I looked up and met his kindly eyes. I had been avoiding them as I sat down, not sure what I would find.
“How are you?”
“Where shall we start?”
“How about the changes since last time.”
“Well, how is it that he lost weight with all the chemotherapy and the same amount of weight he lost, I gained.”
“Somehow I didn’t think that’d get by you, but the scales don’t exactly lie do they?”
He didn’t say anything. I think he knew that was a sensitive subject for me.
“The chemotherapy has made him very tired and he sleeps a lot—I mean A LOT.”
“Not well. Ever since his second round of chemotherapy…”
“How’s his energy level?”
“That’s one area we match on!!”
“I’m not thinking that’s something we should celebrate.”
“No, and I don’t. I miss my usual go, go, go, can do anything. Between caring for him and losing two employees and having to pick up the extra work from them, I don’t remember the last time I’ve been so utterly exhausted. I know that’s an overused word, but I don’t have a better word to describe it.”
Tears started to leak out of the corners of my eyes. That was the last thing I wanted, in my doctor’s office of all places.
“I didn’t mean to complain. I’m sorry.”
“You weren’t complaining. I asked. This is called a ‘Check-Up’ and if you recall, when I saw you last, at the start of this downhill slide, I said if things didn’t improve, we could be looking at hospitalizing you!”
By now I averted his gaze. I remembered that conversation well—I had hoped he had forgotten. Clearly he hadn’t.
“We often underestimate the toll it takes on the caregiver. Sure, you didn’t take the chemotherapy, but in some respects that would have been the easier part. We tend to pamper the patient and load up the caregiver with everything else. The extra physical demands, mental demands, and emotional demands. And in your case, you had the extra demands at work too. A week “off” here or there isn’t enough.”
My mind went back over the past year. It had been hard physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually. I wanted to be there to support, but even despite my want-to, it was hard nonetheless.
While in some respects I feel like my body has betrayed me and let me down, I have to give it grace because I’ve demanded a great deal from it. I’ve pushed it to extremes and then expected it to give even more, because the demands around me didn’t stop.
It makes me grateful that as my comforter, the Holy Spirit doesn’t wear out or wear down! Even now, in my weakness, He is my strength. When I have nothing left to give, He promises that His grace is sufficient for me. When my nights are tearful because the stresses are greater than the answers, He reminds me that joy comes in the morning. When my mind races, searching for answers, He encourages me to be still and know that HE is God.
The hardest parts of being the caregiver, at least for me, have been knowing when to stop and rest, when to ask God and others for help, and recognizing that we weren’t meant to carry it all. Yes, we are called to share one another’s burdens, but Christ was the only one who was ever meant to carry them. He promised us, in all our frailties, that His yoke was easy and His burden light.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
The key is that He first says “Come to me…” He wants to be our caregiver, even as we care for others. Will you let Him do that for you?
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: http://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.