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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Dealing With a Sick Family Member From the Sidelines

My dad was admitted for emergency dialysis just weeks before Christmas. On top of that, my mom has been dealing with my 92-year-old grandmother in the throes of dementia. And now she has fallen and hurt herself enough times that somebody has to always be up there with her at her place in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, I’m just trying to find a job while surviving the semester. Scratch that. Surviving. Between finding a job and not being able to do much otherwise, it’s pretty much all I can do.

So, when I’m not watching TV with my dad or studying while he works on photos he’s shot between dialysis days on the weekends and such, I’m really just trying to survive if not simply stay sane.

Even if you don’t have somebody on dialysis, maybe you’re dealing with a sick, older parent or just a loved one who seems to think that you’re the answer to all their problems regardless of the fact that you’re not. I’m 27, and when my grandma was here with us for a month back in August, I had an anxiety breakdown when she fell in the bathroom. This was because I didn’t know what to do in a life like this and thought that this was going to be my life forever. We decided to move her back home and fix some things for that to happen; that was before my dad started dialysis.

Here are some tips on if you’re in a similar boat.

  1. Get out of the house.

Even if it’s just to a local coffee shop for a few hours. For me, I take a day out of the week to focus on certain aspects of job hunting, and after a trip to the gym, I find a library I can go to and study at that’s close enough for me to walk or bus to.

I love nothing more than staying in, and so I actually cannot wait to get back home after a few hours of that! It really helps clear out the cobwebs of crazy in your head just to take a breath and step back into society like that. Just find a place with Wi-Fi where you can focus on your work or read! I also recently rejoined a writer’s group that meets weekly and does dinners once a month. Just find ways to do more of what you like and figure ways to expand them socially. Even if it feels weird being around people for whatever reason, doing stuff like this really helps, especially emotionally and mentally if they’re enough of your kind of people.

  1. It’s okay to be selfish.

With stuff like this going on, it’s easy to feel like taking care of just yourself is selfish. But that’s the point of self-care: to escape the crazy and remember this is your life too. Make sure you’re taking care of what you need to in your classes. For me the feeling of getting a better grade out of all this is enough to tide me over between things, a wave of normalcy I can ride from one week to the next just enough to keep me going. Join a gym or go to the one at the school. Working out is not just beneficial in so many ways, but it’s a really good way not to scream and let out some stress in a productive way.

  1. Remember that whatever is happening now is not your life forever.

The thing about living with anything like the above mentioned, especially if you have any anxiety, is that it’s easy to get lost in a downward spiral. It’s easy to think this is the rest of your life, whatever problems with sick family members you may have. But as long as you’re still breathing, time’s still passing. Even if it’s not what you expected your life to be, so long as you focus on that which you need to, from grades, to work, to just getting stuff done in general and not putting your life on hold, you’ll get to where you want to be.