Could use some help...

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Hello! I wasn't even sure how to categorize this. It's depression, it's caregiver burnout, it's a tough's everything :) I hope someone may be able to help. I'm 39 years old and live with my bedridden mom, who is just shy of 70 years old. She's been bedridden for years now, and can't walk without help. My adult brother lives here too and together we provide her with the care she needs (bring her meals, help her shower, etc.). As you may be able to guess, this has affected my quality of life deeply. My boyfriend lives clear across the country and he asked me to move in with him. We want to start a family and we're tired of not being physically together more than a handful of times a year. Naturally, my mother has turned this into a really difficult situation for me--but I think I've also done it to myself in a way. I broke the "moving" news to her a while back and she wasn't happy at ALL. (If it helps to paint a clearer picture, we're Indian, and it's considered quite a betrayal for an Indian kid to leave their sick Indian parent.) She gave me a long guilt trip about having to go live in a nursing home (not true--my brother is still here to help), how I only think about myself (I'm almost 40, want to be a mom and may have blown that chance because I stayed at home with her--how selfish, I know), and then finally, the ultimate end-scene: "You should go. We should all think only about ourselves." You know, in that "tone" that's reserved for the deadliest guilt trip of all, lol. The thing is that it WORKS on me. Despite all of this, I love her very much. That won't change no matter where in the world I am, and I've assured her that I'll help her however I can, talk to her all the time, visit sometimes, etc. But I also feel I deserve a chance at happiness. It's within arm's reach. A month or so ago I had a health scare and when I found out I was okay, we both started crying. She hugged me and told me to move and be happy. To have joy in my life. I mean, she essentially gave me the "permission" I think a part of me needed. Yet something prevented me from booking a ticket right away and lo and behold, it's now weeks later and I can't seem to bring up the topic with her again. I've kind of chosen an official (ish) moving date, but I dread her reaction (she's NOT going to repeat those kind words from earlier, that much I know), her guilt trip, and even my own guilt. How do I handle this? My boyfriend is patient, and I am so lucky in that regard. But at the same time, I can't wait forever to start a family. And she's the only living parent between us, and I'd LOVE for our child to have a grandparent. I've even told her this, but it doesn't really sway her. She truly thinks first about her own needs, but I feel that's because she lives in her little bubble--being stuck inside her bedroom for years, unable to see beyond the scope of those four walls, is extremely isolating. What can I do? Any advice? I'm just so stressed and so worried about the future. My health is suffering as a result and I sometimes feel like this is just IT for me. I'll die in this house, never having experienced any joy or built the family I wanted. I guess this is really dramatic...but it weighs so heavily on me every day. Thank you so much for reading this :)


EastEndGirl, are you living in India now?

You are right. Your culture has done this to you. Your mother has done this to you. And now you are doing it to you. You know which of those things you have control over.

If your mother can walk with help, why is she stuck in the bedroom? If you can get her up for a shower, could you get her up to sit in a wheelchair? And if she is in a wheelchair, couldn't she be taken places? At the very least be in other rooms of the house? Help us understand how she is "bedridden."

I'm pretty that I can predict the outcome if you stay with your mother. You will become more and more resentful of your mother and your role, and that your loving relationship with her will be damaged or ruined.

Do you have access to mental health counselling? You need someone objective to tell you that wanting your own life is not selfish, and that of course you deserve your own chance at happiness.

If you go to live across the country, your will feel guilty. If you stay you will feel incredible resentment and depression.

Can your mother afford a good nursing home? What are they like in your area? Might your brother not want to live his own life, too? Could mother move across the country into a nursing home near your new home? You could visit often and let her engage with any grandkids that may come along.
Yes, you are in a very difficult situation but it is not too late to change course

Since your brother is part of this and presumably cannot care for your mom on his own then have you two come up with a plan for mom's care?

Many points of view but I imagine if you are not in the states then you may have fewer options

Thank you both so much for your replies! I'm actually in the US. My mom was born and raised in India, and although we aren't too traditional in other ways, we seem to be very much so in the whole kids-leaving-their-parents situation. That said, I'm not exactly a kid anymore.

Her bedridden state is a bit hard to explain. She went into a deep state of depression about 20 years ago when my late father left her. It got so bad that she just never got out of bed. I basically shouldered all of the household responsibilities once my dad moved away. It was tough to do that while going to college and attempting to establish a career. Somehow I did do it, but unfortunately it set a precedent for years to come.

Fast forward to today--and it's like my worst nightmare has been realized. I'm almost 40, I still have no kids, and I suffer from terrible anxiety and depression. I think it's that anxiety that has prevented me from taking action and just leaving for good, to be honest. For some reason I'm terrified of her reaction. I want to simply tell her I've decided on a date and will be going...but the aftermath of that kind of announcement is always so traumatic for me. I was once such a strong woman, but in recent years I've turned into a complete mess. I can't even handle a simple conversation with my own mother.

My mom is stubborn and won't even entertain the idea of a "stranger" coming to the house to help her. She MIGHT be willing to do so if my brother is still in the house with her, but that defeats the purpose of having an aide. I guess she's afraid, since she doesn't walk and can't keep an eye on the person the entire time.

Now may also be a good time to mention that my brother and I have no relationship whatsoever. I'm sure this will make everyone wonder about me and the type of person I am. But I've tried to make amends and he refuses to see beyond his own stubbornness, so I can't force him to talk to me. He's perfectly content staying at home and has no plans to marry or have a family, so our paths are completely different in that regard. I simply NEED to leave if I want to have any sort of life of my own.

I attempted suicide earlier this year, but didn't do enough to follow through. I informed my boyfriend and best friend and they immediately found me a therapist who I've been working with since then. She has helped me in some ways. I'm not suicidal now, but I also don't feel especially hopeful. I feel like this really may be it for me, and it's all because I lack the strength to do the right thing. I am SO wracked with guilt about leaving my bedridden mother who isn't even 70 years old yet. I fear she'll fall apart if I leave. I hate to sound childish, and I hope someone here understands. I've lived with her my entire life and cared for her for almost two decades of my life. I'm torn in every way.

Again, thank you for reading all of this.
It is time for you to move on with your life. Your mother and brother will cope is his burden now whether to place mom in a home or hire a caregiver in the home they share. It is time for your mother to grow up and you need to leave so she can.
Thank you, JoAnn. You're so right. I just need to somehow summon the strength to make a clean break. I know I can't control how she behaves or what happens after I leave. It's just so overwhelming.
Has your mom had a medical work up to figure out what is going on with her?

As depressed as you are, your mom sounds just as bad off, and I am guessing on some level she knows she has been dragging you down too. I wonder if you took a few steps away, if she might actually find it liberating to see you doing ok?

Sometimes people resent it when someone they are close to makes a change; sometimes they are happy for the person or find it freeing/motivating for themselves. Sometimes it's a combination and that's ok. Change is scary for most people, worse when you're anxiety-prone. Making those changes will be hard but when things settle down and everyone is still alright, you will all feel a lot better than you do now.

I wish you the best.
I don't think mom is going to change a well established pattern of behaviour (20 years!) so I wouldn't even think about trying that.
On the plus side you have a boyfriend and a good friend - yay! - who are very supportive. You also have a hard won college degree and a career, give yourself credit for that too. Rather than trying something radical I wonder if you could look for a small, inexpensive apartment that you could use as a part time get away, date night, personal space, kind of place while still calling your childhood home your primary residence. It would get you accustomed to budgeting for rent and personal items needed there and allow you to test your wings without jumping off the cliff. Hopefully over time and with the help of your therapist you would be spending more time there than at your current residence and could eventually sever the apron strings altogether.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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