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Ask Elizabeth: Caring for a Disabled Child

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Ask Elizabeth is a service from Saint Elizabeth, a national health care organization and award-winning not-for-profit, providing home and community care to Canadians for over a century. Ask Elizabeth does not offer legal guidance, nor does it answer questions about personal health issues. Readers are welcome to ask about topics ranging from caring for a loved one to managing your own well-being.
Have a question? Get in touch here.

Question -- I quit my job to take care of my disabled daughter. She is the joy of my life but at times I feel overwhelmed and incredibly stressed by the responsibilities and challenges I face every day. Lately it's taken a different turn, and I feel unable to handle anything at all. I feel like a failure and unable to be the mom my daughter needs. What should I do?

Answer -- Caring for your daughter will not come without a level of guilt, frustration, loneliness and sadness. It can also be a deeply rewarding experience. You, and the many caregivers across the country, need to know there is somewhere you can turn for emotional support and guidance when dealing with the ups and downs.

Crisis Lines are available and free-of-charge across Canada, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They provide professional support to caregivers and individuals, and offer a place to call when a person isn't sure where to turn or just needs someone to talk to.

Calling a Crisis Line can be a difficult step. The word "crisis" can sound scary, and you may not relate to the term, yet the people who run Crisis Lines believe that no problem is too big or too small. At Saint Elizabeth, our own crisis staff have talked to caregivers on a range of topics, from listening about daily challenges and frustrations, to providing guidance on specific and delicate situations.

When you call a Crisis Line you:
• Only have to talk about things with which you are comfortable.
• Can ask questions and find out what help is available.
• Do not have to give your name, and you can hang up at any time.
• Can request to talk to someone face-to-face in your home or community.

The Canadian Mental Health Association is a great resource that can help you source a crisis line your area.

Remember, you do not have to understand your feelings or why you are calling. Call a Crisis Line to connect to a trained professional who is there to be compassionate, understand your situation and offer referrals to helpful community services or put you in touch with immediate support.