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Looking after ourselves

Senior Contributor

I'm pushed to my limit! What can I do?

One of the toughest things about being a carer is feeling like you've reached your limit. 

Often it can get to a point where you feel like you've given so much, that you're not sure you have anything left to give. As this article from ARAFMI aptly explains:

"Many carers will have become caught up in exhausting scenarios which can leave them feeling mentally battered, confused and possibly very angry, and a pattern of rescuing, responding to guilt (either from within or imposed), and being taken on yet another emotional roller coaster ride can become the distressing and unsatisfactory norm." 

Is this something that you can relate too?  Establishing boundaries - drawing limits - can be helpful. As @Tatsinda and mentioned in this post here, it has helped her caring for husband. In fact, boundaries as essential for our well-being. Without them, people can form toxic behaviours in relationships.

This article explains 10 ways to to build healthy boundaries.

What do you do when you're pushed to your limit?  @mountain @3forme @annie1268 @Louise Care to share your experiences and thoughts on what you can do when you've reached your limit?


Re: I pushed to my limit! What can I do?

Hi Cherry Bomb,

It was good to read the links, especially the ARAFEMI article. Setting boundaries, such a difficult and tangled issue! In our case, our daughter was 16 when she became very unwell with psychosis. She had always been an independant girl. In the early days she needed constant care as her risk level was high and her thought processess were disrupted. She was clearly unwell and we naturally fell into our roles of care giver and care recipient.

Things became tricky as her recovery progressed and we had to keep reassessing our new roles and new boundaries. Not to mention dealing with a teenager.

Guilt and wanting to rescue can be a huge burden and can get in the way of boundaries every time. Even going for a 10 minute walk was a trial. I always thought "what if I don't give her what she wants and she becomes unwell again?". I also felt really mean when I said no to her.

What I found to be useful was to have a united front with the rest of the family. It helps to set boundaries as a group - less lonely and less guilt than doing it on your own. We recruited Uncles and Nannas in our boundary setting, not always successful there though! We also set realistic boundaries that we knew we would be able to stick to, being aware that she needed some help to survive.

It has been a long and difficult journey setting boundaries, but a worthwhile one. Our daughter knows she can always come to us for emotional support and advice. We also will help her out in an emergency, and help her if she becomes unwell again.

Saying no to her has allowed her to make her own mistakes (so hard to watch!) and she has matured in to a lovely young woman. She now has a job and is getting her old sense of independance back. In our case setting boundaries has taught her to stand on her own feet

Re: I pushed to my limit! What can I do?

Thanks @CherryBomb for sharing that article. I am currently in the process of setting new expectations with my partner so I was happy to read that deliberately distancing yourself from someone with whom you've had a more intimate relationship can be stressful for a lot of people - it's not just that I'm weak! I'm suffering a lot of self-imposed guilt so it was a timely reminder that I am not the only person who can help my partner get well.
And reading and posting on here is a 'distracting activity' so I can definitely vouch for the efficacy of that advice! I'd also second @3forme 's suggestion of involving extended family if possible - at least then they better understand why you are doing what you're doing, and I find this helps me weed out the negative thoughts that every one must think I'm a horrible person for treating my partner this way. And write it down if you can - this has helped me be reassured that my partner remembers what we agreed.
Also keep living! Keep doing fun things, even if it's a 10 minute stroll in the sun. I've caught myself feeling like I can't enjoy the book I'm reading or the movie I'm watching because 'everything is so serious between us at the moment', sort of like I'm not allowing myself to enjoy things because my partner is not enjoying things because of my boundaries. I have to have a stern word to myself to push that guilt down but eventually it goes and I do feel better for having done whatever fun thing I was just castigating myself for Smiley Happy

Re: I pushed to my limit! What can I do?

Thanks for sharing your experiences @3forme and @Purplewife 

It sounds like a tough road, but perservance prevails. Setting boundaries is hard work, and it's something that is continual.

It means changing the way we do things, and change isn't easy! But in this is the realisation things can change if we change. Smiley Happy

Re: I'm pushed to my limit! What can I do?

Hi Cheerybomb,

Haven't popped in here for awhile due to funnily enough to boundary setting and making time for myself and establishing a new way of living.   I can relate to every word in your email.  Great article by the way and I have printed it off to keep reminding myself to do this.

The last 3 mths have been a rough ride with great highs and great lows.  One of the lows was my nephew who was suffering a MI decided that it was time to go and was successful.  Also part of the lows have been due to not being well from multiple ticks bites and having an serve allergic reaction and then getting the flu straight after weeks of recovery.  At the same time this was also part of the highs as I needed too take great care of myself.  It meant I had to ask myself what do I need right now to recover both on a physical and emotional level.  Not being well enough to do things also meant I had time to ponder on what I needed and wanted for my life which is something that my nephews passing made me do.

In answer to your question what to do when pushed to the limit all I can think to say is STOP.  I created the below for myself  it may be of help to others or they can create their own meaning or find a word that works for them and then put a meaning to each letter.  I have this printed on a sheet of paper that I decorated and I have it stuck to the back of my bedroom door so I see it of a morning and make a point of reading it.

S = slow down, silence.  I found I was always keeping myself busy, busy, busy so that I didn't have time to ask myself inconvenient questions or face the truth of what was happening and how I felt.  For me silence and quiet is also an important part of what I need as my x needs sound be it the radio or music to distract himself.  I get up well before him and use this time to enjoy the silence and in enjoying this I also slow down.

T = make time for me today, talk. I give myself at least half an hour a day that is just for me.  Sometimes it is more but I have set this as my minimum. Without setting a minimum I discovered I didn't give myself this time.  I don't have a set time for "me" time, for others a set time might work better. Then I stick to this, if my ex wants something or wants to talk to me and it is not urgent during this time I say to him "give me  ____ mins and I will be available".   My x loved nothing more than interrupting my me time with insignificant things so I have learnt not to let him know this is "me" time.  For others letting the other party know might work better for them.  I am very firm with my boundary on this so when my x chose to interrupt known me time then there was a consequence for it eg - he lost us time.  Also "me" time doesn't always mean that I am relaxing, sometimes it is doing something like oiling my furniture or tiding up something that has been annoying me or planting some seedlings.  For me there is great pleasure seeing my timber gleam or the annoying thing gone, what I am clear about is that it is for my enjoyment so once it is complete I will stand back and look at and enjoy what I have done.  If there is a hint of a must do chore in it then I won't do it during "me" time.  The talk part also is important this can also be emailing here or a friend.  I found that either talking with good friends, my counsellor or simply writing out my frustration here helped immensely.  You need to get it out.  What I found is that when I was at my limit it was also a time that I hadn't talked /written to anyone.

O = opportunities, open, out.  When pushed to the limit I sometimes missed the opportunity to laugh and be silly or simply spend time with friends and family as I thought I would not be good company or I thought I was too tired and stressed to have fun. Take the opportunity don't let it pass by as this is the very thing that will help you come back from the limit.  Being open for me means being willing to let go, to see things differently, do things differently or learning to do things differently and open to opportunities.  Also part of the open thing I remind myself of an old saying "What is the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result".  Out is a reminder to go out see friends/family/counsellor, walk, ride a bike, drive the car somewhere different, sit out side, speak out, let the pain, frustration, sadness, happiness, joy out.

P = pleasure, pain, persistence, patience, practice, proud. Take pleasure in something during my day, a tree, a cloud, the way my furniture gleams.  Just find one thing to enjoy in that day.  Pain, acknowledge it! If it is there pushing it aside will do no good so apply S,T,O too it and persist with them.  Patience is a reminder to be kind to myself I need to remember that I am not always going to be open and take opportunities, it will take practice.  Be proud of myself for the effort I am making.




Re: I'm pushed to my limit! What can I do?


Thanks for this post.


You having this on paper for your self is fantastic, you sound like your on the right track to better health- i think the hardest part most times is the time in between. Knowing what you have to do to get from A to B to feel better. but the time in between feels like forever.


How does one get better from tick bites? Antibiotics? It sounds horrible.


I say pat your self on the back for the distance you have traveled so far. Give your self a treat if your able to. Sorry to read about your nephew too- these sorts of events are so emotional- i have experienced too many suicides of people i know- its very heavy.



Re: I'm pushed to my limit! What can I do?

Hi @mountain 

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, and your health issues. Smiley Happy

I'm very grateful of the fact that despite all that you're going through, you have come on here to share some really valuable advice. I love your 'STOP' mnemonic. Thank you.

It's really wonderful because you tailor it yourself. It got me thinking about how I could use it to. I came up with this:


Sleep: get back to basics, and get rest. .

Time-out: Similar to what you wrote, take time to do things I enjoy. For me it's yoga in the mornings, sometimes it's only for 5 minutes other times is 90 depending on how much time I have/

Out: Get it out, and open up to friends and family. Seek support and don't isolate myself

Patience: Practice patience with knowing that situations change. If I'm going through a rough time, I find it helpful to remind myself that it will soon pass. 

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