Susanne White is a caregiver, the founder of Caregiver Warrior an author and speaker. We had the opportunity to interview Susanne about her caregiving journey and what led her to creating Caregiver Warrior.
Can you tell us about how you became a caregiver?
I am an unexpected caregiver. It all started when my dad got so sick while on an airplane he had to be escorted off in a wheelchair. It turns out, my dad had been diagnosed with walking pneumonia. And come to find out, he was trying to care for my mother who began showing signs of dementia while our parents had been dealing with and hiding her symptoms for some time. It was only when my dad got sick that we realized they might need our help. When my dad recovered from pneumonia, I asked him if he wanted my help and he said yes immediately. That hit me hard because we had no idea what was going on. From then on I began my caregiving journey. I lived in New York and worked full time. My parents lived 1.5 hours away and I made the drive on the weekends to be there for them. As things escalated, I took more time off to care for them. Being there for my parents in their last years was such a sweet time. Even through all the stress, I made myself stop and enjoy my time with them. After my parents, I cared for a different family member for about 5 years and now I am currently facilitating care for another family member.
Can you tell us about Caregiver Warrior and why did you create it?
I created Caregiver Warrior while caring for my parents. I wanted to create a place for caregivers to be able to talk, connect, share mistakes (a lot of them) and also ways to survive…something I was searching for but had no luck finding. At the beginning of my caregiving journey I felt miserable. I was spending the last days with my parents so I wanted to figure out a way to make myself feel completely awake for this moment and this journey. I needed a place to go to connect with others who were in my situation. I also formed this group called Caregiver Cowgirls. Every Sunday morning we would ride and talk about our caregiving journey. We would share tips and just cry and laugh together. It was a group of women who all knew what each other were going through. And my horse, Scooby, was so good for me. He was so therapeutic. When my dad passed away, Scooby laid his head on my shoulders for 2-minutes straight…it was like he knew.
If there are any caregivers who are looking for a community full of support, understanding, advice and resources, Caregiver Warrior is a great place to come.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at the beginning of your caregiving journey?
Knowing the emotional toll or emotional state that you’re in is everything. You have to be in tune with yourself, to know what you need. That includes being honest with yourself about what you’re feeling…the guilt, the fear, the anger, the resentment, the exhaustion and the shame. It is okay to not be okay. Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. You have to be honest with yourself to help yourself.
What are some self-care tips that you would give to any new caregivers?
Give yourself a break and don’t do it all at once. Adjust, reach out and don’t do it alone. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to fix everyone. You don’t have to have all the answers. You’ll figure it out. You’ll get through it and you’ll look back at this and see it as a blessing. You’ll see the gifts of it.
Do you have anything else that you would like to share?
My website: https://www.caregiverwarrior.com/
Facebook and Instagram: @caregiverwarrior
I am writing a book and it will be coming out this year, before 2022!
We loved hearing Susanne’s story and her self-care tips. We cannot wait for her book to come out!Share this post: