Tasheena Christensen - Tasheenachristensen@hotmail.com
1.) Tell me a little about you.
I’m a long time resident of Lake Chelan. I was born at Lake Chelan Community Hospital, attended pre-k through high school in the Chelan School District and now I currently live with my dad as his caregiver in my childhood home.
2.) What is the most poignant moment or time in your life where you showed resilience?
I was living in Portland, OR in 2012 when my mom suffered a stroke. I moved back to Chelan to help my parents- my mom was no longer able to work and my dad is disabled from a work-related injury in the 90s. I became their caregiver, but most of the work was taking care of my mother. My mom’s health declined quickly. She began to go into kidney failure, lost her eyesight, lost her ability to walk and eventually dementia set in. I suddenly went from the child to the adult. I was responsible for getting her meals, helping her bathe, giving her medications, dressing her and handling all of her doctor’s visits. I spent many nights in the ER worrying that this time, would be her last time. The worst part was the dementia. Her personality changed from the funny, caring mom I had known to a person that was combative, demanding and often times, verbally abusive. As is common with dementia, she would sometimes have moments of clarity. Those moments are so precious to me. In June of 2016 she was sent home and signed up hospice care- we lost her 10 days later.
3. How did that moment shape your life?
For the first year following my mom’s death, I had a hard time with my grief. It wasn’t what I thought grief would be like. I was so physically and emotionally exhausted that I couldn’t really miss her for an entire year, and that brought on immense guilt. After the first anniversary of her death, I was finally able to separate the person I had cared for for 4 years from the mother I knew and I finally was hit with the hard moment of needing my mom. Taking care of my mom in that state changed our relationship in ways that were detrimental to my mental health. After a year I decided to seek therapy and it completely changed me. I learned how much I can go through without breaking. I also learned how to self care and protect myself from being in that kind of situation again.
4.) What tips do you have for those in need of hope?
Do not take this on by yourself. Seek help from wherever you can get it- family members, friends, church members. Do not take on 24/7 care, you need to have boundaries and respite from your family member. My close knit group of friends were such a sanctuary for me when I needed to vent, cry or even just laugh. Do not be a matyr. Ask for help and practice self care.