Self Care for Caregivers - Interview Transcript | – ARK Crystal

Self Care for Caregivers - Interview Transcript



Elle Cole Offers Self-Care Tools for Caregivers - Interview Transcript 

ARK - Oh, we're here, I don't want to say a mom, blogger. You are an advocate blogger. And you know the power of the fan behind you on everything you do. You're just amazing. You are you speak about taking care of your daughters who have ongoing health concerns. Could you go ahead and explain that to everyone who has it? Who's meeting you for the first time?

Elle Cole - Sure, sure. So I am a mom of twins. I have fraternal twins, who are now 13 years old. I have teenagers. I can't believe it. Yes. When my daughter, I had them they're fraternal. But when my daughters were born, we found out that one of them has a chronic genetic disorder, and that is sickle cell disease. She also at the age of six was diagnosed with type one diabetes. So she wears an insulin pump, and also a CGM. So for those who are familiar with the autoimmune immune disease, type one diabetes, a CGM is a continuous glucose monitor. So that means that all day we are trying to monitor her blood glucose levels, which keeps her alive. So it's definitely a lot to take on as a caregiver. But what I have done, I have just joined online with other families who are sharing their stories and their experiences. And that's what I do, I share our experiences, and I advocate for other families who are dealing with these type of illnesses and chronic conditions as a whole. I also have a homeschool podcast, where I talk about that journey, because the first seven years of their education, I homeschooled them. And so I think is really important for people who are interested in caregiving interested in wellness to know that even when you're taking care of somebody else, you have to take care of yourself, too. So I'm an entrepreneur on top of all of that, and a wife as well. And so it's not, it's not easy, but I've definitely been doing it and I love what I advise

ARK - you have for those of us that you know, because I'm a primary caregiver as well. But for the older members of my family, so um, you know, a lot of us are in that sandwich generation, you know, taking care of the parents, the grandparents, and or children or other members of our family, what kind of advice do you have for us to, to, to make sure we have a cup to pour from,

Elle Cole - I think, you know, you're talking about the older members of your family, and I'm the youngest of five, my mom is actually 84. So I know that side of it, too. And what I've learned is, I have to be honest, when I need time to breathe, I can't just act like I could just handle everything all at once. Because the truth is, I can't, as much as I try to schedule things. And I have a special watch that shows me alerts, you know, like, don't forget to give medication. So I have I use technology to help bridge those gaps. But even with all the technology, sometimes you still feel overwhelmed. And when I feel that way, I kind of just take a step back, and I let those around me know, I need a few minutes to breathe. And so when I talk about breathing, I'm literally talking about just that, taking a couple minutes to do some deep breaths. Because what happens is, no matter where you are that deep breathing from your diaphragm, if you take 10 deep breaths, it will help kind of refresh you in that moment. Because I don't know if everybody has been in a situation where you can feel the stress and the tension rising on the inside, you start getting hot, clammy. And when that happens, it happens to me too. I just take a few seconds to breathe deeply. And so I pause, and I just take those deep breaths from my stomach through my mouth. And I try that and that's really just one of the simplest things that you can do in the moment. In the moment. I'm trying to do something greater. I listened to music because it can actually improve my mood. So those are two things that I do that are free. Like it doesn't cost you anything. You know, and even if you're just kind of sitting around and you think of a joke in your mind, that's another thing that can improve a person's mood. So those are three free techniques that I use to kind of regain my strength, if I'm having a stressful time, which is kind of inevitable on some, you know, some days is not something that you have to deal with all the time. But there are times when it is like, there could be doctor's appointments, you know, trips, people, you have to explain things to, to health insurance, where you're on the phone with them for a long time. And, you know, just that deep breathing, you can do that when you're on the phone with them, you know, because you never know what other people are going through, you know, in the moment that you may be feeling some stress, but you never know the people, what the people that you're interacting with, what they're dealing with. And so that deep breath helps kind of regain your, your stress levels regain that tension that you feel, and kind of puts you at a balance state of mind. And I think that that's important.

ARK - That is one of the things that we always suggest, you know, we know we deal with people, you know, we, we, we report on stress all the time and how to take time out and one of the easiest things that everybody can do is just go okay. Okay, you know, just it breathing is free. And it's, it's easy to remember to do, but it's it's so magical, almost, it's like, okay, I'm here right now. And this is all going to be okay.

Elle Cole - Yeah, and you have to kind of mentally tell yourself that, that let me know, while you're breathing, you can also think about positive things, things that have gone right, you know, just those gratitude moments, because it's kind of training your mind to have a different perspective, even if you're still in that moment.

ARK - Right, right. And, you know, it's, especially when you first start with all of this, like taking care of somebody else, and dealing with doctors and dealing with appointments. And like you said, dealing with insurance. It's when you first started, it just feels so overwhelming, that it's hard to realize that this is all going to work out but it it takes a lot of time.

Elle Cole - And you can also ask for help. So I know everybody doesn't have a support group are, you know, other people in their circle. But there are even tools in your state sometimes that can offer help and offer assistance. So you know, once you regain your your strength to do something else, to maybe do a little research to find what's at your disposal. And if you are taking care of like older family members, there is usually a State Department in every single state that deals with family caregiving. And so if you go online and do a little research, you'll find what resources are available in your area. And that's something that's at every single one of our disposals. If we just have that put in that research, and look and see. And it may take calling, you know, a social services office, if you're, you know, running into some road roadblocks, but the help is out there. And sometimes we just have to ask for it.

ARK - You know, and I think a lot of people don't even know that there is something that will help them so they don't even bother looking. So the fact that you're telling us that yes, help help is there, you just have to find it is is really like it gives a moment of hope to a lot of people.

Elle Cole - Yeah. And so like we often think of social services dealing with like the foster care system dealing with adoptions and things like that, but they do so much more than that. And so it's kind of learning about resources that exist, even, you know, beyond what we're used to. And so the Social Services Department in every single state, they do have services for caregivers, and for those who are caring for elderly family members,

ARK - and they also help if you're the caregiver for children, correct.

Elle Cole - They do. Really, unfortunately, in America, everything is by you know, is different by state and city. So you kind of have to research what is available in your area. It's, it's, it's a little bit harder when you have a child with certain disabilities to find those services. I find that for an elderly parent, those services are much more transparent and easier to find services for kids. Sometimes you have to ask other people and they will tell you about those doors that are open. And again, you can call the numbers and find out but it is a little bit harder to find services for children. And you can also ask your doctors so if you see a specialist and you see certain healthcare professionals, they know about the resources that are out there. So don't be afraid, don't be ashamed to ask. Because these services were created to help make our lives easier

ARK - talking to the medical professionals is really helpful. But also, going online and finding a community that way. Seems to be really helpful. I know that, you know, I don't have a child that has sickle cell, but I have friends that have sickle cell, and I've been following you for a long time. And, and I was able to show them some things like give them a community by introducing them to you and your, your website and your social media. So finding community online is is another way of of building your own community, even if it's, it's virtual. Do you find that a lot because I know you deal with a lot of different communities that way.

Elle Cole - Yes, and I'm so glad that you brought that up. Because actually, the Facebook groups have been a lifesaver for me, I have no other family members with sickle cell disease. And learning more about the disease has really come from meeting people in different Facebook groups. And that's how I've gotten involved with different foundations, and really been able to be an active advocate in the space. And so we talked about like resources, often when you go in those groups, the people in the groups, someone knows about the resources that are out there. And also in type one diabetic groups, they'll tell you about the latest research that has been done. So I highly recommend, if you are interested in connecting with other people who understand what you're going through, I highly recommend the Facebook groups because you can the settings, you can adjust the settings so that you know you see a variety of content, or you can see how much you want to see that content. I know everybody is different. But the content and the information is there when you're ready for it. So you don't have to, you know, get those notifications in your you can adjust those settings. So it just depends on what you want. So I wanted to just let people know, Hey, you don't have to be overwhelmed by the different messages, because you can adjust the settings, but they are great tools to learn more about the latest, the latest research, the latest resources, and what is available to people and even opportunities to advocate yourself. So if that is something that people are interested in, that's a great place to start.

ARK - Fantastic. Yeah, those groups are, are a blessing for sure. I went in there, you know, when I had family members dealing with cancer, and just just knowing that someone else is dealing with something that you're dealing with. Even just reading through it was like, oh, okay, I'm not alone. And someone else is going through the same thing that I'm going through. So

Elle Cole - it's super helpful. Yes. And I think, you know, not feeling alone. You just brought that up. And I think that is key. Because sometimes all of the things that you're facing, it feels so isolating. Like, I can't believe I'm dealing with this, I'm surely I'm the only one dealing with it. And when you're in those groups, you quickly learn that other people are facing similar things. So I find it I find a sense of comfort in knowing that there are people out there that I'm not the only one that has these situations or these circumstances. So what you said is spot on.

ARK - Right, right. So you mentioned breathing, telling people that we need to take a break, which can be difficult in and of itself actually vocalizing the fact that, you know, I needed I need two seconds to myself, the breathing, the listening to music, whether things do you suggest for those of us that are primary caregivers that, that that to focus on ourselves and make sure that that were healthy as well.

Elle Cole - I think it's important to find a hobby that you enjoy something you enjoy, because I talked about the power of you know, laughing and telling yourself a joke, but all of those things kind of add endorphins. And so we want that so that we can boost our mood in a healthy way. And so with a hobby, it could be really anything that you enjoy. I know some you know for me, some of the things that come to mind is writing and journaling and meditating, exercising. Those are some of the things that I enjoy doing that really helped me feel like oh, even if I'm doing it alone or with a group of people. It's something I enjoy with my family. Together, sometimes we paint. My husband is an artist, my kids are artists. And sometimes we get together, we put up our easels. And we paint and, you know, it could be saying poetry acting out, you see a lot of people on Tik Tok. Now dance, something that you do for yourself, or you do with your family to kind of give you that you know, just a different type of experience so that you aren't always thinking about things that have to do that you have to do. So you have to do list aside, and you're focusing on something else. And I think that is really important to do that. If you're not an exercise person, I highly recommend finding at least some type of exercises you enjoy. So exercising isn't my super favorite thing to do. But there are some things that I do that are simple enough that I'm motivated to do them. So for me, that's taking a walk around my neighborhood, getting out in the fresh air. It is like so some people, they might go to the mall, but me taking a walk in my neighborhood is really that pick me up, that just takes me into a different type of frame of mind. It refreshes me, it rejuvenates me. And it gives me that shrimp to keep going. And it gives me an opportunity to kind of let my mind relax, because a lot of the things that I do require technology and just being on screen, and it gives me a chance to unplug. And and think not with anybody asking me anything, I don't take my phone, I'll keep it with me. But I don't like take phone calls while I'm going on that walk is really just that time to to walk. And while it's cold, I have an exercise bike in the house. And I I sometimes put on a funny movie, or you know, I don't, I'm often doing multiple things at once. And so putting on a movie while I'm biking gives me you know, a little entertainment as well as a time to exercise. So if it's depending on where people are, if you can go out and take a walk year round, do it, I highly recommend it. But you know, you find what you enjoy. There have been times when I went rollerblading. I'm not as of now, but I tried to do it here and there and also biking. So just find something that you enjoy, if you're a swimmer, that is excellent. A lot of places like recreational centers and the YMCA, they have classes. So like an aerobics class, take a class, a cooking class, a dance class, all kinds of classes. So I say do at least something for yourself, even if it's reading a book. So for me, I don't always have a lot of time to just pick up a book and read through it. So like while I'm washing dishes, I'll listen to an audio book, I've found some ways to kind of make it work, where I'm doing something that needs to be done. But I'm also you know, finding that enjoyment at the same time.

ARK - Fantastic. I know that, you know, when people start going through all of this, like the idea of having a hobby and time to yourself. You can feel guilty about it and thinking that No, I should be giving more because they need more. And that's what I'm here for. But the idea of taking, you know, just a few moments, even if it's just a half hour that you know, it's you're saying that get a hobby and I'm just sitting there going, oh my god, I can imagine, you know me the guilt that I would feel the first few times that I would did it would do it. But I know that my family doesn't want me to be burned out either.

Elle Cole - Right? Right. And I know for me, I come back happier. You know, and I think that that makes all the difference. You know, so if I'm in a better mood, those around me can sense that and it's better for them to so the the hobby I think you know, regardless of what it's some people like looking at pictures of cars, like you know, they're really internet researching it. That can be a hobby that you enjoy, no one gets to define what that is for you. You define it for yourself. The key though, that I must admit you do have to know yourself. Right so You know, I'm telling you things that work for me. But it's not so simple as making it a carbon copy and saying, Oh, well, I'm going to do exactly the same thing, because those things may not work for you. And so knowing what is healthy and what you like, what relaxes you, and kind of just taking that time to evaluate who you are, and who you want to be. And I think doing that has helped me kind of put the guilt aside. So I mentioned that my daughter has a genetic disorder, and for many people haven't a genetic disorder means you know, that you have a connection to that, you know, your child got the got the disorder from your genes, so half yours, and half, you know, your spouse are your partner. And so I think it's very important to, to have a healthy mindset around that. And so, you know, that could be talking to a therapist about the things that are associated with your feelings. And I definitely recommend that because it can be a weight. For me, though, I know that it's not a weight that I carry. And I don't carry the weight, because I have hope that she will, she will live and be healthy and be well taken care of. And I tried to help her understand what's happening in her body. And I tried to learn about it. And that has helped me not to have guilt around it. And so I know everybody is different. But even I There are times when I make time to talk to a therapist about you know, so so many things that are in my orbit and in my circle that I have to deal with. Sometimes I can't rationalize everything that's going on. And I have to consult a professional and there is no shame in that. That's something that should be done without guilt. Because really talking about it, you're able to have someone give you an objective view about what you're dealing with. And that's helpful. And I didn't feel guilty about the diagnosis. But sometimes I would feel guilty when I talked to when I spoke with my friends, because I would kind of dominate the conversation with what I was dealing with. And that was when the light bulb went off and said, You need to talk to a professional, because you also need to be there for your friends. And so that really helped me weigh and balance what I was dealing with a little bit better, and kind of have those conversations with someone who could help rather than just going to that one person or two people who I was just kind of outpouring, my heart, right, what is

ARK - needed better. So we have a hobby, we have our community, we're breathing, we're going for a walk, is there anything else that you would suggest that we do? So there

Elle Cole - is something that I think is huge in my life. And when people see me online, I'm smiling a lot. And I think that is because

ARK - it's always so great to see your face online, I see you and I'm like, I was so magical. And you are always smiling. But I know.

Elle Cole - And I would say that is due to the type of food I eat. Oh, eating healthy, fresh, whole foods makes a world of difference. And I know that getting healthy food is hard to prepare it for yourself. And so finding it can be like finding a service, you know, they now have food services that will do the shopping tell you the main view, all kinds of things. So that may be something that people consider, for me, I don't mind getting the food, I just have to kind of meal plan and, and make healthier choice choices. So by making those healthier choices, I feel better. And there have been times when you know, my daughter had so many doctor's appointments, or we had to sit at the hospital and we were eating junk food. And I knew it was weighing weighing me down, weighing her down weighing us down. And so I try not to bring junk food in my house. And so if I'm not buying it, I'm not tempted to eat it. So here's the truth. This is what happened. I like to be transparent and I like to be real. There was a time when and I know I'm not the only parent who does this but I will Buy like candy and snacks for myself and I will hide them from my kids. So I went like keep them in my car, and it was chocolate, I was buy these little chocolate bars, bars, and I would keep them in my car. And whenever I had a free moment by myself, I would eat them. Well, what happened is I got cavities. And it really started to, to mess with my health, I started to gain weight, and I just really started to feel unhealthy. And it was like, I just what I recognized is I just needed some time alone. It wasn't really about the candy itself, it was about taking that time alone. But if you, you know, if you're doing something unhealthy, it can have a trickle down effect, like it did with me. And I was like, Oh my gosh, sitting at the dentist for hours trying to get your teeth fix is not fun. It's not a fun thing. So I'm I'm not just suggesting it because it's like something I heard, this is real life. For me, this is how I'm really living. And having healthier food options has made a world of difference in my life. And so I make sure that I'm eating food that I enjoy, but that it looks alive, that it looks fresh. And that that keeps me smiling. I love good food. Like most people, when you have good fresh food, when you're making that a priority, it can also boost your mood, and make you feel so much better. And I feel like when I'm healthier, I'm able to

ARK - be better to you by caring for yourself on multiple levels whole, holistically, that you are a great example for those around you. But also, you're taking care of yourself.

Elle Cole - Yes, I'm trying because we you know, we're young. And as we grow, we start to feel different. And it's like, man, what's what's going on. And we started having a little ache start hearing like cracks and things and it's like, oh, you know, but when you do make healthier choices, and you're trying to, you know, exercise you're trying to eat right? You those, that aging process is more seamless, it's more fluid, and you don't feel like it's a strain on your life, like, Oh, I'm getting older, all these aches and pains. It's just like, oh, just as just another day. And you're able to look at life a little lighter, a little brighter, and a little better. So that's how I'm living.

ARK - It sounds fantastic. And it's great advice for all of us. You know, even if we're not taking care of other people, we keep we care for ourselves, and we are primary caregivers. And if we're as kind to ourselves and as generous to ourselves as we are to those around us. You know, like you said, the older we get, the more seamless it's going to be and not a chore. Well out, do you have anything else to add for what people should be doing in order to care for themselves? Well, I think besides

Elle Cole - that, I think if you you know you can't do all of them at once. Don't just be like they said, and I'm going to implement all of those right now. And then

ARK - you spend all your stuff yourself. And then you're like, Okay, there's that person at home that needs my attention.

Elle Cole - Yeah, so take it one step at a time. So what we've talked about today, choose one to start with. And then over time, if you want to add other things on, you can do that. But don't try to overwhelm yourself by just implementing everything all at once. Just start with one. And you you matter. So if you only have 15 minutes a day, or 10 minutes, take that time if you only have a few seconds, do your breathing. And so you evaluate what you have time for. And so you matter and you can make a difference by taking time to recognize what is your body telling you to do? Because your body lets you know,

ARK - you just have to listen. You just have to listen. That is absolutely beautiful. You know, I think a lot of us forget that we matter and you just saying those two simple words really like it hit me and I'm starting to cry but but it is like we matter and it's just remembering that that that's the truth and and that we're here for each other but also for ourselves.

Elle Cole - Yes, and you can go in the mirror and just look at yourself and say, I matter. You know it's it sounds so simple, but those positive words it can it can make or break your day. Because we are so overwhelmed. Sometimes we forget that we matter. And so, you know, people call it affirmations, if that is something that you can implement, that's something else that doesn't cost anything. So I think we've given so many different. I don't want to overwhelm people. No, no, yeah, all of these things are very simple. It, they don't cost money, a lot of them are free, you know, so it's not something that is going to break the bank, you can implement them. And so I think it's just making yourself a priority. And if you do it, now, you have more options than if life makes you do it later.

ARK - Right. Right. Exactly. You are just, you're so right about all of this. And I know that you've had years of practice of it, which is why we we asked you to you know, share your wealth of knowledge with everybody, you are an example of, of being true, that life isn't always rainbows, and you are honest about everything was so often and we all appreciate it. And it's just wonderful to watch you and have you share your journey with us. Well, thank

Elle Cole - you. pleasure and an honor to to speak with all of you. And I'm just enjoyed just having this time. So thank you so much.

ARK - So if people are interested in learning more about you, um, they can go to cleverly, is that correct? And there? Yeah, and there there, there are links to your podcast, which deals with homeschooling topics. Correct. And you have a co host. Yes. I want to say and also you can find your books that you've written that deal with a variety of topics. And on, there's a link on cleverly changing correct. And we'll also add the link on this video. So that anybody's interested, we'll have a link not only to the website, but also the podcast and also to all of your books.

Elle Cole - Yes. And one of the things that I have, when you go to the shop, we do sell like certain certain T shirts and things like that. And one of my T shirts says always clever, constantly changing. And that's been my motto from the beginning. You know, this, everything in our lives are always changing, nothing really stays the same. And so we want to be clever about that. So always clever, constantly, constantly changing.

ARK - I love it. I love it. And we just roll with it. It's fantastic. Thank you so much for taking your time with me. Like I said, I've been a fan since I met you. You know, two days ago, no, like more than a decade ago. So just knowing that you are just like I said, you're like a shining beacon. I don't want to put pressure on you. But you are and I love everything good that's been happening with you. And I know you made it happen. So thank you so much.

Elle Cole - Thank you so much. I have I'm so happy that we met. And it's so great to have wonderful people in our lives. And I think, you know, that makes a world of difference to have positive people that you know, so I think you and I thank you for this opportunity.


Elle Cole Cleverly Changing


Thank you, again, to Elle Cole for taking the time to share her insight and experiences with us for ARK Crystal Wellness Week 2022.