I know this place is supposed to soothe, unite, support and otherwise care for those affected by issues of caregiving, dementia, etc., but I've always had a difficult time being here. Not that it's a bad place -- it's actually one of the more extraordinarily empathetic sites I've ever read through.

I remember at the beginning, when I first found it -- 'here'. I read for probably two hours that day, devouring it all, getting more and more depressed with each word. I felt so sorry for you all, so sorry that you had it so much worse than we do. My heart broke, I cried tears for many of you -- people I had never met. I closed out the screen that day thinking this would be a daily visit, a touchstone, a source of education and help. But then I stayed away long periods of time after realizing that I was always depressed after having visited. Occasionally I would just drop in via email click because of something in the newsletter that pertained to my concerns, each time invariably leaving the site armed with answers and a heavy heart.

Now that things have changed and are so much worse, I came back again with some desperate hope, I suppose, that *TA-DA!* -- I would be bathed in this wonderful, healing light, this sense of purpose and reason.

I get so frightened reading what will/can/has gone bad. So many answers don't apply to me because I take care of my mom alone. No other family, except distant relatives in Europe. No one she's talked to in more than three decades. I've taken care of her alone for two years now, first at her house next door, now in my own home.

Two people live inside my mom now. The first is the sweet, quiet-as-a-mouse, loving, kind, little ballerina woman with a hilariously surprising sense of humor who raised me. Truly my best friend for the past fifty-five years. The other is the disease: a mean and emotionally abusive, manipulative and difficult woman who yells hurtful insults and tells me she doesn't love me.

I know it's supposed to, but it doesn't comfort me to read that what is tearing my heart out now will get worse. It doesn't bring a sisterhood or kinship to the feeling of being a caregiver. I rarely get through the written words because I can't see anymore. I've thought about it long and hard... is it refusing to face reality? Fear? Is it because reading a clinical article, no matter how precise or well-written, is impersonal and general by it's very virtue, but here -- here, there are real people crying out in real grief and loss?

You know what's weird? I used to read things like that and think, "GEEZ, people, they're not dead!" And before I say that it was in no way meant to imply that anyone with Alz or dementia is dead -- just that the feeling of them "slipping away" right before your eyes is more painful than... a compound fracture, 47 hours of hard labor pains, Marine Corps boot camp... well, ANYTHING. I'm absolutely horrified and embarrassed to admit that I remember how I judged people who said things like that. I'm so sorry.

If this post makes it, it will be a minor miracle. (I've written probably 5-8 but always close the page without posting.)

Why am I here? Why do I keep coming back even though it breaks my heart? Is it because reality hurts? Does this ever happen to anyone else or is it just me?

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Bodybytes - I LOVE your post. Its so honest.

I'm 55, I lost my Mom is Alzheimers 4 weeks ago after caring for her by my lonesome for 2 1/2 yrs.

Yes it was depressing, backbreaking, impoverishing - and yet I know I would chose to do it all over again because it was the right thing for me to do for my Mom in our particular situation.

There are threads here with WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL women (and men) who will lift you up with comraderie, laughter, totally inappropriate crude jokes - whatever it takes to get through the day. And the long nights. They will also stand vigil with you when your loved one is dying. As a virtual circle of friends who have been through what I have been through, I could not have had better company in my Mom's final days, or in the days since. They have been a blessing to me. This is why I keep coming back. Reality sucks - but there is strength in numbers, and misery loves company, does it not?

I don't think this indicates anything is wrong with you, BodyBytes.

Many, many of the stories on here are sad. Some describe very real injustices. Lots of pain gets vented here.

We each have our own reactions and limits. It is good to know your own needs and limits and respect them. Which is stronger? The benefits of reading the posts here, or the drawback of your own depressed mood after reading them? Could you be more selective about what you choose the read, to increase the benefits and reduce the drawbacks?

I am one of perhaps four adults on this continent who didn't follow the 9/11 live coverage. I didn't have the television on all that week. I got occasional brief news clips from the internet. That certainly made me unusual but I don't think it meant something was wrong with me. I knew myself well enough to know what I could handle. I did what I had to do to stay functional.

Caregiving is lonely work. I find it useful to hear about what other caregivers are going through and suggestions for handling difficult situations. Not necessarily because I will ever face those particular issues, but because it makes me feel less alone.

We each have our reasons for being here. But there is nothing "wrong" with not being here. It is totally up to you. You need to do what works for you.

Dear BodyBites, there is absolutely nothing wrong in bein an empathetic person. II am sorry you don't feel comforted knowing that other people go through the same things you are going through (and as far as absent siblings, believe me, you are in a very good company... and I know many people on this site who take care of their relatives 24/7 with no help, so that they have problems to go to the groceries because they can't leave their relative alone for 5 minutes...) If the sad stories of other people make you sadder, it means you have a big heart. But maybe the tears that you cry for other people are liberatory - and so, after a while, you could get used to it and take this site far what (I think) it is... A way not to feel alone in dealing with unbearable problems (my mother is a lot like yours, for example) and have some good advices, too, from people who have been there before you...
If you prefer to take your mind off your problems by reading a book or watching a good movie, I approve 100%. I do the same, by the way. I think I need both things. Forget, some moments of the day, and acknowledge, other moments of the day
Take care, whatever you decide to do!

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