it out. You have the power to design a new life for yourself.
Take advantage of this blank slate
Recreate yourself and your life to reflect what you want. Not knowing who you are or what you want to do with your life can be very intimidating. I would encourage you to look at this as an opportunity to grow and develop into the person you have always wanted to be. Create a new morning routine. Develop new habits. Discover your passion. Start working out. Read more. Whatever it is. Take advantage of this blank slate, this fresh start, and create the life you have always wanted.
Start small, but start today
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is all-consuming and it can be hard to know what to do with yourself when your journey ends. It can also be a great time to rediscover or recreate yourself and your life. Start small, but start today.
How did you rediscover yourself after your caregiving journey? Tell us about your experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.
How are you doing?