Care Giver Struggling Reaches Out – Real Advice Given02 Feb 2010, by Stress in
I have had my 83 year old mother living with me for 9 years and she is illiterate and has never learned the tools to get through life and so i find myself having to do everything for her …even her thinking. She is a demanding, stubborn hard to please woman and as I work full time i am finding life a real struggle. My husband has been pretty patient but he sometimes loses it.
I find i am always depressed, very angry, frustrated and at my wits end. I have tried to have a break from my mother and tried to put her in respite care for a few days but she has absolutely refused to go.
I have been on antidepressants for a few years but they don’t seem to work and as I am under quite a bit of pressure at work i feel like i am ready for a breakdown. I have had quite a few outbursts at work when i am challenged by my lazy male co worker who doesnit seem to cope well with the added pressure that we have been put under with our work.
I feel like running away from everything but I need to work for financial reasons as I have turned to gambling as an out and we have had to remortgage our home as a consequence of my actions. I feel very sorry that i have put my husband in this position but really was incapable of realizing the consequences of my actions at the time due to being depressed and the medication maybe numbing my feelings.
I am in a real mess and would appreciate any help from yourself.
Dear MB, (Hey, we share the same initials, how about that!)
Thank you for writing me and admitting your true feelings. So many people I have supported who are also caregivers struggle to reveal their real emotions. They become accustom to shoving down these feelings and then suffering in other areas of their life.
I share this with you not only to honor your courage but to also share with others the importance of sharing our true feelings. By allowing yourself to be vulnerable not only do you not have to suffer alone but neither do the thousands of caregivers who are also struggling. A message for all of us is that covering up your feelings only causes greater suffering.
Okay, now onto your challenge as a caregiver. The truth is, MB, you should feel as you stated “depressed, very angry, frustrated and at my wits end “ because how your life is set up right now is not working for you. You are struggling emotionally at that depth because it is at that depth that you need to take a hold of your life and create change.
What you have done is what society teaches us to do, react to our emotions on an ego level. The emotions feel overwhelming to us, we stuff them down and then we do crazy things to try to escape how we really feel. This is the reality, MB, of what has caused you to turn to gambling. You were looking for a magic cure all to take away the pain you are feeling.
The truth is there is no magic pill to take. The only way to remedy the situation is going to be through your hard work. I know the last thing you want is more hard after all you have on your plate. Let’s face it though, dealing with your feelings based on the ego has made your life worse, as you now have debt to deal with on top of care giving for your mother.
If you were to F.E.E.L., you would see that your anger, frustration and depression are due to you not owning your power completely in this situation. Now you have further given it away with gambling. To turn this around, first your inner work of not seeing yourself as a victim. I say this with great compassion because I feel like it is one of the most common ways we unknowingly self-sabotage and it is pretty easy to do. The truth is your reality is tough. Being a care giver takes immense amount of energy and if that energy is depleted in you, there won’t be any to give. Rather than be a victim of your circumstances, in which you feel helpless to create change, your feelings are telling you to own your power.
My sense is for you that this begins with creating greater personal boundaries. I intuitively feel that you are operating based on old roles where what your moms says go, as if you were still a young child. This is very common for women and their relationships with their mothers. As you age, your role and relationship with your parents needs to reflect who you are as an adult. Many parent-child relationships never mature and cause a lot of unnecessary ill-will, pain and struggle.
Besides your boundaries with your mother, my sense is that this is a problem with other people in your life as well, especially other family. Are you buying into being defined by how they perceive you? My sense is that you are and then your actions become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This is tough work and I don’t sugar coat it because I don’t feel that it is nice to mislead you. I want to give you the beginning steps as what you do have the power to take responsibility for in your life. As you do begin to take personal responsibility, you will find how these other pieces begin to fall into place. If you re-establish a relationship with your true self, which can be done by listening to the real message underneath your feelings, you will find the exact guidance you need to turn this situation around one step at a time. THIS WILL NOT BE A QUICK FIX. These changes will take some doing on your part, yet I know they will work. You are worth making this happen MB. You are worth making your life work for you. It can happen but you must find yourself worthy of taking such effort.
Thank you again MB for sharing your struggle and walking this path with me to live your life more emotionally conscious and well!