I cannot say enough how important it is to make sure you are taking care of yourself. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re writing journals, practicing yoga, reading daily affirmations, going for walks, eating right, or any of those other things that we call self-care. Many people have difficulties completing daily self-care and creating new routines because there isn’t time for it when we have our child in the hospital. Our downtime becomes our sleep time. This is entirely normal.
However, you can do those essential things, and you need to ensure that your mental health is not compromised. You are in a traumatic situation and likely to come out with depression, anxiety, or PTSD. I suggest against only relying just on your partner, your child, or other children for support. I recommend going out of your comfort zone and depending on a trained individual to help you.
Several agencies utilize mental health support via instruments such as Zoom technology. I, personally, do not suggest using text. However, if it comes to that and you need to text, do it. Campaign One At A Time’s Facebook group, Moms Tribe, has a nontherapeutic group where the mothers get together on Facebook and discuss things bothering them. A therapist does not host it, but it’s a place where they can confide in one another. There are groups in most hospitals. If you’re a father reading this and you can’t join a mom’s group, I understand, and that can be frustrating. The number of resources out there for fathers is limited. A father’s first reach might be the hospital, asking if they know anything or anybody for resources. Also, seeking private clinicians might be an excellent resource for male caregivers.
The first thing you want to make sure of when you sit down in the office with the clinician is, can they help you? If a clinician doesn’t vibe with you in the first or second meeting, try someone else, they are trained not to take it personally. If you have an individual that just sits and listens, and that’s okay with you, then fine. But if you want somebody that’s going to advise you, listen to you, and give you tools, I suggest you ask in advance if they have that ability. This one hour a week or every other week is doable because it can be in the comfort of your own space within a hospital, home, or an outside office. I highly suggest it.
You deserve attention during this time. Everything you’re going through is not your fault; it is not your partner’s fault; it is not your child’s fault. It is not anyone’s fault. It is your responsibility as an adult and as a caregiver to ensure that your mental health is a top priority so that you can take care of your child.
I wish somebody said this to me, and that’s why I’m saying it to you. I didn’t take advantage of these resources for years so, it took me five years to process and find myself. I had to discover my new self, new normal; who I can be, what I can do, what I am capable of, etc.… I feel like it would have taken a lot less time with the help of mental health professionals. Just remember you are worthy, and even though you are strong because you have to be right now, you can be strong enough for yourself. I was once in your shoes, and as I said, I wish somebody had said this to me.