Approaching burnout and racked with guilt at 33.

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I feel like I need help. Not financial help. Not emotional help. Like tangible actionable help. I’m overwhelmed. I’m drowning. I feel guilty. I feel resentful. I feel like giving up. To say I was underprepared by the overwhelming nature of what caretaking is and how much it takes out of you is an understatement. I thought it would be easier – manageable even. I thought I’d have more help. I don’t know what I thought, I just knew that I had to take my dad in – it was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do for my mom as well.

I feel like nothing is going to save me from the inevitable fallout. I feel that in trying to juggle the relationships around me they are instead all starting to fail. I am constantly worried about everyone and their moods and what’s on their plates and not trying to push anyone all at the expense of myself. I feel like my girlfrien is stressed, overwhelmed at not having a partner and a relationship anymore but rather living in what may be the expected reality of a married woman after 40 years. We both work full time and I try to be conscientious of her needs and her own stresses that have nothing to do with our home life. Adding to that however is the reality that our home life further compounds any other stress at any given time.

My mom is stressed. She is also diabetic with high blood pressure in her 60s and has become increasingly inactive, withdrawn to her room, and less reliable as a resource for help. I have to constantly remind myself that she is here with us for an entirely separate circumstance than my father, who is turning 88, and that they are divorced and had been living separately until now for 15+ years. Little things she used to be open to doing more regularly she is seemingly no longer open to doing. After our last blowup and how that affected me I am hesitant to ask her to do anything beyond what I feel she is willingly self-motivated to do – which isn’t much. I’m frustrated and burdened by the fact that she, unlike my dad, is mobile and independently able to do things but financially tied and reliant on me to do most things for her and/or in the very least in my company.

My dad on the other hand is financially independent and contributes to his room and board but in the realest sense of becoming a ‘caretaker’ requires assistance with everything else. His medical appointments are getting longer and more frequent. I spend hours each week sorting out his medications, contacting doctors, facilitating all aspects of his medical care – all aside from the time missed at work to accompany him to appointments and lab draws and to make sure that he is both receiving adequate care and asking/retaining the information we need to manage him at home.

Most nights I want to go home after work and immediately shut the doors and close off from everything but on most nights, I’m either stressing about dinner when my mom isn’t in the mood, which stresses not only me but solicits complaints from my father about ‘things not working’ out, and also solicits frustration from my girlfriend who like myself – had been at work all day and doesn’t want to deal with anything more for the night. I stress about managing expectations. I stress about the stress I know others will feel when said expectations are not met. I struggle to find a balance when my dad corners me with his laundry list of items and deciding between postponing things to the weekends or just dealing with things right then and there. But then come weekends – short precious weekends – and I find myself busy juggling with personal errands; communal errands (like groceries and household necessities); assessing bills and finances for my dad; chores – usually bed linen and bathroom towel laundry and/or cleaning the bathroom itself, or moving things, reorganizing things, etc for him; doing our own laundry; worrying about meals – CONSTANTLY – out of guilt that I’m not home during the week to help so I want to give my mom time ‘off’ but as there is increasingly little time ‘on’ – the resentment creeps in. And it’s not her fault, nor is it her responsibility. And none of this is my dad’s fault, and it is my responsibility. I'm their only child. I also feel like I’m stretched incredibly thin trying be a loving and responsible kid, a bookkeeper, a chauffeur, a medical advocate, an ATM, a friend, a lover, and a good person in general. I feel in juggling it all I am halfassed at best.

I don’t have the answers. My intentions are falling short. Everyone is growing restless and resentment is silently fostering in us all. I feel I do nothing anymore but constantly chase my own tail and by no means can time spent with anyone be considered ‘quality’ time spent with me. I can feel it. I’m drowning. I feel as though I started out as a person motivated by the purest of intentions and now grapple with my own darkness as the cloud of self-doubt, guilt, anger and resentment shield me from any hint of my former self.


You are a very articulate person,Jaspur13. I hope it helps a little just to share this stress and vent about it.

As you describe your situation, it sounds simply untenable to me. Your parents are divorced. In many families the divorced couple can't even hold it together enough to get through a family event like a wedding or graduation, and you have these people living under the same roof? I have a very cordial relationship with my ex-husband. Holidays and events are no problem. But I am trying to imagine living with my son because of financial hardship and then my ex moving in. OMG! Talk about stress. Talk about withdrawing to my room. Talk about being reluctant to help out Talk about neglecting my diabetes and going downhill! I just cannot imagine that scenario. Did your mother agree with moving your father in? Neither one of you could really imagine what you were getting in to.

And even without the complication of exes under the same roof, caregiving is a much more demanding role than most of us realize when we get into it. You are trying to work full time, as is your partner. This is a critical period for establishing your career and building for your future. And now one of you has the work interruptions of medical appointments and the stress of more people to shop for and feed and keep the house clean for. It is a shock for most of us. Many of us manage to work things out and cope -- but that is without the built-in huge stress that dwells in your house.

How does your partner feel about both of your partners sharing your house? Was he/she in favor of it before it happened?

Your intentions are A1 first-class. But it is hardly surprising you are unable to fulfill your intentions. It is not because you are a bad son or friend or lover or bookkeeper, etc. It is because you are in a no-win situation.

Mother's need is financial. Start there. If she could afford to live on her own, it sounds like she is capable of it. Help her look into subsidized housing for the elderly. If that seems feasible, she may need to be on a waiting list. That's OK. You can tough this out if there is an end in site.

Father can't live on his own, but he can pay for what he needs. Assisted Living, with transportation to medical appointments, may be ideal for him. Help him look into that.

With both parents getting their basic needs met you can go back to being their loving child, visiting each separately, sometimes taking them out (separately) providing little treats, etc. You can focus on building the foundation for your own future, both in your career and in your relationship.

Drastic advice? Yup. Your situation strikes me as drastically in need of fixing!
argh ... how does your partner feel about both of your PARENTS sharing your house?
Oh you poor did this ever transpire? I really want to know that. Someone thought this was a good idea?

Everything that Jeanne said...get mom on a list for subsidized housing. Do some research on assisted living places and take your dad to visit. If your mom likes to research and is motivated to move dad, maybe that's a task she eould enjoy doing!
Your parents, divorced for more than 15 years, wind up living in your home and bringing their various care needs with them. How come? You're only 33, you haven't even got round to marrying your partner and establishing your own family yet, you're working full-time: why would anyone think this a workable option?

And, how long has each of them been living with you? Was it supposed to be a temporary stop-gap until better accommodation could be found, or what?

In terms of practical help, make a detailed assessment of their individual needs both immediately and in the foreseeable future. You will then be able to think more clearly about how those can be met; but the current situation is untenable from all points of view.

What's your mother stressed about? Has she been recently bereaved, or suffered a relationship breakdown, illness or comparably painful event? I should keep half an eye on "competitive neediness" if I were you (that's not a technical term, I just made it up but I'm sure you'll see what I'm getting at) - as long as you express your love and care for her, you can still make it clear that you believe she can bounce back from here.

Don't anticipate guilt. In your circumstances there are better ways to be a good son than by housing both parents under your own roof; and your mother, in particular, is much too young to become your dependant. See that their needs are met, and you'll have nothing to feel guilty about.
I have to agree with several responses about solutions for getting your parents the help they need. They do not need to be living at your home. Caregiving is one of the most demanding jobs and even though at first it feels as though it's "the right thing"to do, that's usually guilt and sometimes other psychological needs talking. It is not easy and the right thing is assisting your parents within reason to live their lives on their own as adults. Caregiving places you in the role as parent and them as dependent and that is very stressful and unnatural. Your mother is in her 60's and I don't see why she is living with you. She can get on her own in housing somewhere. I agree with assisted living for your dad. This stress you are under is very detrimental to your physical health and will quite possibly make you ill. I know you probably feel like you have precious little time, but you really could use the help of a caring competent therapist to help you sort through this. Until you get them both out of the house use some of dad's money to hire help to come in and do laundry, cook etc. call the local "area wide agency on aging" to get referrals to companies that provide this. There is no reason a man working full time should be doing all these tasks. You need outside help man, so admit it and get it and then go about getting your life back. That feeling of drowning is telling you that something needs to change. You have rights too, you know. You can still be a loving son who does the best for his parents and takes care of your own needs.
ARRRG This is a "most" difficult situation and you should not feel guilty. You are doing way too much. I too am an only child. My dad lived in my house for 7 yrs. My mom was in a nursing home and my husband said that if we brought her here she was going in a nursing home here too because taking care of both of them was too much for me. She died a few months after he came to live with us so we never had to make that decision. I did get a person from the church to stay with my dad during the day while I was working. He took care of his hygiene, meds and food but mostly could sit around and read. Are you taking an antidepressant? You are in a very depressing situation. Take care of yourself first or you will not be able to take care of anyone.
When you are a caring person, and doing the best you can in an overwhelming situation, guilt has no place. You are doing all you can. Communicate that to your girlfriend, and your parents. A little therapy for support could help you. Your mom sounds like she needs some too.
God will give you more strength than you think. He will give you a rock to stand on, and He will give you rest. I am praying for you
You have a lot on your plate. I know it's a crutch, but have you thought about talking to a doctor about anti depression medications? Caregiving can be one of the most stressful times of your life. Working full time and having this on top of it is a double stress. Not having help is stressful too. Please talk to your family doctor.
You may want to work on your father's situation first. Small, licensed assisted living group homes are very affordable and often offer a better caliber of care than larger ones. I just moved my mom from a large facility that cost almost $5,000 per month (goes up sometimes monthly) with poor care, to a 6-bed home with better care for $3500 per month for all care and (their cost does not escalate at all). These smaller ALFs don't advertise, so you will need to check with places like the Aging Institute, Senior One, etc. to find them. You can't do everything at once so just start chipping away by making some calls. You and everyone else will be happier with less stress. (((HUGS)))

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