Carers, family and friends

The emotional aspects of being a carer

Everyone's experience is different, but there are some feelings which most carers say they have felt at some point...

Resentment

It's natural to feel resentful about the changes to your life. Especially during the times that the person you are caring for may seem moody, selfish or withdrawn. They may have become more irritable since they became ill, and may not always seem to appreciate what you are doing for them. You would have to be superhuman not to be affected by this.

The important thing is not to let your resentment fester - talk about it. Either to the person you are caring for (choose a "good" time, don't wait for an argument) or to someone else that you trust.

Anxiety

You may feel that you don't know enough about what's happening, or that you don't have any control over it. The person you are caring for is probably anxious too. You might be "protecting one another" by not talking about these feelings when you could actually be sharing the worry.

Depression

You are bound to have times when you feel low. But if you are always feeling low, or regularly experience feelings of panic and despair, you could be depressed. If so, you need to get help and should speak to your Unit counsellor or social worker.

Anger

You may have to cope with feeling angry - not just towards the illness but also towards the person you are caring for. This is by no means unusual, but you do need to find a way of dealing with your anger before it builds up too much. It might help to talk to someone else who has been through the same experience, such as a member of a local carers' group. Or again, to see a counsellor.

Isolation

It's all too easy for carers to focus so much on supporting the renal patient that they tend to "sideline" other activities, interests and people. Once you get into this habit, it's hard to break it. And other people may eventually stop making approaches to you if you are always rejecting their offers of help or company.

If you find you are losing touch with your interests and friends, do make an effort to change things. Arrange to meet up with an old friend or take up an activity that you used to enjoy. Or perhaps you could contact a local carers' group - it can help to share your experiences with other people in the same situation.

Guilt

We all feel sometimes that we could have done more, or done something better, and feel guilty about it. The person you are caring for may also feel guilty, perhaps about being a "burden" or causing disruption. It helps to get these feelings out in the open. You may find that you don't feel as guilty once you have spoken freely about your feelings.

You might also find it helpful to look at The Emotional Effects of Kidney Failure - some of the feelings described may apply to you as well as to the person you are caring for.

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