I suffer from major depression, PTSD, and agoraphobia and I am caring for my parents.

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I live with my parents one of which is getting alzheimer's just like my grandmother so I know I am next.. She drinks and gets angry at me spontaniously and doesnt forget that but forgets she repeats herself. She has no problem talking to me about my illness but when I try and explain to her that I too feel helpless to help her as she is to help me she gets angry at me. I know that I have to be here for them to take care of them but I barely can care for myself and my brother and sister are four states away living their own lives. I sometimes feel so hopeless no hope to help myself or my parents. She is on meds to try and slow the progression of the disease but they arent working and i dont know of any other meds out there to suggest as I am not a doctor frustrated as everytime I start to feel ok they get angry with me and it makes me slip down again. I live with guilt for wanting to be on my own to have my own life that I know will never be mine. My life is not my own and never has been.


BrokenWillow, are you seeing a doctor for your problems. Are you on any type of medication? I have had a couple of bouts of panic disorder with agoraphobia, so I know how hard it is. It would even be harder with depression. You didn't mention how old you and your parents are or how long it has been going on.

When I had agoraphobia, I battled it every day. I used to have a rally cry of "Feel the fear and do it anyway." I don't think I could have gotten well if I hadn't. I also had the help of an antidepressant and benzodiazepine while I was going through it. They helped a lot until I got back on my feet. The bouts of panic made me stronger in some ways and weaker in others.

Taking care of elder parents can be so depressing itself. I mainly suffer from a feeling of discouragement about it. So much rides on the shoulder of the caregiver, and it can be a thankless task. Sometimes when I hear someone say that I am so wonderful to do this for my mother, I smile and say thank you, but inside I am thinking "Oh, bite me." It is very stressful living life for other people.

I know how you are feeling, and I have a feeling for your family dynamics. The answers are not easy, but I do know that you are going to have to decide what you need to do to help yourself. If you aren't seeing a doctor, it is the first step. If you are afraid to leave the house, then feel the fear and do it anyway! Do the things you need to do to feel better. Take the medicine, get out in the sun, make yourself drive as far as you can, go for walks, and put on your rubber suit when it comes to your parents. If they have always been negative people, it will probably continue. Let your mother's words bounce off you and know that you are getting better.

When you are able, it may help to move. I know how hard that is, though, so it is good to get better first. Big hugs coming your way. (Agoraphobia support groups are also good for learning to fight the fear. Just getting out is the key.)
Hi JessieBelle, my parents are in their 70s and I am 44. I am no longer on any meds because I have tried every med on the market for the last 25 years and they worked for a time but then my body grew immune to them. I have put myself thru medical research in search of hope by getting a Vagul nerve stimulator implant that sent a shock to my vagul nerve every thirty minutes for thirty seconds for about 5 years i had it and nothing so had it removed. I have come to accept that I am untreatable. Even tho I still see a doc and a counselor. Yes there are days where I feel slightly ok but the rest are just miserable.
Please, for your own sake, consider finding an ALF for your parents. Your doctor or a counselor (I was never good with support groups, until this one!) can help you get the strength to see it through. I have major depression and PTSD, too. There are so many 'triggers' at my Mom's house it haunts me to this day, but I must spend the majority of the week there. I am on 200mgs of Zoloft daily, and at one point considered ECT. It sounds drastic to a lot of people who have seen old movies of it, but is nothing like that now. It may come to that, as I am also physically disabled now. I don't have agoraphobia per se, but have social phobia due to past abuse. I hate to admit it, but you may feel it, too. The worse I feel, like I am doing penance by taking care of people, depriving myself, etc., makes me not feel so bad about myself. Plays into depression-I deserve this. Don't get me wrong, I love my Mom. It is honestly too much for me some days. You know where thoughts go then, I am sure. Please, please talk to your doctor or counselor about placing your parents somewhere where you can visit them and they can have social lives but where their care doesn't fall on you. You need to focus on your own life, regardless of how the bad angel on your other shoulder keeps telling you you don't deserve it.
PLEASE take care of yourself now, not a moment later. If you are unable to care for your parents someone else will be found. Tell your doctor you need help now. Call the Office for the Aging and tell them your immediate need for assistance with your parents so you can take care of your real needs. You are in my prayers.
BrokenWillow: You should not be a caregiver. Pls. find another source of care for your parents....age 70's. It should be arranged by someone else other than you.
I really feel for you. I take care of a family member with severe Alzheimers too at home. The one thing I would personally recommend is getting help for yourself. You won't be able to help your parents in the best way you can unless you take care of yourself first and foremost. It can be a hard step to take, but believe me it is an absolutely necessary one. I had to seek help myself from the depression and overwhelming emotions I have been experiencing because of being a caregiver. I was actually embarrassed to have to go to mental health to get help because I figured I should be able to cope myself, but the sooner I actually admitted to myself that I couldn't do it alone and sought the help I really needed the sooner I started learning coping mechanisms that help me get through the tougher days. Have you tried writing in a journal as a way to release some of the stress inside? How about music or reading? I know it may not seem important, but you have to have an outlet for your feelings. Thankfully, you found this place to let it out and vent too. I know holding all that stress inside is very bad for you. I pray you get the help you need. Remember, you deserve to feel better too. God bless you for all you are doing to help your parents. We all know how hard it is to take care of those who need constant help.
My heart goes out to you, Broken. I too have emotional problems, largely due to abuse suffered from my father and brother. I would not be able to care for my elderly father even if he wanted me to because he is still abusive. You should not feel guilty for wanting out and should do what you need to to be free. On the other hand, even if individuals suffer from emotional problems, as long as they have not been found to be abusive, they should be allowed to care for a loved one if they want to. My mother, who I love dearly and get along with very well, was stuck in a nursing home at the orders of her abusive son and husband, even though I was more than willing and able to care for her. In fact, I did care for her at home after her stroke and was told by the Hospice social worker and DCF Investigater that I did a great job. But my father and brother still ordered her put in an institution out of spite (which I will not go into - suffice it to say I exposed them for the monsters they really are).
I feel for you also and think you should find care for them. I have recently started with anxiety while driving and it makes me so angry! I think I am cracking up myself and although I try to hold it all in, giving up our lives for so long wears on us more that I ever thought. Good luck. I would also like to hear from anyone else who suffers from anxiety driving for help myself.
I also feel what you are going through, as I have taken care of my sister, who has traumatic brain injury, for many years now. What I suggest, and what helped me, is locate your local Care Giver Alliance Agency and go to their support group meetings, or obtain a counselor there. It is very helpful. Of course, always see your doctor of your are not feeling well.
As part of illnesses I have, I went thru a period of panic attacks. Not finding the medicines acceptable for me in my situation (work & driving), I finally found a counselor who helped me learn to deal with them. The more of them I am able to surpress, the stronger I get. Don't give up on the meds. I too develop tolerances really easily. It just means you have to find a doctor that will help you cycle thru them. First and foremost, take care of yourself. Do not neglect your care. I caused permanent damage to the nerves in my feet because I thought I could not find time to go to the doctor. When my feet felt like they were on fire and I sat in bed crying, I found time to go to the doctor. You cannot take care of anyone else if you neglect your care.
Please contact a social worker. They can help you find assistance for both you and your loved ones. Finally, call your siblings and tell them they have to help. There is not any reason it has to all fall on your shoulders. They can come in for a weekend every other month or so to help. That will give you a short "take care of yourself" break. My sister works and lives 6 hours away. Her husband is not in great shape, but she manages to come over here about once a month just so I can sleep. A few weeks ago when I was watching my father's health fail while he was in the hospital, she & her husband drove over here for a few hours just to give me a hug & take my mother to get dinner. I call her almost every day to get a warm hello. There are ways your siblings can help from far away.

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