Being My Husband’s Caretaker Has Me Angry and Bitter. Help!

My husband is blind as a result of diabetes and is NOT following doctors' orders. Since I am his caretaker now because of his disability, I am extremely angry and bitter. I need someone to help me because I'm on the verge of breakdown. I need help, please. And because we are no longer working, our finances cannot afford us to pay for counseling. But I NEED some tolerance training or compassion training to be a caretaker for my husband. —Cranky Caretaker
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Dear Cranky Caretaker,

The intensity of your feelings is coming through loud and clear. And it is understandable. Being a full-time caretaker can be all-consuming and exhausting. You never get to leave your job. Doctors and nurses who work with high-needs populations get to go home at the end of their shifts, and they aren’t personally connected to their patients. Caretakers of family don’t have either of those luxuries, and it can take a significant toll on their health and well-being.

Before you can focus on being a more tolerant or compassionate caretaker to your husband, I think it might be wise to focus on taking care of yourself. Are you engaging in any self-care practices? Even simple practices such as going for walks, taking hot baths, reading a good book, or spending time with friends might allow you to cool off and help recharge you. Are any other family members, relatives, or friends in position to pitch in from time to time and give you a much-needed break?

It sounds like you are dealing with a lot of anger toward your husband since he played a significant role in creating the situation you are both forced to live with now. You are absolutely entitled to your feelings of anger. Having said that, it seems like they are eating you up and morphing into bitterness. This does not feel good. You don’t deserve that.

Working toward forgiveness may help in coping with this. People tend to think that forgiveness is for other people (the people who are being forgiven), but it is often more for the person who is doing the forgiving. It is certainly a process, but beginning the process might alleviate some of the anger and bitterness you are experiencing. You deserve that relief.

It sounds like you need more support than you are getting. There are a lot of caretaker support groups out there, and some of them are free. Ask your husband’s medical providers if they know of any local support groups you can join. You can also go to the American Diabetes Association website to get connected to an office in your community that will likely have caretaker resources available.

The bottom line is this: The better you are able to take care of yourself, the better you will be able to take care of your husband, and the more comfortable you will be while you are doing it.

Best wishes,
Sarah

Sarah Noel
Sarah Noel, MS, LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in working with people who are struggling through depression, anxiety, trauma, and major life transitions. She approaches her work from a person-centered perspective, always acknowledging the people she works with as experts on themselves. She is honored and humbled on a daily basis to be able to partner with people at such critical points in their unique journeys.
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  • TINA

    TINA

    December 27th, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    I do so hope that you have friends or family members who could help you out some; otherwise I am afraid that this is going to drive a real wedge between the two of you that could be irreparable. I know that when we get married we say this is for better or for worse, but I will be honest in saying that I am pretty sure I would not be cut out for being a caregiver nor would my husband ever want me to have to be!
    I understand that financially the two of you may not be able to afford help, so that is when you have to start talking with other family members to determine who may be willing or able to step in and help you out with some of this load that you currently carry on your own.

  • Delilah

    Delilah

    December 29th, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    Is there any way possible that you could take some time out that is just for you? I think that this would possibly do you a world of good.

  • mickie h

    mickie h

    December 29th, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    I completely understand how it is hard to not be angry if he isn’t doing anything that he could to help himself. That can be very frustrating and I think that it would make me bitter too.

  • Seth

    Seth

    December 30th, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    You may be completely surprised at how much freer you may feel if you could just find a way to release much of that anger that you are feeling right now and learn to forgive and move on. I know that this is easy for me to say as I am not currently in your situation but I do know that letting go of much of that anger would probably help you to feel like a new person if there was just some way that you could get to that point. I wish you the best of luck because I know how that anger and hurt can be like an albatross around your neck. You are marvelous for doing what you do and I hope that there is a way that you can find peace with that.

  • deedra

    deedra

    December 31st, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    how about online counseling? think he may go for that?

  • Robert

    Robert

    January 2nd, 2015 at 7:05 AM

    I have seen others go through very similar situations and all I can say is that this is something that can very easily wear you down if you don’t take the time to step away from it any time you have the chance. And don’t think that this means that I am advocating shirking responsibility because I know that this is your husband and that you would never do that. But what I am saying is that it is very easy to become burned out when you have this much pressure placed on you, and the only way that you will ever be able to continue will be if you also at the same time take care of yourself.

  • Flo

    Flo

    January 3rd, 2015 at 7:24 AM

    I am so sorry that you are experiencing this because I know that it is terribly frustrating to watch someone that you love throw away their quality of life just because they were too, who knows what, to take care of things when they had the opportunity to do so. Being diabetic can be terrible and maybe there wasn’t much that he could have done to prevent things from going this far, but maybe there was something that he could have done and so I understand why there is the animosity there.

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