Caregiver Depression and How I'm Dealing With It

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After Mom and Dad moved into a SNF and were approved for Medicaid, I still feel a vast amount of stress that has led to a relapse into depression. In the four months since they've moved in, there have been tears, arguments, financial stress and trips to and from the hospital. It's as if a roller coaster changes to a bumpy road and back to a roller coaster again. (FTR, I hate roller coasters.) I don't live that close to my parents but I always feel on edge. Waiting for news. Waiting for the next payment to send out. Waiting for the next mood swing. Waiting to soothe tears. Shouldering their needs has made me bottle up my own and while I thought for a while I'd be okay, everything overflowed. I had a few panic attacks and severe breakdowns in grief. My depression progressed to the point where I was just sitting and staring at nothing for hours. I wasn't happy but I wasn't motivated to do anything at all. I stopped eating well. Stopped seeing friends. I stopped exercising. I stopped all of my hobbies. More frightening than grief was this absolute feeling of indifference for anything I used to love doing. I felt like my existence was just to worry and wait for the next thing I have to do for my parents. I'm constantly flipping the phone over checking for a message about them. I had a tough month and the lowest was last weekend. I'm better today but I don't feel 100%. I could fall back off tomorrow. I'm naturally introverted and generally a ball of anxiety. Despite my parents not living with me, I still feel so attached and worried for their well-being and care. But logic pulled through and I knew I couldn't stay like this. I found a therapist and I'm going to my second session tomorrow. My best friends (from childhood and college) came over and we had long talks. While I've gained quite a bit of weight to the point where I physically feel unbalanced, I'm taking small steps with little workouts and long walks --maybe I can work my way back up to dancing and weight lifting like I used to. (My mom's in this state because of diabetes and here I am putting myself on the path TOWARDS diabetes!) I started my hobby again tonight after weeks of not doing it. Love hurts and I know that. I can logic my way to feeling better but my heart breaks for my folks. This is tough and if you're feeling the same way I do, know you're not alone. It's hard to take that first step to self-care but if you KNOW you need to do it... just do it even if you don't feel like it.

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Izzomd; I know this is so hard ! Last December my father died ,I cry almost every day ,now my mom is very sick,I am very sad and cry about that tooo,and my aunt with deminta they all live with me it's sad to see the deminta take over my aunt too who was always so capable and independent ,I never wear mascara any more cuz I cry so much .Our lives are surrounded by dr.appt.Physical therapy, nurses, specialists ,hospitals ,and sadness, I tell you it's not easy this is really hard whoever thinks that a caregivers job is easy never was a caregiver.....I will go the end of the earth ,to help make the end of their lives as comfortable .But I always have to remind myself to stop and breath...slow down ,if I drive myself insane who's gonna take care of everyoneverything else so I make sure I take care of me before I take care of any one .I remind myself that I cannot help anybody if I can't help me! Therapy is GOOD !
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Izzomd, thank you for your honesty. Many of us can relate to your despair. And the paradoxical reaction of sabotaging our own physical wellness. Oy.

Keep up the good work with the therapist. By seeking professional counseling, you are affirming that value yourself (again) and you feel worthy of a personal investment. This is huge!

You deserve happiness. Or at least a new normal. Keep working toward that. (And yes, it will be work at times.) And keep us posted.

We’re rooting for you!
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Sounds like you are on the right track. My father has dimentia, is 86 and stubborn. Mom is wheelchair bound, very sensitive to dad getting more attention than her. They are quite interesting. both live with me now. However, If thay can not do basic activities of daily life, it is time for them to go to a facility. You can't beat yourself up about it. You are not a Doctor, Nurse therapist etc. It is better for them to be where they can be cared for. Make sure you find a nice facility close by. When they are with you you get angry at them sometimes, because they seem so inconsiderate of your time. You just have to bear with it and be empathatic. Sometimes you have to go to your room and lock the door and destress for a few minutes, to keep from cussing them out. I know from experience.
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Izzomd.... I understand your situation now as I am in a fairly similar one.

My parents both moved to a memory care this summer (about 5 months ago). I have been caring for them at varying levels over 5 years now.. and am their sole caregiver even tho I do have siblings. My Dad has had dementia for 5 years.. my Mom for around 2 years.

I am surprised by the new feelings this move has brought with it. I now feel an avalanche of grief (and guilt). Moving to a facility has made the situation very real for me.. there are no gray areas as there were before. Our lives are forever changed. I am missing who they were more then ever now.

Sometimes I am lacking motivation as well and have let myself go physically. I've been focusing on them so long that it is difficult to put some of that focus on myself.

Good for you for seeing a therapist.. I am seeing one as well and have been for at least a year now. The good news is I do have more free time (when I am not worrying about them and checking my phone).

Hopefully we can return to enjoy some of the things we did before..and just enjoy life. It sounds like you are on the right track and you are lucky to have some good friends to support you as well. Self care is my focus now. I know its hard tho.. .. just wanted to say I understand.

((hugs))
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Izzomd you are one tough cookie.I was really getting worried about you until I read you had sought out a therapist. Stick with it, best move you could have made. Your parents will also benefit from the fact that their advocate,you, will be less stressed, healthier and hopefully outlive them. Love does hurt. Just placed my mom on hospice 2 weeks ago and I still can't believe it. Some days my emotions are all over the place but I also see a therapist that keeps me grounded and has made me a better advocate for my mother without destroying my health. I also put on a LOT of weight when mother lived with me, just now taking baby steps on a diet . Thank you for posting about your situation, it gives me hope without guilt that I can and should take care of myself.
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