Approaching burnout and racked with guilt at 33.

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I feel like I need help. Not financial help. Not emotional help. Like tangible actionable help. I’m overwhelmed. I’m drowning. I feel guilty. I feel resentful. I feel like giving up. To say I was underprepared by the overwhelming nature of what caretaking is and how much it takes out of you is an understatement. I thought it would be easier – manageable even. I thought I’d have more help. I don’t know what I thought, I just knew that I had to take my dad in – it was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do for my mom as well.

I feel like nothing is going to save me from the inevitable fallout. I feel that in trying to juggle the relationships around me they are instead all starting to fail. I am constantly worried about everyone and their moods and what’s on their plates and not trying to push anyone all at the expense of myself. I feel like my girlfrien is stressed, overwhelmed at not having a partner and a relationship anymore but rather living in what may be the expected reality of a married woman after 40 years. We both work full time and I try to be conscientious of her needs and her own stresses that have nothing to do with our home life. Adding to that however is the reality that our home life further compounds any other stress at any given time.

My mom is stressed. She is also diabetic with high blood pressure in her 60s and has become increasingly inactive, withdrawn to her room, and less reliable as a resource for help. I have to constantly remind myself that she is here with us for an entirely separate circumstance than my father, who is turning 88, and that they are divorced and had been living separately until now for 15+ years. Little things she used to be open to doing more regularly she is seemingly no longer open to doing. After our last blowup and how that affected me I am hesitant to ask her to do anything beyond what I feel she is willingly self-motivated to do – which isn’t much. I’m frustrated and burdened by the fact that she, unlike my dad, is mobile and independently able to do things but financially tied and reliant on me to do most things for her and/or in the very least in my company.

My dad on the other hand is financially independent and contributes to his room and board but in the realest sense of becoming a ‘caretaker’ requires assistance with everything else. His medical appointments are getting longer and more frequent. I spend hours each week sorting out his medications, contacting doctors, facilitating all aspects of his medical care – all aside from the time missed at work to accompany him to appointments and lab draws and to make sure that he is both receiving adequate care and asking/retaining the information we need to manage him at home.

Most nights I want to go home after work and immediately shut the doors and close off from everything but on most nights, I’m either stressing about dinner when my mom isn’t in the mood, which stresses not only me but solicits complaints from my father about ‘things not working’ out, and also solicits frustration from my girlfriend who like myself – had been at work all day and doesn’t want to deal with anything more for the night. I stress about managing expectations. I stress about the stress I know others will feel when said expectations are not met. I struggle to find a balance when my dad corners me with his laundry list of items and deciding between postponing things to the weekends or just dealing with things right then and there. But then come weekends – short precious weekends – and I find myself busy juggling with personal errands; communal errands (like groceries and household necessities); assessing bills and finances for my dad; chores – usually bed linen and bathroom towel laundry and/or cleaning the bathroom itself, or moving things, reorganizing things, etc for him; doing our own laundry; worrying about meals – CONSTANTLY – out of guilt that I’m not home during the week to help so I want to give my mom time ‘off’ but as there is increasingly little time ‘on’ – the resentment creeps in. And it’s not her fault, nor is it her responsibility. And none of this is my dad’s fault, and it is my responsibility. I'm their only child. I also feel like I’m stretched incredibly thin trying be a loving and responsible kid, a bookkeeper, a chauffeur, a medical advocate, an ATM, a friend, a lover, and a good person in general. I feel in juggling it all I am halfassed at best.

I don’t have the answers. My intentions are falling short. Everyone is growing restless and resentment is silently fostering in us all. I feel I do nothing anymore but constantly chase my own tail and by no means can time spent with anyone be considered ‘quality’ time spent with me. I can feel it. I’m drowning. I feel as though I started out as a person motivated by the purest of intentions and now grapple with my own darkness as the cloud of self-doubt, guilt, anger and resentment shield me from any hint of my former self.

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Jaspur, you really thought you could do it all, and do it all well, and found out you can't. Welcome to the club. Your average "working mom" has been a member lifelong. When you find yourself in the spot of not only having to prioritize the most important things, but then having to decide WHICH of the most important things will get done...Lord help me, I don't know what to tell you if there is no tangible help you can count on. It is a bad place to be. I will just pray for you that you are not there long and you will be granted a spare minute to find a geriatric care manager, home care aide, something or somebody who can reliably pitch in. See if you can get to the Area Agency on Aging and find out what might be available. Maybe one of the people who is missing the usual "you" would be willing to gather info for you even if they can't help with other stuff??
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Your dad should be in assisted living. Your mom could then be less of a burden.
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I really agree with the above comments. You need to know your "line in the sand". You're only human and have limitations. Both for your sake and theirs, there comes a time that they can get better care elsewhere than you can provide. Look into what's available in your area and depending on the level of care they need you should be able to find a place that is more suitable than your present situation. All the best! Whatever you do, don't feel guilty - you have done the best you can - realize that sometimes it shows more love to let someone else do the day to day stuff and you just be a very supportive son! You can end up with all of you resenting each other if this keeps up and you really don't want to live with that in the future!
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Nailed it. Hugs to you and your girlfriend...
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You are a Saint! You should not be doing everything alone. You must get tough, young man, and make a firm decision to find housing for your mother at least. Does your partner help you at all? I know working full-time causes burnout and tiredness but maybe she could be some help to you just out of compassion. I hope you find a solution soon because you don't want to crash and burn at such a young age. God bless you.
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Wow, Jasper, my heart goes out to you. I can't imagine how difficult this is for you. For your mother, depression may be an issue (I know it was with mine, almost all my life she has been depressed, but very severely last year) but now she's seeing a psychiatrist she likes and taking anti depressants that seem to help. She is less withdrawn and more interested in doing things for herself.

I agree with many of the other commenters - about looking into ALFs - perhaps Medicaid can help your mother financially? The ALFs will arrange to take your father to his appointments, and he will be accompanied by someone. There's always a cost but perhaps this makes sense? Your employer may be very understanding but maybe you need some help with all these doctor appointments.

I know you feel obligated to do this for your parents, but it may be impossible for you to do all this under these circumstances plus a full time job. You have to take into account your own health (physical and emotional). This does not sound like a good long term solution and would be really challenging for someone who did not have a full time job.

My parents lived on my street and I was there almost every day. Soon it became clear the house was too much for them but my mother didn't want to move out. Their marriage has its ups and major downs. I started with a "Geriatric Consultant" who helped me find good doctors and a good ALF for my parents, which they now really like. Now they are about 20 minutes away, I visit once a week, sometimes more. There is always a list of duties for me to perform the minute I walk in the door. I know they don't mean to use me, but there are many tasks that are not necessary and the reflex is to just ask me to do it - even things they can do. This is why I dread going - it really sucks the energy out of me. I frequently feel guilt, but try to remind myself that guilt is better than resentment - where the costs can be too dangerous, to all concerned. Please take care.
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It's been a week, Jaspur. Come back and talk to us! How are things at home? What are you considering doing? We care.
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I FEEL EVERBODYS PAIN!!!!!!! I livew/my mother&I THOUGHT I could handle her physical, BUT DIDN'T realize the mental!! I've been told 2 go 2 h---, Im a bit--, I'm an idiot, GOOD thing I had miscarriage, DIDN'T NEED&COULDN'T TAKE CARE OF BABY ANYWAY! My siblings get pissed if she says ONE THING 2 them on the phone&WILL NOT CALL or come by, BUT she says NOTHING VICIOUS like she does 2 me!! They say, OH JUST REMEMBER THAT'S NOT HER!! WELL, I'm w/her 24/7, so whem she says the small things 2 them&they get mad, I WANT 2 say, OOOOOH, JUST REMEMBER, THAT'S NOT HER! Easier for them that are NEVER AROUND, THINKS IT SOOOOO EASY! I've had NO rest&JUST EMOTIONALLY DRAINED! TEETERING OVER THE EDGE, HANGING ON HARD:'( I PRAY FOR ALL OF US!! GOD'S BEEN MY ONLY STRENGTH THRU THIS!
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Do look at micro communities. Do look at private board and care/6 packs. Do go back and visit places unannounced. Do go back again and look, see, observe, smell....Ask for copies of the contracts so you can look at them on your time. Do check out Adult Day Care Centers...Can Mom or Dad go one or 2 times a week? They usually give you a day with parent to test the "waters" to see if it is a good option for them. Some offer chair excerises, music, games, bingo, geography - Where in the World is this? Lunch, socializing....You will need a doctor's okay...
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I agree with everyone else here - you are in the prime of your life, and you are not treating yourself with anywhere near the care and respect you are affording your parents (even though you feel you have fallen short). Take all that love and concern you have for them, and use it to visit them frequently, and to make sure they have the support systems in place so that you can live your life too.

When I was looking at senior facilities for my dad, so many people told me how their kids forced them into them - and they are so glad that they did! Your mother may think she likes living with you, but I think it will likely be better and more energizing for her if she is with peers. In any case, she is able to care for herself, don't let her use up the energy you need to care for yourself and do your job.

Your dad definitely needs support. That's been well covered here. You may want to get a care manager (see, for example, www.caremanager.org) to help you sort these things out if you or your dad can afford it.

I agree with someone else who mentioned depression. This can make your very complicated situation seem that much worse and lessen your ability to see your way out. I wonder if your mother has similar issues?

Good luck.
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