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Meet Maggie, mother and caregiver to Coco, who's living with cystic fibrosis (CF). Maggie shares some of her personal experience caring for a child with CF, how it has affected her life, and some of the tips that have helped her manage day-to-day stress and anxiety.

The story below is based on Maggie's personal experience raising a child with CF and should not be considered medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your mental health, please contact a medical professional.

Caring for yourself

Part 1: Caring for Yourself When You Are a CF Caregiver

Life can be challenging when you start a new family and sometimes even more so if you have a child with special needs. For me, going through a divorce when my children were little was very tough. Eventually, I was diagnosed with both anxiety and depression that worsened when my beloved daughter Coco was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at only 2 ½ years old.

 

Looking back, I now see that over the years, as a parent of a child with CF, I've adopted a handful of habits that have helped to keep me on my feet, fight caregiver stress, and even prevent burnout. So, I've decided to share with other parents and caregivers of loved ones with CF what has worked best for me:

 

Remember-to take care of others, we must start by taking care of ourselves. Thus, seeking counseling and getting the appropriate medication has always been at the top of my list.

 

In my case, therapy and medication for anxiety and depression were temporary, yet both gave me the strength I needed to return to my happier and more productive self. Talk to your doctor about what may be right for you.

 

Another thing that I found useful was to have my vitamin levels checked; some levels were very low. I worked with my doctor to create a plan for adding vitamins to my daily routine and it really helped to improve how I was feeling.

 

Exercising is another thing that helps me cope with the ups and downs of being a caregiver. I enrolled in a Zumba class at a local gym, and it has made a huge difference in helping me deal with anxiety. The energetic Latin rhythms combined with the dance moves really lifted my mood!

I used to go three times a week, but after COVID I joined an online yoga class instead, which has been very relaxing.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of Maggie's story in the next CF Insider!