Iryna Ishchenko

Taking care of yourself first means so much more than self-care.

It means others are taken care of, too.

I am Iryna.

In my early thirties, I found myself being a caregiver to my terminally ill mother and a newborn child at the same time.

While my baby was growing, learning to walk and talk, and getting more independent, my mother was going in the opposite direction: she got paralyzed, needed assistance with her basic needs and her cognition was rapidly declining.

We lived on two continents and because I was her only daughter and her only caregiver I had to travel with my baby back and forth between Ukraine and California every 90 days. I didn’t have anyone to rely on and I didn’t think it could be any different.

I had many identities – a mom, a daughter, my mom’s caregiver, her nurse, her aid, a housekeeper, a long-distance wife, a friend, a grad student, a former colleague…

But I didn’t know who I was anymore. 

I lived the life of people around me, going with the motions from morning to night, doing what had to be done, and I felt dead inside.

I didn’t recognize my mom anymore. She used to be my best friend and my role model and all of a sudden she became a mean and aggressive manipulator who didn’t care about anyone but herself.

I didn’t understand what was happening to her and why and felt guilty for resenting and being angry towards her.

I felt guilty for my thoughts about her.

I felt guilty for not being the good daughter I thought I was and not being the mother I wanted to be.

All I wanted was to be left alone and hide under the blankets from everything.

I didn’t know where to go for help or what help I needed.

It took me years to become alive after my mom passed away.

While still grieving, still figuring out how to be a mom myself, and trying to save my marriage…

I had an AHA moment.

I realized my life was falling apart not because of my mom and my decision to provide her the best possible care at the end of her life.

It was because I was telling myself a story about how I was a victim of horrible life circumstances and I believed that story.


It was because I stepped into this role of a superhuman who could handle anything if I didn’t let myself feel what superhumans (in my imagination) were not supposed to feel.

I just had to be nice and happy with what I had and pretend I was living in a land of rainbows and unicorns where people didn’t have negative emotions.

Like a Barbieland. 

That discovery brought me to the question 

“How did I end up here???”

Finding the answer I also found the solution:

I can be the help I needed at the time when I didn’t know where to look for help.

Now I help other caregivers not to put their lives on hold and not to end up in that dark hole it took me years to get out of. 

I do this work because I love it.

My business is built on a love of people who care.

Nothing fires me up more than working with caregivers.

Seeing that change in posture and that spark in the eye when a client sees the possibility, the hope, and believes it’s possible makes me happy because one less person in the world will suffer the way I did.

It became my mission and my purpose to help caregivers thrive.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing else I’d rather do.

I can bring you back to life, but it’s not going to be an easy walk.

It requires all of you. Your willingness to question what you believe, to feel what you might not want to feel, and to take full responsibility for all of it. 

It requires radical self-love and self-forgiveness.

It can be uncomfortable.

It’s not for the faint of heart.

But it’s worth it.

And you can do it.

I will be by your side along the way.

In the end, here is what matters…

We don’t have to be superhumans.

We can be just humans with human emotions.

Letting ourselves be humans gets us through difficult times.

Being a human with human emotions makes us strong and resilient so that we can take care of the people we love.

It starts with us. 

What are you waiting for?

Say YES to you.