I was watching 'Call the Midwife' this week, when I saw a touching depiction of an elderly couple. The husband was ill in bed, and his wife had been nursing him. It was evident how close they were and the bond they'd formed over many decades of being together. As the programme progressed, it became clear that the wife had beast cancer, and had been hiding it from everyone so that her husband would still get all the attention and care, and so that she wouldn't have to leave him. Eventually she was persuaded to go to hospital and be treated, and we saw them reunited at last.
It made me think about how easy it is to put other people's needs before ours, and how we can get caught up in providing a role for someone else, whilst neglecting our own needs. The truth is we can best help others when we are firmly centered within ourselves. When we understand our wants and needs and take really good care of ourselves we can bring a compassionate wisdom to our relationships. Otherwise we end up being helpful for no one, including ourselves. It's sensible of airlines, I think, to advise that if you have young children you need to put your own oxygen mask on first, before attending to your children. You need to be reliable and ok, so that they can depend on you.
So if you are in a caring role for someone you love (or indeed if it's a paid role) then do consider your own needs, and take time out for yourself. Everyone will benefit in the long run.
Sue Lewis is a therapist at The Banbury Therapy Centre. You can go to her website by following this link www.suelewis.com