Self-confidence is a delicate thing. The number of batterings taken as caregivers, whether financial, in broken relationships, abandonment, isolation, result—no wonder—in many of us emerging from those years lacking self-confidence and self-esteem.

Some of us are more fragile than others, but that’s okay. We can get through this. The fallout may be related to caregiver guilt or just straight out mental and physical exhaustion.

Many of us gained weight during the tenure of caregiving. Myself included. Just being that heavy alone caused an internal battle of whether I should even think about venturing out into society at all. Similar radical changes in physical appearance, such as voluminous hair loss or worn-down facial features, might have an equally “anti-social” impact.

You may find it difficult to discovery that person you once were. It certainly was for me. But I was still in there! In fact I believe there is a new and improved version just waiting to burst out of all former caregivers! But first, you, yourself may need to address some of the other aftereffects, such as depression. That alone can be overshadowing the confidence you once had. I believe that by taking on your physical and mental health issues first, your self-confidence will start shining through. Naturally, there will be some of us that will have to work harder than others at regaining it.

The definitions of self-esteem may vary. However, they all seem to share one common trait: “a sense of worth as a human being.”

So never forget what you have accomplished as a caregiver. A surprisingly small segment of the population can handle the task that you have taken on. Many have tried and have had to walk away, some even running as fast as they possibly could.

Caregivers all belong to an elite group. Always be proud.

Caregivers are, none the less, notorious for having a negative dialogue going on inside of their heads. If that voice is putting you down or trying to convince you not to get yourself back out into the social world, use your outer voice instead. Again, tell yourself that you’re going to put on those better dress clothes and you’re going to leave the house looking sharp. Lift your spirits in any constructive way that you conceivably can. At this point in your life a refreshed outward appearance can help jump-start your inner wellbeing.

In other words, for all of us, I’ve found that in order to continue our healing process we sometimes have to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones. Don’t feel a need to give up your standard lifestyle. As your mentor, I just want you to expand on it to the point where it actually starts feeling like a lifestyle again. Get some fresh air!

Re-strengthen your inner core and always remember that you now have vastly improved knowledge and much more experience in caring for others. It’s time to direct some of this new-found expertise toward self-care.
Gary Joseph LeBlanc, CDCS
Director of Dementia Education
Dementia Spotlight Foundation