As the holiday season comes to end and the New Year is upon us, we definitely tend to struggle this time of year.
Who would have thought 10 years ago we would be living in a new city, in a newly built modified home and trying living life to the fullest and form lasting relationships. So much has changed since those first few years after Shawn’s accident. I feel like I have changed in my outlook on life, family, relationships and the future. I definitely struggle more with my mental health and it took me a long time to realize it. I was so strong and so focused for so long that I forgot to pay attention to myself. I hate the loneliness and isolation but instead of letting it get me down my goal this year is I am going to focus on what wonderful times we have ahead of us. If anyone wanders why we love to travel so much, this is why. At this time of the year is when we notice how difficult it is for us to really be a part of the celebrations around us . We aren’t able to enjoy the house parties and get togethers so we stay home. I have always planned the get together and parties so that we can be included but even that gets exhausting. I reflect on the last year and think about who stayed in touch, who extended an invite, who made the effort, who still remembers that we are here. I notice who enjoyed the warm hospitality we provided but then never reached out even once all year. If I see one more meme about friends that don’t stay in touch because we are all busy nonsense I will throw up. I think building and having regular connections with people are what builds the strongest relationships. We are not your typical family because we have to make plans in advance and figure out workarounds to ensure accessibility. We need the connections and the contact to feel included. Our friendship may take a bit more work but we are the most loyal and caring people in the world to those that understand and make the time for us. We do get lonely when it is cold outside and there is not much that Shawn can do in the winter. Many caregivers are getting by on very limited support because our support workers take time off over the holidays too. Many caregivers also cancel shifts on days like Christmas Eve, Christmas, NYE so that our loved ones are getting to actively participate in the celebrations with the rest of the family. However, this comes with a price and one that we take on ourselves, isolation and mental, emotional and physical burnout.
I am sure this winter blues is very common with caregivers but we just don’t talk about it. It ends up just making other people feel bad or obligated or guilty and that is never the intent. We just want to know that someone is listening and cares. As we start a new year and new decade the hope for my family and myself is that we can continue to find and surround ourselves with only those that value the unique dynamics of our life and who we are. Bring on 2020!