At the doctor's office the other day, I noticed a poster about caregiver stress that listed warning signs of being "in trouble." One of them was: Feeling that you're in crisis mode.
That really caught my attention, because my husband and I have frequently used the term crisis mode to describe how we function when I'm not doing well. At times, it's lasted for months. Of course, it's horrible for those of us who actually have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, but it's also grueling for the people who have to do more while we do less.
What is Crisis Mode?
When we're in crisis mode, everything has to be simplified. My husband cuts back on overtime if he can. Dinners are usually from the microwave. Only the laundry that absolutely must be done gets done. Socializing? Forget it. Non-essential appointments are canceled.
I know my husband has been exhausted and frazzled at times, working full time only to come home and do laundry, cook, clean, shop and take care of both me and the kids. He's sometimes felt like a single parent.
It's hard on the kids, too. We've gone through times where I didn't have much to give them. It hurt to hug them, I couldn't handle their volume or rambunctiousness, and they've had to learn to do a lot for themselves at a young age.
We've called in help from friends and family when we could, but there's not always a lot they can offer. Everyone works and has other commitments, and a few have health problems - and limitations - of their own to deal with. And, quite honestly, sometimes they just don't want to do things for us.
It's one thing when we're in crisis mode for a few days, but if it stretches into weeks or months, it becomes difficult to function on any level. Anyone who sees that happening does need to take whatever steps they can to alleviate the strain. Some of my colleagues here at About.com have some great resources for you:
- Crisis Stress Management, by Elizabeth Scott, Guide to Stress Management
- Top 5 Caregiver Stress Symptoms, by Suzanne Dixon, Guide to Colon Cancer
- Common Causes of Caregiver Stress, also by Elizabeth Scott
Information to help them understand your illness is here:
You can help take care of your caretakers by understanding that they may need to take time for themselves, and allowing them to be frustrated and even angry about the situation without taking it personally. (That is, as long as they're not directing negative emotions at you, which will only make everything worse!) Mental-health counseling may help as well.
What does crisis mode mean for you? How often do you have to be in crisis mode? What toll has it taken on you and others, and how have you dealt with it? Leave your comments below!
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