I admit it. Caregiving overwhelmed me. Four years of responding to one crisis after another broke me. It convinced me that I’d never be happy or even have a good night’s sleep again. I lost any hope of having my own family, home, career or relationships.
It was an awful feeling. But I found healthy ways to get through it and I want to help other caregivers do the same. That’s why I founded the Kadamba Tree Foundation.
From Suffering …
I’ve been a caregiver for both of my parents. I’ve never bemoaned the fact that I ended up in that role. But I did reach a point where I couldn’t associate the experience with anything other than suffering. Caregiving was strictly about my parents’ suffering … my suffering … my job and relationships suffering.
Caregiving left me with a very heavy heart.
So I searched for people and things to help pull me out of the suffering. I tried a grief counselor, two life coaches, and yoga, just to name a few. Everything had its own value and made me feel better for a while. But something was still amiss.
Then one day I wound up in India looking at a wooden necklace. I’ll explain how I got to India some other time. But for now, just let me tell you about this necklace.
It wasn’t particularly suited to my taste, but somehow it ended up in my hand. Then I read the story on the tag attached to it:
“This piece of hand crafted jewelry is made from the wood of the Kadamba Tree … Kadamba Tree is associated in Sanskrit Literature with monsoons. It is said to bloom only when it hears the roar of thunder clouds.”
“That’s me!” I thought. For the first time in years, I could genuinely imagine caregiving having a positive influence on my life and on others.
To Blossoming …
Now I’m not saying that a necklace instantly cured my depression. But the story behind it did give me a new reference point for my caregiving experience. Years of living in constant crisis mode traumatized me. But finding a reference point rooted in something other than suffering helped me heal.
The story of a tree not only withstanding a storm, but also blossoming during it, helped me see how caregiving had strengthened me. In time, I even discovered how caregiving has helped me cultivate the potential to make a positive impact on the world around me.
I had a lot of healing to do. So my journey didn’t end in India. But stumbling upon that necklace helped set me on my course.
Weathering the Storms
Our mission is to help caregivers and other growth minded men and women find empowerment in their experiences. Sometimes we focus so much on life’s challenges -be they caregiving, work or other responsibilities- that we lose sight of our strengths and potentials.
It’s hard to get through a severe storm without getting wet. Or tossed around. Maybe even broken up a bit.
But if we tend to our roots with appropriate self-care practices, we can discover our strength in the midst of the storm. Sometimes we just need a new reference point to help the blossoming begin.
If you’d like to learn more about self-care practices help to you better manage stress, send us a message via our contact form.
Karen is a Certified Program Leader for the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving’s Caring for Me, Caring for You Program and a Master Trainer for RCI’s Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s Health (REACH) program. These evidence- backed programs offer education and support for family caregivers.