Caregiving for mom makes me depressed more than ever...

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I've heard that there can be triggers when you start to feel depressed, I'm not sure what they are though. I feel alone in this journey, I have a sister who lives near by but is not proactive in moms care I'm the primary caregiver. My husband helps when he can, don't ask too much of him as he works & very tired when he comes home he has a physical job and I guess I feel it's my responsibility to take care of mom. It's been about 3 years since I've been taking care of mom & it's not getting any easier, it was much easier in the beginning. I quit my job to take care of mom and I don't have a life, I try to involve myself in volunteering but it doesn't fill the void. Sometimes I feel suicidal or I wish I wouldn't wake up...then I wouldn't have to go thru these feelings of depression and anxiety...life seems really tough for me and can't climb out of this feeling of unhappiness. I know I need help but I don't even have the motivation to get it that would mean one more thing for me to do...I know I'm the only one who can help myself, but how other than the obvious...I find myself drinking wine to escape...Anybody have similar issues & how are you coping???
Thanks
Fran

36 Comments

Hi Fran,
I've been through it (except for feeling suicidal or wishing that I wouldnt wake up, but I've heard of others who have) and yes, there are triggers. I would switch from being depressed to being very anxious when I'd experience one of them.

Please dont drink because it'll only add to the depression and anxiety.

Its important that you try to contact everyone you can think of right now to help you in the effort of being provided with some quality respite time. As you speak with people, be it family members or friends, be upfront with them about what you are going through and ask if there's anything they can do to help.

I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that one of those calls will prove to be the key to finding some relief for you.
Fran:

Your feelings of depression are normal. You gave up alot to help your mother and I think you would do it again. I would try to get paid home health aides to come in for regular shifts so you can get some much need sleep and reconnect a bit with friends. Ask the doctor if your mom can get some home health aide coverage via medicare.
Having a drink of wine isn't bad if it lets you relax a bit. I did it. Of course, you don't want to become dependent on it but I doubt if you will.

Sometimes I would rent movies comedies and it helped both me and my dad.
I suspect the three yrs of caregiving has run you down physically as well as mentally. Lack of sleep for a long period of time does depress a person, I was up every hour and half each night since 2009 and it took a toll. If you can get consistent sleep things will improve mentally. There is nothing wrong with hiring a home health aide to stay with your mom overnight.

If you have the funds, concern having a live in aide to reduce the amount of caregiving you are doing. It should reduce the stress level.

I woud try to get some caregiver counseling (one on one) to try to deal with the depression. Hopefully some mental health or religion person who has been a caregiver and knows the exhaustion factor we face as caregivers.

Good luck and remember you do your best but a lot of the decline in an elderly parent is part of the aging process. None of us can turn back the hands of time for our love ones.
I've had similar problems. It's so much work, you just want it to end. But the end is death and that's upsetting too.

You treat it like any kind of depression. I suggest you see some one. Also I've found exercise and meditation to be helpful.
I went to my doctor and got on anti-depressants...they worked for a while but you still NEED TO GET OUT and about without your mom. Find respite care. I called every agency I could find online. I also had Home and Community Based Services from SRS. That was probably your first stop three years ago when you began this caregiving journey. If not, PLEASE do so now. They can help but they also took money out of mom's SS for the services. Some charities also have volunteers especially for caregivers of those with dementia, Alz, etc. I used those resources too! ANY time that I could get away from mom and caregiving helped me with my mental state..even if it was one hour every three days. I looked forward to that one hour and soaked it all in! Best of luck to you but...still, get online and search for resources that will help you. Send emails, call, BEG...that's what I did and it finally worked...some. HUGS to you, my friend and remember....there IS a reason you are still alive. They give halos for what you are doing.
I know where you are coming from. I too go through bouts of depression. I try to take long walks, and an occaisonal day away from it all. I've been taking care of my Mom now for five years. Like you, I left my job to do so. I think that is part of it. As much as I looked forward to retirement, this was not what I had planned. I also realize I am not getting any younger, and have no life. That doesnt' help. After three years of this, I was diagnosed with Afib. The doctor has told me it's aggravated by stress. Like I didn't know it!
All I can do is tell you, when it's all over you will be glad you made the choice. After all, life has got to get better. Just don't let it get you down too much. Like others have said. Take some time out for yourself when you can. Find something you enjoy doing, and do it. Something for you, not more volunteering. But it that's what makes you happy, then by all means do it. It's just that you have to think of yourself also. Find out just what little lifes pleasures you enjoy, and do them.
here is an option that our family is considering: My sister lives at home with mom and is her caregiver. however, she works 1-9:00pm 5 days a week. the two days that she is off she takes mom with her on all of her errands. First of all, we found a senior day care and we take mom there on one of my sister's days off and then I pick her up to spend the night with me at my house. That gives my sister ONE FULL day to herself. Next step we are looking into is moving both mom and sister into a 55 and above senior apt. that is connected with an assisted living center. That way mom has a built in support and social system right outside their apt doorway and sister doesn't feel so alone with the task of keeping mom company. Depression is very serious, esp if you mention suicide. see a doctor immediately and see about medicine. Some people have a seritonum deficiency in their brain and the only way to treat this is with medicine. The goal in care giving is to maintain one life without losing another. Get it! That's you!! You are maintaining your parent's life but in danger of losing your own. The difference between raising a child and caregiving an adult is that the goal with a child is to raise them to independence. With an adult there is no happy end in sight - they will never be on their own again. And as the caregiver there is no happy ending. Please find a way to get more time for yourself. many GREAT suggestions in this link. Bless you for all that you are doing.
Hi Fran; It's great that we can share our stories and family life together and hear other responses and advice. I also am caregiver to my 84 year old mother who is abusive, reclusive, and relies on me for everything, I think including her happiness. She moved in with me six years ago after my father passed away - I bought the family home, and as my mother was enabled for all her life and my father did everything, and for her, she called me two months after his passing and said that she didn't think she could afford to be on her own. So, being the good daughter, I told her to come and live with me. Big mistake as it has taken such a toll on my health and life. She had cancer a couple years ago and I took her to her radiation appts., may doc appts etc. I too have been quite depressed, suicidal thoughts at times, anxious, can't sleep, low self esteem, no self confidence. I lost my job a few months ago also which didn't help matters. The worst part of it all is it's a thankless job, exhausting, and she doesn't have anything nice to say - every word out of her mouth is spoken with bitterness, and she is abusive. I know this part of her aging and she has always had mental health issues through her life. The good daughters that we are cannot turn our backs and walk away. I would not want someone to do that to me either. But, it would be so much better if they showed that they are grateful, and try to be nicer. It's amazing how nice and pleasant she is with everyone else but me, so it must be difficult for alot of these people to really understand what I am dealing with. The one thing that is helping me these days is exercise and yoga - I take an antidepressant daily that I've been on for years (wellbutrin), and I have alprazolam for anxiety which I take as needed. There are times when I take seroquil for sleeping but don't like to often, but let;'s face it if you don't sleep then you don't function. We can't change them, we can only change ourselves, so we need to find ways to cope. I try not to discuss much or talk much with her at all, she does not socialize as she stays in the house every day, not even to sit on the porch, and gets her hair done at the hairdresser once a week if she wants. Since she has embaressed me in public at a restaurant by calling me a slut (not once but twice), I refuse to take her in public unless I absolutely have to. They don't care how much we are sacrificing our lives, in fact, they could care less as they don't see it like that, what we are doing is 'expected'. Just do what you can, and ignore the rest. We are not superhuman, we too have feelings. They become old and miserable, but don't let them bring you down. We deserve to have our life, as they have already had their chance to live their life. I wish I had stayed in my townhome that was almost paid for, but we all make our choices in life. She will never agree to go to a nursing home, so I'm stuck. Do somethiing to make yourself happy - life goes by too fast and we don't want to end up like them. God bless
my therapist recommended the book "Feeling Good... The New Mood Therapy" by David D. Burns. it is helping me resolve all the thoughts in my head. i recommend you read this and see if it helps.
I am sorry to hear of the way you feel. I hope you will find a way to cope with the feelings that's causing your depression. I have been taking care of my mom 24 hrs for the past 10 years. Even though we didn't live together(close proximity) I felt she was on my mind 24 hrs. She's been in NH since march 2012. What keeps me clear minded was attending bible study, church services. kept me away from bad thoughts. Itsnot just taking care of her that stresses me out, it's when she lies to a family member. Mom has early stages of dementia, and yes that may be what to expect. But when other family members are told lies about me that's more depressing. I am an emotional eater. I try to please and i get the worst possible comments from family members. I know that the lord is watching me, he's who I will answer to. God bless you!
Equinox
Talk to your doctor. Ask for a referral to a therapist. Seek out a caregiver support group. You are not alone, even though you may feel alone. Depression is treatable but you cannot treat it yourself any more than you could treat your own brain tumor.

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