She is a caregiver for her husband.

How has caregiving impacted your life?

Caregiving impacts you emotionally, financially, mentally, socially and recreationally. It changes who you are and how you look at life.

The emotions are overwhelming and dealing with the medical field can be exhausting.

No one is ever really prepared for declining health or caregiving responsibilities, especially when you’re in your 30’s and early 40’s and when it lasts for years. This is supposed to happen when we’re old.

Life changes in more ways than you’re ready for. Disappointment and frustration are part of the game. No one around us was truly able to relate or understand half of what we were going through, so over time you stop sharing. You think, “I don’t want to be a burden”, or “they don’t want to hear what’s really going on”, or “they have their own problems and don’t need to hear ours”.

Why did you become involved with the Alberta Caregivers Association?

I was referred (to the ACGA) by my disability manager after going on medical leave for multiple symptoms associated with burnout, prolonged stress and exhaustion. After six years of dealing with everything, I hit my wall and couldn’t deal with anything anymore.

How do you balance the caregiving with the other responsibilities in your life?

I’m still learning how to balance everything.   I’ve learned to let go of a lot of things. I’ve learned to do what I need and not what others feel I should do.

I incorporate a number of different things that work to create balance and put things into perspective. I call it my tool kit.

I still can’t ask for help with many things in life, but I did learn to share, seek out support, get advice, and allow folks to treat me from time to time.

All along this seven-year caregiving journey, I have spent time with family and friends, even if my husband has to stay at home. It might be a quick visit, a meal out, or a social/entertainment outing to get that break and share, vent, have fun, or just disconnect from the stress for a while.