"How do you do it? I mean you've been doing it six years! I'm only a few months in and I'm going crazy, crazy!" That was the anguished cry from a friend and fellow spousal caregiver, as described in WSA founder Maggie Strong's book, "Mainstay: for the Well Spouse of the Chronically Ill". The woman's husband had just recently been diagnosed with kidney failure.
Members have heard this story, or one like it, so many times. Being a spousal caregiver can be a full-time, 24/7 activity, as an illness progresses, and a person can be floundering for a long time, or even burnt out, trying to fix everything for their partner.
WSA offers support and encouragement from others who have "been there, done that," to help the new member regain balance in their caregiving life.
One of the best ways the group does this is through its newsletter, Mainstay, which got its start in 1988, as the fruit of the WSA's first conference at Pendle Hill, PA.
A quarterly publication for years, in 2012 it was promoted to bimonthly. Right from the start Mainstay felt like a family newsletter -- it's packed with member stories, poems, book reviews, respite and conference event articles, letters and comments that reflect the spousal caregiver bond that so many members feel through their involvement with the organization.