delsberry Asked January 2010

I have been caring for my husband for 11 years. I feel isolated from friends and suffer emotional distress from a lack of communication with other people. What can I do?

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help...I have been a caregiver for 11 years. i am isolated from friends because i am to uncomfortable around them. i have been left alone by family. i am alone and sleep all the time. i have no hope for an end my life is on hold. my husband is a stroke survivor . a massive stroke left him paralyzed on right side. unable to speak. he has apraxia also i am never sure what he understands. i have recently hired a caregiver to relive me of some his care needs but i still continue to sleep and don't take advantage of caregiver to get out. i think i waited to long and am afraid to venture outdoorsl.

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NancyH Feb 2010
If you're going to a church that makes you feel guilty for not tithing, then you're in the wrong church. My husband and I tithe regularly, but that's between us and God. And also your church shouldn't be making you feel guilty about NOT getting involved with helping. Especially if they know of your circumstances, they should be aware of the stress you're already under, and not expect you to add yet another duty to your list. I have found, the smaller the church, the more family like it seems. When you go to a huge mega church, it's easy to get lost in the crowd. Some people like that, we don't so we attend a small community church. And also, what better place for sick people to be then church? After all, why would you go to a hospital unless you were in need of help? So also with the 'church', but in the end it's the people that make a 'church'. Otherwise it's just another building.
Matthew 18:20:
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the middle of them.
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MsChrys1 Feb 2010
SoAlone... We hosted services in our home several times (our church was a start up, no building, so congregation knew our plight), and I USED to volunteer on a local charitable board of trustees AND held several posts on our towns neighborhood watch (when I was a stay at homer, for several years BEFORE spouse was hurt and my time split between him and having to return to work full time), thus have done my stick so to speak with volunteerism. I would spend ALL weekend outside just trying to keep up with the yard work by myself, as spouse couldnt. In over 10 years of this, only ONCE did a neighbor offer to help shovel snow. I instead bought a snow blower, as at least I can rely on that/will spare my own back. I am sure there are good folk in many a church, just not feeling the warm fuzzies for churches in my area, based on experience.
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tinapick Feb 2010
Careing can be very lonely even in a room full of people. I sometimes think only another carer can know. Try to find a carers group that you can visit, perhaps your doc will know of one.
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SoAlone Feb 2010
mschrys1 says ""nor did we experience any simple phone calls just to touch base. Seems unless you've directly experienced medical tribulations, most are ignorant of the feelings/needs of others""

It is easy to criticize a "church" as a group of people. but you have to remember each person is an individual and as a group we sometimes do not function well because we sort of think someone else in the group is doing it.

My sister often blamed "the people at church" for not going out of their way to convert our dad or whatever and she complains about other things related to the people at church yet SHE is one of them and she has never volunteered for anything either. She never "made a simple phone call"
We see ourselves as needing but we don't see ourselves as part of the solution for others either.
Everyone is in some sort of situation and can use support.

Sometimes to get past the group mentality a more personal plea has to be made. Directly to the pastor who can then make sure someone is assigned the task. Otherwise people assume someone else is doing it.
I know I never considered myself one of the "workers" in the church and I have sat there for years in the pew and never gave a thought to being the ONE who would answer the plea for help. I was leaving that up to the people who were better at it or who are just plain better people.

don't blame "the church" they are all just people like you..
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MsChrys1 Feb 2010
I find many of us no longer attend church because so many church congregations are worse than strangers when it comes to understanding the lives of caregivers and the ill. We found that we had no offers from our last congregation to get out/make friends, requests to help during spouse's many surgeries (perhaps baby sit as to allow some breathing room/time to not have to tend to twelve things at once), nor did we experience any simple phone calls just to touch base. Seems unless you've directly experienced medical tribulations, most are ignorant of the feelings/needs of others. Also, there is the pressure to spend more time at the church (hard to do when working, raising kids and tending to ill spouse/dealing with the medical and other financial based paperwork), and lastly, there is the sheer guilt of not being financially sound as to allow for tithing when dealing with the strains that illness causes to our fiscal survival which all play a part in why many of avoid organized religious gatherings so to speak. I find that my elderly clients (80% of my workplace clientele) are perhaps the most able to understand my plight/I connect the best with these acquaintances, but they dont have mortgages and children still at home, and had 30, 40, 50 years of a healthy spouse to enjoy v. our (and millions of others) situation of having your lives turned upside down in your 30's (effectively robbed of your good times/memories to lean on when in your golden year before being allowed to build them due to illness or injury or both.
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SoAlone Feb 2010
Hello. You are suffering depression and need treatment for that.

In addition to your caregiving responsibilities and your feelings of isolation you may be feeling some guilt because it is natural to have some bad feelings toward the loved one.

You may feel trapped and angry. Forced to live a life which you no longer control but you can get control but you may need some help from someone who can help you see a different point of view.

You may not feel like a WIFE anymore but rather a nurse so you have to deal with those feelings. Your husband is probably suffering many of the same feelings and probably needs help for depression too. If he is aware then he knows you are sleeping all of the time.

You can live a happy life and so can your husband.

I spend a great deal of time alone and isolated. I practically have gotten to the point where I hate to leave my house! Fortunately I have found that I do love to read and find a lot of peace in reading. I also have pets to care for which helps me a great deal.

Do you and your husband have a pet? They can be lifesavers.

One thing you may consider is volunteering at a place which supports a cause you care a lot about. We have a local animal shelter store which sells donated items. Working there is very uplifting and you meet wonderful people.
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pamela6148 Jan 2010
There was a lady that would come by and bring my mom Communion for several years. When my mom got sick the lady came by while I was there. I explained to her that my mom had had a stroke and couldn't eat solid foods, that everything had to be puried and that the communion would have to be broken up and given to her in a small piece. I went out to get some water, came back and found the lady had placed the entire communion in my moms mouth. I knew then that she did not understand what I'd said. She told me to call her when my mom was better that she couldn't break off pieces of the communion.

I called the Rectory and left several msgs for the Priest. I told his secretary that I'd gone to the elementary school, as had my sister. I told him I was baptised, made my first Holy Communion, Confirmed there. I further told him I'd married there, and both my sons were baptised there. I also told him that my mom use to work at the convent, which she did for 5 years. I told them that my mom had been making donations of $100.00 to the church for many a year....MANY A YEAR. It took several calls for me to get the priest over there.

The Priest called me and made arrangements to come over. He did not know our history with the church and had only been at this parish for 8 months. He also has another church so he pulls double duty.

I found him to be delightful and uplifting and a great sense of humor. He even got me to return to Mass at the church,
and he has been coming faithfully every since October atleast every week.

If you call, they will come. Explain your situation and you will feel a lot better.

I'm praying for you. You can do it, I know you can.
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195Austin Jan 2010
I took care of my husband for 16 years and he died last June, I was able to get out for some activities occasionaly while caring for him so already had some interest. You can't have a garden now outside but could buy some herb plants for the window sill to have something to grow. My church is very little less than 50 people but so. If you knit or crochet you can make lap robes to donate to nursing homes in your area or maybe you could find someone who is loney and make their life more enjoyable there are so many lonely people out there if you give to others it will make your life better.
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I agree with the comments and especially angelgirlpj. Talk to God. He's the best friend you'll ever have. You took the first step by getting a caregiver to help you out. Now you have to give yourself a break. Remember that you have given up your life for the past 11 years and you have to start living again. You probably will feel guilty having a good time or even feeling happy because your husband can't share that with you, but he wouldn't want you to give up being happy for him. If you have any hobbies, pick them up again and find new friends in club meetings, ect. that involve that hobby. I had all but given up on getting my life back because I spent so much time caring for mom, but I also have found 2 caregivers who help me out and I'm going to start horseback riding again. I went to a club meeting with only women around my age who ride last night and we planned rides (even overnighters) and I came alive again just talking about it. I had so much fun and can't wait to have some "life" in my life again. Do something for yourself. It's okay.
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Can you call your church and ask someone to visit? How about your local Senior Center or Commission on Aging?
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