Facing Futility

The task of caregiving can be draining. At times, it leads to feelings of despondency. One daughter describes how the futility of her caring for her chronically sick, disabled mother precipitated a major depressive episode.

"She's not improving. No matter what I do or how well I do it, my efforts are wasted. It hurts seeing my Mom getting worse. I'm tortured, I could not put things right."

It happens. This feeling of futility. That despite your best efforts to be helpful, in spite of even the desire of one you're caring to get well, he or she may remain sick.

A sense of futility can lead a person to lose freshness. Innocence. Compassion. And eventually, one's identity as a genuine helper.

We can all understand that it can be beyond our means to help a person heal or get better. We simply need to carry more realistic expectations of what is within our human capacities.

Yet such realization does not protect us from thoughts like, "She should work hard her self as I do taking care of her," "She must appreciate my efforts," or "I must be doing something wrong here."

As a therapist, I sometimes feel that. I just cannot get through to some people when they resist, put up with games, defensive reactions, and stubbornness. Part of it, because of my own human limits.

Still I've to face reality. My sense of futility, if it happens. I still have to deal with the disease states of the mind or emotions of those I try to help. I need to be rational in knowing my capacities and not take things personally.

Acceptance. That's another key in facing futility. When you resist the reality of a bad situation, you add another layer of suffering in your mind.

I'm reminded of a Mom I spoke to yesterday who struggled caring for her autistic teenage son. She's worrying, depressing, or guilting her self into a solution!

We all need a decluttetered brain, a calm spirit, to handle bad situations.

Also, it is never unusual for us to encounter a power greater than we are capable of seeing or doing.