5 Things I Learned As a Caregiver About Caregiver Resentment

5 Things I Learned As a Caregiver About Caregiver Resentment


Charlotte Bayala

2 months ago at 8:14 PM

Being a caregiver can sometimes feel like you're the stage manager of a successful Broadway play. The actors get all of the attention, but the people behind the scenes are actually a big reason why the show is so successful. It's normal for you to feel resentment, and it's important for you to know you are not alone. Here are five tips for coping written by OneVillage community member and caregiver Charlotte Bayala.

I'll be honest, being a caregiver can sometimes feel like you're the stage manager of a successful Broadway play. The actors get all of the attention, but the people behind the scenes are actually a big reason why the show is so successful.

It’s normal for you to feel resentment on your caregiving journey. There will be times when you feel like your needs are being ignored, or people don’t understand what caregivers even do (spoiler alert: it's a whole lot).

There will be times when you find you resent being a caregiver, resent the concern people only show towards your loved one, and even resent the fact that you feel invisible. You might try to hide this emotion. You might feel like there is something wrong with you, or like you're a bad person, because you feel this way but aren’t the person that is sick.

I get it. When my husband was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer, I had issues with resentment. I loved how concerned people were about my husband, but I resented the fact that they didn’t seem to ever worry about me.

Here are five things I've learned from feeling resentment as a caregiver:

  1. Hiding your resentment makes it feel bigger than it is.

You don’t want to tell anyone about your resentment because you’re worried about being judged, but the more you keep it to yourself and try to hide it, the more it grows. This just creates a vicious cycle.

2. Just because you don’t have cancer doesn’t mean your needs and emotions aren’t valid.

Everyone has to live their own life the best that they can. Don’t compare yourself to the person you care for. Remember you are both two different people and if you are to care for them you need to have the energy to do so. In fact attending to your needs and emotions should be considered a requirement.

3. This isn’t what you expected your life would be like, so give yourself a chance to get used to this abrupt and unexpected change.

Cancer isn’t fair and neither is your life being turned upside down. Yes, you love the person you care for, but that doesn’t mean that life as a caregiver is easy. Give yourself a break and try your best not to judge the things you are feeling. Resentment is just one of the many strong emotions you will deal with, and you need to give yourself the space to process them.

4. Caregiving is hard and you feel like people don’t value your role as much as they should.

That is one big reason why you resent the care and concern given to your loved one. If people valued caregiving as they should, then they would be checking in with you too. So don’t put yourself down when resentment creeps in. It’s you reacting to feeling invisible sometimes and that doesn’t feel good to anyone.

5. Talk to someone or journal about it.

You have to voice your resentment. Talking to a friend or sharing to a support group can really help take the power out of the emotion you’re feeling. Just ask your friend if you can simply speak without needing anything fixed, if that is what you’d like. If you don’t feel you can be vulnerable in that way right now, write it in a journal, draw a doodle of how you feel, or sit in your car and yell it out. Once you get it out of your head and are able to see or hear it, it won’t feel as big as it does right now. Not sure where to start? Here is a list of great prompts you can follow.

I can’t say that I never feel resentment anymore. But over time, I've learned a few tools to use to help manage those feelings of resentment. 

Here are my top three tips on activities that can help you when resentment still manages to creep in:

  1. Ask for help. It will not only give you a cheerleader of your own, but will help someone close to you understand what you're going through. If your resentment is fueled by the feeling that you’re doing everything on your own, then ask people in your life for help with specific things. You don’t have to do it all. Remember, you have to care for yourself so you can be a caregiver for the long term. Being burnt out isn’t beneficial for you or the person you care for. Creating a support team of people that you can depend on is smart caregiving, not selfish.
  2. Take time out of your day to do something enjoyable for yourself. It’s easy to resent the attention your loved one gets because you're at the tipping point of being way too overwhelmed. Try doing at least one thing each day that is just for you. Try sitting in a quiet spot and enjoy a cup of coffee. Read some of your favorite book. Maybe there is a hobby you loved before you became a caregiver that you can bring back to your life. The less stressed and tired you are, the easier it will be to address strong emotions.
  3. Remember why you are a caregiver and come back to that any time you feel resentment creeping up.Always remember your 'why.' Write it on a note on your phone or somewhere you can see it in the house. It’ll help put things back into perspective.

There might still be times when all the attention and care my husband gets at an oncology appointment makes me resent the fact that what I do to support him between his six-month appointments isn’t acknowledged. It’s very short-lived. Like stubbing your toe in the middle of the night; it hurts deeply but disappears just as quickly as it showed up.

It’s ok to feel resentment. You’ve given up so much of your life for your loved one. Just know that you aren’t the only one that feels this way from time to time. You are strong, don't forget it.

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1 comment

Last activity by Anne Young

Anne Young

This was spot on


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