Does anyone else deal with depression from being a primary caregiver?

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For those who don't know me, my husband and I live with my mom who is 91 and has Alzheimer's and a weak heart. I take medication for depression but it still gets a hold of me. We rarely get out together as my mom can't be alone. My brother and sister live far away...brother gives us breaks maybe once or twice a year. Sister doesn't lift a finger. I've been doing this for almost 5 years and making other arrangements is not an option for me. My husband says I'll feel better in the spring. I don't know... Guilt goes along with the depression. If I don't do anything I feel guilty, but I some days don't feel up to doing a thing.

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I deal with my depression everyday. Some days, I don't deal and just let it ride out. I just lay there and hardly move and barely speak. It's hard when you got to do it on your own. I think this whole guilt thing has got GO. None of us in this type of situation need to feel guilty for not wanting to deal with it for a while. As a matter of fact, that is our RIGHT. We deserve to do or NOT do anything for ourselves.

Have you looked into adult day cares in your area? i dang near jump in joy when I put my mom on the bus.. on those days.. not an ounce of guilt to be heard or seen.

Best Wishes
Kelley
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MIZ:

All caregivers experience depression at one point or another. How we cope with it is the tricky part. Some people resort to "happy pills" like Prozac or Celexa to mask it; others accept it as part of a war in which all sides lose something. Some, always so free and easy on the advice, seem to be in total control. The fact is that half the time they're playing the Cleopatra Queen of Denial bit complete with teflon attitude, and pretending they're in control of everything and everyone. Some give in and become trapped; others go screaming into the night after the first week. The list goes on and on.

Miz, it sounds to me like you're grieving for a life you used to have before all these sacrifices of caregiving came along. And barely anyone around to help except those whose love for you you believed unconditional.

Every 24 hours or so take some "me time" and rewind the tape of your existence. Have you been happy, even if it's for 5 minutes a day? Is your soul searching deep enough to identify the causes or triggers of your depression? Of course you'll come across individuals handing out their spiel about people, places, and things. What they won't tell you is that those same people, places, and things are actually you.

All us, in time, will need a source of strength other than our own. Dig a little deeper within yourself, and you'll realize the answers you seek have been there all along.
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Reply to Eddie
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When you don't have a support system esp. within your own family,how could anyone not be depressed. Caregiving is hard in the best of circumstances. It does make a hugh difference when some one is there that you feel that loves your parent as you do,such as a brother or sister,but when you handle everything alone;it is a recipe for diaster.
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Reply to tennessee
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Depression? Oh heck yes. Today I am so depressed I've not been able to do the one little errand I had scheduled. So I totally understand.
Some days I feel like throwing in the towel.
My 90 year old Mother goes out once a week to go shopping-and that is the greatest time for me! Its like all the bad air in the house is gone for awhle and I can play music, walk around wherever I wish, dance, talk to myslef-whatever. This is one thing that doesn't get addressed very often. Emphasis is on the "getting out" part of respite, which is fine, but since most of us are adults, we also mourn the freedom to just "be" in our own homes!
Does anyone agree?
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I think the original question should have been "Does any one NOT suffer depression from being a caregiver
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Reply to Veronica91
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Dear Mizunderstood10,

I couldn't have found a better thread to read today than the one you started. Your story is my story, as I am sure it is so many others' as well. We have good hearts. We love our family members. We want to do the best for them and probably for everyone else, too. BUT and there is a big BUT attached to this.

BUT along with our caring for them and sharing our lives and often our homes with them, comes a great price that we alone as caregivers pay. Depression, anxiety, loss of sleep, loss of friends, loss of life, not just theirs, but ours, feeling fatigued, feeling alone, and on and on and on. We want to do our best. We try. But there are days and there are weeks when we feel like we're drowning, like we are the ones who are ill.

I do so appreciate everyone's advice. It is exactly what we need to hear, but as I said, there are days and there are weeks, when we can't absorb the wise words spoken here. I want to appreciate the few minutes I have when my parents nap or the hour or two I have when someone else is watching them, but it is so hard. It seems like I can't disconnect from them, in order to relax.

Someone says, "Take a bath. Take a walk. Read." Their words are the right words, but how do I get my mind off the responsibilities I am constantly facing? I don't know how to disconnect. I never feel free. And I want to feel at peace. I desperately want to.

So what advice do I have for you. KEEP COMING BACK HERE. Years ago, I went to OA to lose weight. They said two things that still stay with me. Keep coming back, so you have support, even when things seem the darkest. And "Act as if" things are OK. If you wait to "feel better" you may be waiting a long, long time, but if you start acting as if they are, even if they're not, the behavior may encourage the mind to follow.

This is my refuge, right here. You all share my life; you share my story. I don't have to feel bad telling the same story over and over again. Here it is all OK.

Good luck to you, Miz. Good luck to us all.
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Reply to RachelDevin
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The best way to deal with depression is to separate the clinical side of depression. That means ruling things out that are physical. Try for a check up regardless of how unmotivated you are. As far as the mental aspects of depression - at this point I hope that there is no stigma to a treatable condition. Medications for depression are not "happy pills" - SSRI's are in many cases lifesavers for some people who have an imbalance and benefit the same way diabetics do from proper use of insulin.

Some tricks that I use personally is to stay goal focused, and not to dwell on anything that I cannot change. That type of self talk is a good way to sabotage your day. You know the old adage, misery loves company - it is true. Although we all have bad moments, don't fall into the trap of endlessly discussing why something is unfair, sad, crazy-making (endless list).

I have been a solo caregiver for seven years. I occasionally participate on this board because I've managed to deal with alot, and its hard work - depression makes it harder still. So when I comment, I am not painting a rosy picture, nor am I advising anyone to be in denial of their problems. I am, however suggesting that how you manage your expectations is likely to be more helpful than complaining about things you cannot change.

A person with Alzheimers is not in a position to know that you have issues - let alone work out stuff from the past. So when I say suck it up & let it go - you will feel better, I earned the right to say it because I have done it. If I feel helpless, then I figure out where I can regain a bit of control - either in researching a condition, resolving to laugh while cleaning up poop instead of crying, or realizing that my choice of being a caregiver for a family member means I probably won't be walking down the streets of Paris this year or meeting the man of my dreams. These dreams weren't stolen - I wasn't forced, they are a mature choice - the same ones we make when we show up for work rather than going to the movies, or doing our homework instead of playing video games. If old friends drop away, then so be it. Never hang on to anything, that does not nurture you or make you happy - that means self-image too.

Be kind to yourself, admit what you need for you to thrive may not be what someone else thinks you need. Realize that self-talk can hurt or help - your choice, choose wisely. Talk to a Dr. about meds if you need them - don't tell anyone else. Its not them that is feeling your pain. Realize that lifting your mood does not change your life - that is still up to you.

Do things that make you laugh. Dance to music you like every day. Eat healthy food and sleep - maybe the luxury for you would be hire a sitter and sleep for 8 hrs rather than being up every 2 to check on your loved one - that kills your mood.

Appreciate the fact that the real world is always better than online - go outside and get fresh air & sun every day for even a little bit.

In other words, practice a little every day in managing your reactions - not responses - to all of the crappy stressful stuff that you can't control. Takes work to get your sense of humour back, but it is worth it - so after you have had a good cry, have a good laugh if you can, its good for your heart and soul.

Last night my parent when I was putting my parent to bed I felt pretty beat up from the week which had been pretty challenging for us both. She said to me - never mind don't you know that when you wake up in the morning, the devil always says "oh crap! she's up!"

It made my day (night), I laughed and yes, today I am back to myself again. I think everyone on this board is so deserving of wishes come true, so I hope my reminder about laughter and hope helps ....

writing it helped me.
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Reply to Cat
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I've suffered with bouts of depression all my life. Some deeper and darker moments but mostly manageable. Flash foward to now.....welcome to my Bermuda triangle of depression!

It started slowly, with some expected losses. Friendships, travel, personal time, romance, etc. As I busied myself with what needed to be done, I stopped looking up and around buried myself with tasks. Mom required more time now. Not that she needs constant care but we don't leave her alone in the house. I work all day, errands on the way home, and switching with the day sitter, home all night. Work.home.work.home.work.
Bye bye freedom.
Even though when I had the choice, I stayed home now that the choice itself was gone.......
Trapped. Begin to freak out.
OK breathe.
Set a goal to turn things around. Make a plan.....
Sister from out of town arrives on a visit with husband.....marital issues boil over..hubby goes home, sister stays for 8 months. Trying to help her with her depression, care for mom, work full time, daily life hurdles and speedbumps......

Wait. Am I still breathing?
Inhale. Exhale.

Falling further and further behind. Sis tries and helps some, but causes more work and stress regardless. Sister going home now, sigh of relief.

Sister #2 comes to stay the very next day, caught in-between homes temporarily. Did I mention my suite is tiny?

2017 begins and so does the sorrow. I am now worn out and sick. Risking TMI, I am so backed up, the pain is excruciating. Days off work. Missed my birthday, but so did everybody else, thanks guys. I start to notice that regardless of how sick/tired I am, everyone around me just carries on with their own lives. Like I am not even there or at best an afterthought????
Sorrow weighs heavy on the heart.....
Everyone now squared themselves away. I am on my own again. Sigh of relief.
Wait. What's this feeling of drowning? Just keep swimming...now I'm sinking. Try harder. Work faster.
The only time I hear from siblings is when they need something...everyone wants more, more, more. No one will make a move, a decision, and all responsibility is mine and mine alone. Cracks become fissures. I shake. Coherent sentences escape me. I'm screaming in my head all the time.
Stop. Breathe.
What do I do?
Ask for help. OK.
Honestly open up. HELP ME. I'M DROWNING.
Yup. I get a deflated life raft sewn together with empty promises.
Anger fuels me. Pull myself up.
Set new goal. Make new plan.
Steel myself for hard work. I shall be victorious!
Nope. With that raw lump of bitterness in my throat, I ask for help again. This time I am very specific. Is there hope?

Sister #1 plans to visit again with the sole purpose of helping me. I lay out my request. I need to complete the dehoarding of mom's place so day to day tasks are manageable. I have 2 weeks of holidays from work. 1 week back and then another off. I require sisters dedication and focus on the task at hand. To be priority #1 until project complete. No side distractions. None. Period.
She agrees. She promises.

I ask sister #2 for help with specific tasks on specific days. Schedule me in please.

I relax a little bit knowing that help is coming. With this project done, a lot of pressure will be gone. I am hopeful.

Bwahahahaahahaha.... .

My so called time off begins. I begin to work. My sister goes to the beach. A church weekend rally adding on an extra day while I watch her dog. WTF??
Returning only to tell me that she is picking up granddaughter to come and stay. WTF?!?!?!
How is that not a distraction.
Sister #2 shows up but leaves soon after due to my attitude.
Wow. I've warned everyone in earshot how stressed I am and I may react badly. Apologies ahead of time. Never got the second days time from her.....
Spent every waking moment of 2 weeks doing the job on my own. This includes moving furniture, sanding and painting, yard work etc.
A team of one.
While my sister keeps promising me that she'll be here as long as I need her....flitting away to go swimming now....I lose it.
The screaming has come back with the shakes. As a special treat, vomiting has now joined the party hand in hand with uncontrollable bouts of crying.
I can't verbalize anymore and am afraid to open my mouth for the profane nastiness that will spew forth.

Returning to work, I ask useless #1 to take care of all the daily chores and I will continue on the project. Make sure to feed me etc. Tasks better suited to her possibly.....

Reality....I spend the week going to work. Return home to do HER chores, mom's stuff, then my stuff, make my own dinner at 2am (not a typo) bed, get up and do it all over again. For a week.
I am going to hit her with this shovel. Swallowing all these emotions to maintain a calm with mom.
Enough is enough. I am leaving for my last week off. Project undone. Whatever. This is a must.

I say I'll be gone and she'll need to be responsible for mom.

Can't. Have to leave.
What? You'll be here as long as I need you and now that I need you....poof. gone.

Crushed. Devastated. Dumfounded. Gobsmacked. Heartbroken.

She had watched me slave, shake, vomit, breakdown, cry, scream, collapse and after caring for her for 8 months in her time of need, after caring for her mother too, this is the support and compassion I am given.

You are not my sister.

#1 cries to #2, who then calls me to say I'm being harsh and need to fix this.
????????????
Do I need to be dead for anyone to care?

Mom takes a turn for the worse. I start to think about her mortality, then my mortality, then my dogs mortality, death, death,death.

If the will splits the house among all, they will want to sell and I'll have no where to go, no friends, no one cares, am I really here...welcome anxiety!
Irrational fears taking over. In my head, all I have cared for these past years is dead and I'm living under a bridge, invisible. I'm scared to death of growing old. If Noone cares for me now what happens when I'm old and infirm?
Sheesh. Anything else?
I'm caught between not wanting to be trapped hereally and not wanting to go out into the world. Limbo.
I'm becoming (become?) someone I don't want to be.
I'm not even a real person anymore, I'm just stress and sadness. It was better when I felt invisible then knowing I'm in plain sight just ignored. This forum, God bless you, is my only confidant.
2017 was an emotional mess. Definitely scarred. Still bitter.
I battle every day between the loss of my life's choices and freedoms, the overwhelming anxiety, my broken heart and the stress that binds it all together. And I'm one of the lucky ones. Mom is still with it, capable of basic self care, happy and appreciative. My situation is heaven compared to the realities of so many others.

Ahhhhh, this is only the tip of the iceberg but I'm going to put my baggage down for awhile....I'll end saying that mom is doing much better now. I'm slowly working through the backlog (paperwork, taxes, blah blah blah). I'm releasing myself from my expectations of others and of myself.

I'm still very bitter and angry and sad. I will need to concentrate on not feeding negativit.

My motto of 2017 was "people suck. I hate people"

My motto for 2018 is "love thyself. Do good. Be kind.
And if you can't be kind, be quiet. (OK, I'm still working on that)...
Breathe.

Hugs to all of you, going through a rough time.
Love to all of you who give all your love to others.
Thanks to all of you for being there.
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Reply to Mojorox
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I took care of my mother for 17 years before getting her in an Assisted Living place a couple years ago. She was in her home, in a wheelchair with an ostomy. It got harder and harder over the years. One time I was driving to get groceries just outside town. Something snapped in me and I drove 100 miles before I came back to myself and reluctantly returned. No one really knows how it feels, do they?
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Rosyday, I can so relate. Antidepressants do not work for me and have horrible side effects - and think about what it says that we're supposed to take medications ourselves because caregiving is so hard?

Sometimes I wish I could run away but Mom needs me.
My life is basically over. This is just reality. I'm coming to think that caregivers don't have lives.
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