Sanibonani Bosisi!! (Hello sisters in siSwati!!) This post is for all my ladies who are caregivers. We’re the backbone of our families, and we need to take care of ourselves so that we can continue to do what’s necessary, even when it feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day.
It’s essential to find ways to be able to recharge your batteries. Having a tribe around you will help you feel less isolated and more connected.
I know how hard it can be at times, but I want you always to remember that nobody said this journey would be easy! That being said, this post will list four reasons why having a tribe of supporters is incredibly meaningful for caregivers.
It’s a common misconception that being a caregiver is easy and stress-free. The vast majority of caregivers report experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions at least twice monthly, with about 15% reporting these feelings 14 days out of the month!
Moreover, over half (53%) said their poor emotional state makes it difficult for them to provide care properly. According to the Caregiver Action Network as much as 70% exhibit symptoms consistent with clinical depression.
Clinical depression is only one of the medical problems that caregivers are at risk for developing. Sleep deprivation, unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, and even drug use (including prescription medication) can manifest into negative health consequences like heart disease and stroke.
However, research shows support groups provide a space where non-judgemental emotional support is cultivated. These groups also help reduce anxiety, help caregivers reduce depression, stress, anxiety, social isolation.
Overall, support groups improve quality of life and offer a sense of control over your lives, hence the importance of a tribe. It’s so very beneficial to be surrounded by others who understand what you’re going through.
Unity and togetherness are fundamental in the lives of caregivers.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines unity as
1a: the quality or state of not being multiple: ONENESS
2a: a condition of harmony: ACCORD
Also, unity is a common topic in the Bible, and while Psalm 133 is one of the shortest chapters in the Book of Psalms, it is one of the most beautiful and impactful descriptions of Christian Unity.
I really like how the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) puts it:
“How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!”
Kindred. Kindred is defined as an adjective
1: of a similar nature or character : LIKE a kindred spirit
2: of the same ancestry
And as a noun 1. an individual with the same beliefs, attitudes, or feelings as oneself.
And as family caregivers and former family caregivers, that’s what we are. Kindred spirits unified. A community. A tribe.
Here are 4 reasons why a tribe is a vibe for caregivers:
1. We feel an immediate comfort around each other.
When you meet someone who has been in your shoes, there is an instant connection. It’s like a mutual understanding that can only be gained through the trials and tribulations of being a caregiver to another human life.
2. We are like-minded and share similar perspectives.
We talk respite, chux, briefs, all things caregiving, but only someone in this role can understand this caregiver talk. I said something about respite to my father, and he was like, “what’s that?” On the other hand, a fellow caregiver will know what it is and why it is needed, no questions asked!! LOL.
3. We can see ourselves through each other’s eyes.
We are often reminded of our resilience and strength when listening to the stories of our kindred caregivers. We get so caught up in the minutia of caregiving that we sometimes lose ourselves and often forget the power and tenacity that we have.
4. We provide support for each other.
When we unite, we create strong communities. Black women are often underrepresented in the caregiving space, and support groups like The Binti Circle are working to shift that narrative.
The Binti Circle provides a platform for black female caregivers to vent, share, obtain resources, and bond. It consists of women in all stages of their lives and caregiving journeys.
Our circles are a fusion of free-style dialogue and structured workshops featuring black female field experts.
Our inaugural circle is accessible virtually and locally, and many of our members range from ages 29-65. With this multigenerational model, everyone can receive support on some level.
The Binti Circle is ready to receive you as a member! All that’s left for you to do is sign up. Join us online or at our first in-person meeting this month.
If you would like to join our tribe, sign up here.