DEAR ABBY: I'm a 56-year-old, married, 24/7 caregiver. My husband is terminally ill. When he was diagnosed, all I could think about was what can I do to make this as pleasant and comfortable as possible for my husband and best friend. I have devoted my energy to giving him the best home care I possibly can. It's far more important to utilize my energy taking care of the love of my life than anything else, and I have put myself on the back burner.
We live a very isolated life. We didn't socialize, mainly because I'm a longtime loner and somewhat shy. My husband never had close friends. Basically, I'm alone, with all of my family living out of state and no friends or relatives nearby. Abby, I am scared. I'm filled with anxiety and hopelessness every day. I can't let my husband see these dark feelings, so I put on a happy face so I won't place any unneeded stress on him. How do I continue to keep up this facade? -- ALONE AND SCARED IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR ALONE AND SCARED: Please accept my deepest sympathy for what you and your beloved husband are going through. It is very important that you recognize that in order to give him the best care possible, it's crucial you take care of yourself.
Ask your husband's doctor if there is an organization that can offer support and information about his illness. Most of them have support groups and chat options for caregivers -- and being able to communicate with others would be beneficial for you.
Since you have no friend or relatives close by, you should also ask if there is respite care available. If you take advantage of it occasionally, it might give you time to recharge and lessen your anxiety. Please consider it. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.