New Hope of Indiana | Shifting My Script
For over forty years, New Hope of Indiana has been committed to supporting individuals and families, encouraging them to live their most independent, fulfilling lives. Through services for individuals with disabilities, counseling for families in the child welfare system and advocacy efforts, New Hope of Indiana is making an impact in our communities every day.
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Shifting My Script

25 Feb Shifting My Script

By Denise Caudill Irons, NHI Parent and Board Member

Without looking beyond the title, I recently enrolled in a webinar on self-care. At the time, I assumed it focused on helping my daughter become more independent with her self-care, which was not the case. The discussion was for the self-care of caregivers. Honestly, my attention to this topic is non-existent. Although I have no problems advocating for my daughter, I am at a loss at advocating for my own needs.

Most of the self-care topics were what I expected. However, I was unprepared when the focus changed to examining our inner voice and what we tell ourselves. I began to explore the perceptions that I have about being my daughter’s caregiver. “What do I believe, why do I believe it, and is it true?” Again, I find myself tangled in a story of my own making that is neither accurate nor helpful. I realize that through harmful self-talk, I am brutally hurting my mental and physical health. I cannot imagine saying these negative comments to any other person, so why am I allowing that voice to be so cruel and demeaning to me?

After reflecting, I realize that I do not know how to ask for help when caring for my daughter. Because I stay home while my husband works, I believe that I should have to take care of everything relating to her care and the household. Some days are so overwhelming that I am paralyzed from doing anything beyond getting her to school and possibly unloading the dishwasher. Although my daughter is at school for 7 hours, it is not a true break. The anxiety and worry never stops. If she is having a few bad days in a row, I find it hard to function. I worry that she may start regressing, that her medication needs to be adjusted, that I allowed her to eat too much sugar, or that she didn’t get enough rest, and the concerns grow out of control. The inner voice bellows that if I were a better mother, I could have prevented these problems or at least fixed them quickly. As I write this, I am aware of how ridiculous that sounds, but it doesn’t stop the voice from repeating it again and again.

Because I believe that it is solely my responsibility to take care of my daughter, I rarely schedule or attend events in the evenings or on weekends. Even though her dad is home during these times, I am reluctant to ask him to help. Again, the inner voice tells me that I don’t have the right to do so. I am the stay-at-home parent. Years of listening to these thoughts have made them easily believed and accepted as true.

Had I not participated in the self-care webinar, I wouldn’t have stopped to examine my self-talk and the detrimental effects it is having on my well-being. I asked myself why the pressure seems to be more now than when she was younger. I discovered that for me, the worries are compounded daily; I never release them nor get a break from them. Some days it feels as though I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. It is easy to say that I need to advocate for my needs and to be kinder and more compassionate with myself. But years of unconstructive conditioning is not easy to overcome. I need to rewrite the narrative that is on a continuous loop in my thoughts. The negative comments must be replaced with supportive and loving affirmations. I am only now starting to be mindful of this need to change. I have been told that being aware of the problem is the first step.

Rewriting my script won’t happen overnight, but at least it has a healthier, new beginning.

1Comment
  • Julie Carmichael
    Posted at 01:42h, 28 February Reply

    Such a well written piece. I am a friend of NHI, but not a parent or caregiver to a person with a disability so I can’t begin to imagine what your days are like. However, anyone who could write such a thoughtful and self-reflective piece can only be a wonderful mother. I love the picture as well. The love between you is abundantly clear. Best of luck rewriting your internal script!

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