My years of caregiving have left me depressed and broke. How do I get my life back?

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Q: I've been caring for and living with my eldery mother since I got out of college. I can't get on with my life. I'm broke and depressed. I want my life back. Help!

A: Continuation of question: I'm newly 26, single, an only child and have been watching over my mom since January of '08. She's diabetic and due to complications with medicines she went into kidney and lung failure (considered a multi-organ failure patient). She was in 3 different hospitals around my area for close to 5 months.

We've been living together since after I got out of college. Broke college graduates need a little help sometimes. I had plans to move out and get my own place by 25. Obviously...that hasn't happened with all the medical issues. So now we're living together and I love my mom dearly...I just...I don't know how much more I can take without any support whats-so-ever. I really just have no clue what I'm doing.

Most times I feel like I'm drowning and people know but aren't throwing me a rope. Most of the people I thought were friends bailed at the first sign that my mom wouldn't be getting better in a week, so I've truly been doing this on my own. No friends. No family. Just typing this makes me feel like crying. I understand that there are people in this world living off of a $1 a day and that Im in a much better situation than them, but it doesn't make my situation any less than.

There are depression issues (both with my mother and myself - from this situation not a lifetime battle or anything). There are issues with her wanting to go back to work and me not knowing if she ever will (there's a deadline for that too...two more months and her job will officially let her go since it will have been a year since her last being there, so that = a TON of stress).

There is the HUGE issue of the fact that I'm 26 and feel 50. It's hard to be this young, with this much stress and pressure, living with my mom to help her with everything, no friends and definitely no love life. Half the time I feel as if my mom has given up on trying to get better. Her kidneys are doing well and her lungs are back in working order. She still has a trach in her throat and has no muscle in her body from being in a hospital bed for so long.

So to recap there are HUGE financial issues (don't know how I'm going to manage to pay any of the bills on top of my own bills and her pre-existing bills). I honestly don't know how I've lasted this long. There are EXTREME emotional issues (I find that I'm not the huggy person I used to be...besides other things and of course my mom has her own emotional stuff she's dealing with). Now things are also physical - meaning...I can't sleep, I'm overeating, my shoulders feel as if they're in a vice, etc. I'm just very lonely. Very sad. Very frustrated. Stressed. Scared. Etc. I'm no fun anymore. I don't have the money or the friends to go out and do fun things. I just want to be "me" again. I want my life back.

Please, please get yourself some help. There's a therapist in the seattle area that I can direct you to. Her Web site is www.therapyinseattle.com, so you may find her contact information there, as well. She may be able to help you. She's a caring person who has survived cancer and may have a way to help you for little or no charge (I don't know this).

But you need to get help for yourself. You can't do this at your age - shouldn't at any age. The therapist may be able to tell you who can help you free or for little charge, if she can't.

You also should talk with your local area agency on aging (for help with your mom). They can direct you to local resources. Your state human services can help direct you, as well. Find their Web site and you'll get phone numbers. You have an urgent situation and need guidance. Please take action.

Elder care author, columnist and speaker Carol Bradley Bursack is an AgingCare.com contributing editor and moderator of the AgingCare.com online caregiver support forums . Read her full biography

Carol Bradley Bursack

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Over the span of two decades, author, columnist, consultant and speaker Carol Bradley Bursack cared for a neighbor and six elderly family members. Her experiences inspired her to pen, "Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories," a portable support group book for caregivers.

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30 Comments

i know how you feel i felt so alone and depressed after my father passed ut i had my children and my husband to lift my spirits it was hard to go out and do things cause for 6 yrs i took care of my father with NO HELP from my siling the only help i got from them when they wanted to borrow money from my dad and then they would help for alittle bit..then after awhile i didnt hear from them for along time..so it was hard to get back into life after my father passing
THEY LIED TO YOU..if you are on the will why wpuld they tell you that...i dnt understand that no no u were screwed..you need to contest the wil,l how long has this been??? did this all happen this yr??? you need to get a lawyer you are entitiled if you have the will and NEVER SIGN anything unless you have a legit lawyer and sound like to me you didnt have one...when you get time read my story on here i was my father D.P.O.A and my family strip me cause they THOUGHT i spent my dads money unlawfully but i came out on the end and i didnt get not one LAWYER..didnt need one they tried not to give me anything but i had a copy of the will and thanks to my pastor of my church help me i recieved materialitic and i was the ONLY one recieved money and i came from a family of 12 ..not one got any money..so check out my story it will BLOW you away
I would seriously encourage you to get a good elder law attorney... I would seem to me that someone who is objective could sort this out for you. I am really sorry that this is happening to you... I do wish you the best! take care....