Post-Caregiver depression.

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Hi. Sorry for the long post. I have a complex situation and I need to get stuff off of my chest.

I was a caregiver for my aunt over the last 8 years. In the past year, she has been in sharp decline. I fell into the trap of not taking care of myself, and as a result went from being a healthy, happy, active person to someone who deals with depression and suicidal thoughts each day. I've gained nearly 80 pounds over the last 2 years, and developed health problems as a result. I've given up hobbies and friends. I have not been able to work over the past 2 years due to her demands on my time.

I was raised from infancy by this aunt (mostly). I am very grateful that my aunt took me in when no one else would. However, my aunt has been mentally ill all of her life, and was often abusive and neglectful to me.

She has always been unhealthy. Even when younger she did not shower, smoked heavily and never opened windows, became morbidly obese, soiled herself, refused to clean her house, etc. She has serious emotional problems and refused treatments after about a year of seeing a psychiatrist.

The consequences of her poor lifestyle choices caught up with her. She has ended up nearly immobile, with many health issues, the worst one being COPD. She is on 12 liters of oxygen, which means she cannot travel very far from her huge tanks. She has constant, extreme incontinence, which she does not try to manage (not changing her clothes or undergarments when soiled, soiling herself rather than walking to the bathroom). She’s diabetic and has spikes from as low as 50 to over 500 because she refuses to follow a diet. She also has congestive heart failure.

As bad as the medical situation is, her attitude has been worse. Since I was a child she has always been extremely negative, and has lived off of government assistance most of her life. She is, to be blunt, lazy and ungrateful taken to an absurd level. She holds people to unrealistically high standards. She gets enraged if anyone challenges her lifestyle. If there are any problems, she blames everyone around her. Besides me living with her she had 2 therapists, a homecare nurse, a CNA, a homecare doctor, meals on wheels, and a few random church friends to help her. Even with that much help, she complained daily about how “people won’t do anything” for her.

This past summer she started hiding her meds in an envelope instead of taking them. It caused her to gain something like 50 pounds of water weight in a month, and she became nearly immobile. She also became more demanding, expecting me to be home 24 hours a day to bring her food and snacks almost hourly. She began to refuse showers when the CNA came. I went out for the first time in months, and that night she was so angry I left that she refused to eat. The next morning her blood sugar was very low, like 50. She told her CNA that it was my fault because I didn't feed her. The CNA knows me well and knew that it wasn’t true, but it made me very angry.

A day later her homecare nurse got her to admit she wasn’t taking her meds. What followed was hospitalization, followed by many months in and out of rehab. Just recently she began retaining fluid again. She was defecating and urinating on herself and her chair, and refusing to use the toilet or wear adult diapers. She went to the hospital, and ended in a nursing home.

If I go to visit her, she does not ask how I am, she complains about the nursing home staff, the food, the residents, etc. She is obsessed with food, and expects me to smuggle in large bags of candy, chips, and soda to her. She expects me to keep her cats, which are untrained and destroy everything I own. She tells me "After all I did, this is how you repay me." I love her, she took me in when no one else would, but she expects me to forfeit my life for her needs indefinitely.

I am struggling to recover now that she is not home. I feel guilty for the situation. I feel like all the hard work and sacrifices I’ve made don’t matter. Things I used to enjoy don’t interest me anymore. I’m hoping that writing this out will help me heal and forgive her and myself. Thanks for your time.

20 Comments

Wow. Thank God you escaped the prison.
It is obvious from your words and your spiritual energy that you WANT to recover and you WILL restore yourself.
Move your body every day as much as you can.
Get rid of all the "emotional stuffing food" that you have been using instead of being able to express yourself! Yes? You get it. Fresh vegetables, protein, fruit. Water.
The amazing thing about the human spirit is that it is at the beck and call of the Universe! Start calling yourself a positive, loving name!! You are free from "ignorance" and "neurosis."
Your strength and tolerance is impressive, but now resume the life purpose you were created to fulfill. Day by day, like a chrysalis. ooh, that would be a good name:) xo
Wow, thank you for that. Brought tears to my eyes, literally. I've felt so alone in this so for so long. It's great to talk to someone about it who can understand.
I think you just lost a pound. Yay! And not just water weight! LOL
Get off the computer and go take a walk. I'm going right now, myself!
See, it is beginning, Dear One:) xo
Well, time is passing, I am slowly "defrosting" and getting back to my old self in some ways. I've developed some boundaries with my aunt, which have not gone entirely smooth, but I don't feel suffocated anymore either. Thanks ChristinaW, you are very kind.
Bless your heart:) Are you moving your bod? It's all a process. We get used to certain behaviors, if counter- productive it's like a runaway train. You have to switch tracks and slow down.
So, that's what you did! I'm proud of you, Iggie:) xo
Hi ignorotic/chrysalis :0)

I did not see your post on March! I am so glad Christina posted to you-she is a good woman!
That is awesome that you have made some boundaries. It really is best for the both of you. You really have been through a lot and did a lot for your aunt. It is time to take care of yourself as well!!!
I wish you much happiness and many blessings!!!!!

(((((chrysalis ))))) -sorry but I changed your name!!!! ;0)
A brief update. My aunt passed away on 5/28 early in the morning. I was able to talk to her about 8 hours before she passed and said what I needed to say (gratitude, love, support). It's been such a crazy ride this past decade. Thanks for responding to my posts. There are some incredibly strong and compassionate people here.
Hey there chrys!

My condolences on the passing of your aunt and my congratulations on your continuing recovery.

Christina gave you good advice and you are showing yourself that you can recover and do this.

Welcome back to Life.

lovbob
Igno, how are you doing? Sorry to have missed your post. Root canal.
So, you had a chance to say goodbye and express to each other your feelings: awesome:) You did an amazing job these last 10 year!!! What a Blessing.
Ease yourself back into "YOU" and keep moving forward. As you know, life is short, so live each day feeling good about your choices. Are you still walking and eating healthy? Take care and keep in touch! xoxo
Thanks, Bobbie.) xo
Igno - While you will grieve the loss of the aunt who cared for you, you now have the freedom to take your life back. Take stock of where you are and what would make you happy and, when you're ready, go out there and find it. I, too, missed your post in March. I found it to be very difficult to remake myself after being the caregiver. I didn't know who I was or what I was supposed to be doing after my dad passed. It took some time (and therapy) but I am moving forward now. Am I the same person I was before caregiving? No, but in some ways I think I'm better and have a better grasp of what's really important in life and what I should walk away from. I'm sorry for your loss and wish you wonderful things in the future. Hugs, Kuli

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