Not sure we needed research to tell us this but maybe it will awaken some compassion in others who haven’t walked down (yes DOWN, as in stumble, fall, get up, repeat) our path.
Caring for others ain’t good for your health. And if you fit certain profiles you’re at greater risk:
Participants with emerging chronic health problems experienced the biggest declines in health, with rates of hypertension, arthritis and rheumatism, digestive diseases, chronic lung and heart diseases more than doubling.
Being older, female, not receiving a pension, not feeling financially adequate and having depressive symptoms and functional limitations at the start were also associated with worse health among caregivers at the final follow-up.
I don’t have most of those factors working against me but stress about not feeling financially adequate is kicking my posterior. Well, that and turning 60. I get short of breath and feel overall weakness after bouts of anxiety – it’s like I can feel my own death settling in.
So, you know the drill. You go to a doctor or other professional or even a friend you perceive as wise and you lay it all out and the reply is,
Hey, take care of yourself.
Take time for you.
Exercise, diet, sleep.
And of course your anxiety goes back up because these are exactly the things that are getting wiped out of your life and why you asked for help in the first place.
I go to the Bible often because it’s not the pie in the sky that many assume it to be. Much of it is written to and for people caught in rotten situations. There’s precious little “here’s how to fix it” and much more empathy and simple encouragement to hang in there, because who you are and what you do has meaning. Here’s a good bit:
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:5-11)
Yes – there are wretched things happening to you and to many folks just like you.
No – it won’t go on forever.
Yes – There are evil voices trying to talk you into despair.
No – those voices aren’t the final say.
Yes – there is divine power on your side.
The Greek word translated cast (cast your burdens) is a verb associated with throwing loads on pack animals. Which is to say that when you pray – when you try to talk to the divine power about what you’re going through – you do NOT need to be elegant, gentle, proper, pious or whatever you think that talking to divine power entails.
Dump the load on God and insist – insist – that he carry what you can’t.
Did you catch the next line? God will because he cares for you.
God can be the caregiver to caregivers. Because the divine power does not get sick and die from taking care of us. God has no risk factors.