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Firsthand Account of a Caregiver’s Journaling Journey
By Lori Cavallo
My story is all too familiar to StrokeSmart™ readers. I received a call late one evening telling me that my mother was in intensive care, having survived a stroke. The lives of my entire family changed in an instant.
I took on the role of resident caregiver with no experience, little training and lots of love. Taking care of Mom became my priority. My own needs somehow drifted far down the list of daily “to dos.” To family and friends it appeared that I was Wonder Woman. I gladly took on the challenge to build a happy home where Mom could live out her days in comfort and joy, surrounded by loved ones.
On the inside though, I was slowly losing my identity. I gradually grew more and more depressed. I had days when I felt hopeless—as though my needs would never be met again. I felt my patience shorten and was concerned that my caregiving for Mom was suffering. I then turned to my therapist at The Center for Journal Therapy for help. She suggested using my journal to manage the daily stresses of caregiving and develop strategies to incorporate self care into my daily routine.
I learned 18 different techniques through the Journal to the Self® teachings. Some of the methods I practiced regularly included:
Morning 5 Minute Sprints helped me prepare for the day ahead.
Dialoguing allowed me to vent my frustrations at the stroke that had drastically changed our lives.
Lists of 100 and Clustering helped me manage the many appointments and tasks involved in caring for a stroke survivor.
Captured Moments were a wonderful way to document funny, happy and lighter moments of our 8-year journey.
Inner Wisdom and Perspectives sessions gave me the patience and solutions I needed to make it through my daily challenges.
Through the journaling process I also learned the skills to solve problems on my own. Gradually my life and outlook improved. I found ways to make time for myself and realized that self care was not selfish, but actually necessary to help me have the energy and ability to take care of Mom. I credit journaling for helping make the last few years of our lives together truly blessed.
Mom passed away in July, 2009. Once again I found salvation in my journal. Reminiscent of when Mom had her stroke, my life changed the instant she passed. My days went from running at 100 miles an hour to standing still. Not sure what to do with myself, the answer came during a morning writing session: I should help caregivers who are struggling in their role. I built a website carepartnersresource.com to help caregivers navigate their way through their daily challenges. I also became certified as a Journal Therapy Instructor and teach Journal to the Self®. I offer classes both in person and on my website. I hope to help caregivers easily find their journal to have a more satisfying caregiving experience.
Lori Cavallo founded CarePartnersResource.com, a website that focuses on the needs of caregivers by offering quick reference tips and Journal to the Self classes. She also speaks to caregivers on the importance of self care.
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