It’s OK, to Not be OK

The last few weeks have been nothing short of stress-laden and just simply crazy.

I am tired, anxious, constantly on edge, exhausted, drained and just plain lost, at times.

caregiver burnout, caregiver, depression, anxiet

My grad studies are suffering, writing, blogging, interacting and networking with people seems to have become this massive chore that casts a dark shadow over the small things I do seem to accomplish. What really irritates me is that I truly enjoy my graduate studies, but I don’t seem to be able to keep up with anything I am supposed to be doing (even though, somehow I have managed to do so in the last few weeks). It has taken me almost an entire week to write 3 blog posts, of which 2 were less 300 words!

On top of that, the VA decided that they have been interpreting the National Caregiver Program incorrectly this whole time and in the process I have now been deemed ineligible for the program. This means that the stipend that was supposed to be there to help me while I try to get my shit together and find a way to juggle this whole full-time caregiving thing for my husband (who hasn’t been able to work in over 7 years, mind you) and almost no work experience (mainly because I have been my husband’s full-time caregiver for the last 8+ years) is GONE!

They deemed me ineligible.

The kicker? Basically all the things that make up my caregiver duties don’t count as caregiver duties for the VA! Things like driving, cooking, physical support when bathing or stopping a fall, or catching my husband when he has a seizure so he doesn’t hit his head and sustain anymore injuries, and let’s not get started on emotional and psychological support. Having to drive 1  1/2 hours to Portland, because the VA expects my husband to show up, but doesn’t consider his PTSD/Anxiety/Panic attacks that get triggered when he has to sit in a vehicle for longer than 15 minutes, drive downtown Portland via a highway with a gazillion-and-one cars and the occasional abandoned mattress or loads of trash on the side of the road.

Can you say flashback-central? I mean, it’s not like my husband’s injuries were obtained by an IED explosion or anything. And that IED probably wasn’t buried under a pile of trash or dirt on the side of the road. And I am fairly certain that my husband is just honky-dory about this part of his life.

Can you feel my sarcasm?

I could go on and on about this topic, but at times the VA just doesn’t seem to even deserve the air surrounding me.

Nothing has changed since 6 months ago, when they evaluated us to see if we still qualified since we moved from one area of the state to another. As a matter of fact, things seemed to have gotten worse for him! If it wasn’t for me, my husband would probably live with other family members; hence, he would always have someone around him to make sure his shit is taken care of!

Then there is Elijah.

Elijah, although he’s been doing better in the last few days, has been expressing his frustration with pure anger. He has his amazingly bright and brilliant moments. Those moment make up for all the not-so-great ones; but boy, am I tired!

And let’s not even get started on my house!

My house is a complete mess. Yes, I just admitted to the world that my house is a complete mess.

Here is a glimpse at my very long To-Do list:

  • 4 (probably 5 by now) loads of laundry
  • Vacuum rooms (I haven’t been able to do this in almost a week and normally do this every other day!)
  • 2 more homework assignments (I mean, a few pages worth of research paper and a statistical measures assignment.)
  • Update everyone’s medication list
  • Wash dishes (I normally don’t go to bed without washing all dishes, but I confess that hasn’t happened in a while!)
  • Dust every room (We live in wine country, which means agriculture, which in turn means dust...a lot of dust!)
  • Update family calendar with all appointments and meetings
  • Don’t lose my shit about this whole miscarriage thing
  • Clip and organize coupons
  • Update budget
  • Work on our backyard
  • Find a job!

And the list just seems to go on and on.

I feel like a hamster on a wheel – constantly running, but not going anywhere.

I feel like everyone expects me to be OK and continue to do the things I’ve done for so long without having any issues. But I’m tired. Almost every day someone asks me if I am OK.

What is OK?

What does it mean to be OK?

The definition of OK is: fairly good, acceptable, or not ill, not unhappy.

I am NOT OK.

I’m tired.

I’m exhausted.

I’m stressed.

I’m extremely anxious.

All I see is babies and pregnant women all around me; while I am trying to keep it together for everyone.

Yet, here I am, feeling obligated to be happy for other women in our family who continue to be blessed with motherhood.

I worry…constantly! – about Elijah’s health and social well-being, my husband’s health, stability, finances, organization, dinner, our puppies and just about everything else under the sun.

I’m trying to keep up with life.

And things just seem to keep piling up with no end in sight.

So when someone asks me if I am OK, I would really love to just tell them that:

I am NOT OK!

But I won’t.


Because from here on out, I will try my best to accept that I’m not OK; and work on finding peace within myself.

That is the only way, I will be able to continue my role(s) as caregiver, advocate, mother, wife, blogger, student and whatever other role I happen to take on along the road.

So, if any of this sounds even remotely familiar to you; I would like to tell you this:

It’s OK, not to be OK.

What is not OK though, is giving up and allowing things you cannot control to slowly break you down from the inside.

Caregiver burnout is one of the most exhausting things I have ever experienced. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance the average age of a military caregiver is below 30 years and military caregivers actually stay in this on average for more than 10 years.

Regardless of whether you are a military caregiver or any other caregiver, it can be an exhausting ride. And the fact that many of us have additional roles we have to fill, can make things even more overwhelming. However, there are some steps we can take to try to prevent, or lessen the impact, of a caregiver burnout. (Check out my 8 Tips to avoid Caregiver Burnout)

Find ways to treat yourself and accept that you may also experience times when you don’t feel 100%, and that is OK!

What do you do when things start to pile up and there seems to be no end in sight?  Please feel free to share your stories.

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Disclaimer: Everything I share is solely based on my personal experience and is for informational purposes only. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please view my disclosure policy.


  1. martha jean pfeifer says:

    Let the V.A. pay for a home health aid. They will do light cleaning and such. Then you can pick off some other things on the list. I don’t understand why some insurances allow family members to paid caregivers and others not, but take advantage of every service the V.A. has. Your husband earned it!

    • Alisha says:

      Thanks so much for your input. We have been working on getting services set up for my husband; but it hasn’t been the easiest thus far. Denial after denial, but his PCP is 100% behind us and has advocated for him. We have finally managed to get home health to be approved for Physical Therapy. So, that’s a start. =) I’m optimistic, but know it’s not going to be an easy fight.

  2. martha jean pfeifer says:

    One hell of a journey, and people like us should be supported, not stressed out by the treatments the decotors prescribe.

  3. martha pfeifer says:

    I salute you! Caring for someone 24/7 is a difficult undertaking. I too cared for a loved one and know how unsupported the medical establishment can be, I think the medial profession has assumed the attitude that this is weird, and question a families motives to care for them at home instead of warehousing them I some facility. My advice is to reach out to neighbors and friends for help. Often times that don’t know of the struggles a family caregiver goes through. Maybe, if we band and work together we can accomplish 100 times more than any government agency can do for us. We won’t need as many social workers budding their heads where it is not always welcome. I advocate for adding do not institutionalize to Care Directives. What I really want to say is God bless you for all that you do!

    • Alisha says:


      I really appreciate your candid response. It can be extremely disappointing and frustrating when dealing with different organizations or government agencies. At first, I felt this great sense of relief when I found out about different programs the VA was offering, for example. But once I started to try and immerse myself in these programs and get things going for my husband’s treatment and therapy, it just seemed to become more of a pain and stressor than anything else. I’ve come to a point that allows me to say “if works, great! If not, keep going.”

  4. Miranda says:

    You are so right! Going on when you feel like giving up shows determination and strength. Even though, when you feel weakest is when a breakthrough is usually coming. The house, clothes, and messes will still be there; take care of your family first.. Living with and or caring for someone with a disability is very hard. Many hugs and much love to you!

    • Alisha says:


      Thank you for those kind words.
      It has taken me quite some time to realize that a spotless house isn’t what they need. Although, I must say that I am still struggling with this; as it seems like keeping our home clean is the only thing I am able to control. It is a journey though!

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