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How to balance looking after your own mental health needs while being a caregiver. My mother has never been an easy person to share my feelings with. She's not the most sensitive/tactful person and tends to be very negative.

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coulditbeme,
I have depression and GAD (General Anxiety Disorder). I handle life well and am on medication for both. I'm so sorry to hear your family gives you such a hard time about your mental health problems. Finding and seeing the right counselor has been so fantastic for me I can't say enough good about it. I hope this happens for you despite the obstacles.

I don't take garbage from most people. I will consider a well thought out statement that might be true. I research and learn all I need to know to feel comfortable and confident about my illnesses. It does help. I hope some day you can say the same thing, too. I'd love to be at your side and stick up for you when someone tries to put you down.

As long as you are doing the best you can for your Mom and your brother, there's nothing more anyone can expect. You may disappoint yourself, but your limit IS your best. You are in a tough situation and can't change that right now. I hope there will come a time when your Mom does qualify for Medicaid because the amounts to qualify may change in the future. I wish I lived near you because I would help you out however I could. Do you live in FL?

Please don't let your relatives make you feel any less a person because you have a mental illness. Many people have a MI and your family would be quite surprised if they knew all the people who had them. Many lead normal and productive lives. And certainly we aren't to be belittled as if diabetes or coronary heart disease is okay but OCD or anxiety is not. They are all physiological diseases.
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coulditbeme, we've had a few mental health threads on AC. A surprising number of us, myself included, have anxiety disorders. I have had a few bouts with panic disorder. It affected my life greatly and still does. If someone asks me to hop on an airplane and go to Italy, I can't even imagine being trapped that long in a flying box over the ocean. SCREAMMMM! So no Italy for me.

Having a mental illness also affects the way family sees you. Even if it has been years, they still remember the "crazy" person you once were. If I mention anything about the panic, people just get real quiet. They don't really get it when it comes to these things that are so common for many.

coulditbeme, you didn't mention what was wrong except you had a mental illness. It may be the reason you didn't get any replies. I found myself wondering if it was anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, personality disorder (going out of manual now), or something else. There are a lot of us here that do have histories talked about in other threads. I wonder if it in some way may have led to us becoming the caregivers.
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Thank you for your post! The people who run from this issue are still trying to fake wellness, or are themselves hurting so much they cannot address it once a label has been put out there. Please don't feel all alone. Have your boudaries up, and continue to care like you do. Your counselor should try to teach you to stand up to your Mom's and your families abuse, or you will not get well.
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Have you ever noticed when mental illness is brought up, there are very few replys to those who have posted. This is the case whether you are on other blogs or this one. I hope everyone who has a mental illness finds peace and solace knowing that there are those of us who really do care. I would like to see more threads written on this site. In my area of the world, counselors whether professional or just someone to talk to is few and far between. How are you today?
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I too suffer from a mental illness. I have never admitted it publicly to anyone. A psychologist convinced me that I should talk with my family especially my Mom and Dad regarding my diagnosis and the problems I have. Well, I did and I have been alienated, made fun of, told over and over "you know that your problem is causing you to feel that way. Mom could never have said that or acted that way toward you". I worked two and three jobs to raise my daughter, own a home and take care of all my business myself. Never asked for or borrowed anything from anyone except a loan company. I retired with full retirement to later have chronic conditions that have made me totally disabled. Now, I am taking care of my Mom and my special needs brother as their full time caregiver. No other sibling will assist me. I won't beg them anymore. Mom does not qualify for Medicaid (over by $40) therefore, we can't get Aides etc. I had spinal fusion w/several diagnoses in Jan 2015 to make matters worse. I am still trying my best however, my best is in the worst category now. I am just not physically or mentally able. My parents kept us clothed and fed. We never went anywhere only worked, worked. We weren't even sent to Bible School. Mom blames everything on Dad (deceased 2007) that she didn't do, accomplish etc. She doesn't drive. I have been taking care of my family in some sort of role since I was 10 yrs old (no kidding!). I am still doing it. I think I should have put this post under "my whine moment blog". I will stop now. Sorry too long of post.
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I suffer from OCD but have always been able to hold a job full time. I am caregiver for my Mom, What I struggle with the most is self doubt, guilty for things I shouldn't feel guilty for? worried all the time, feeling extra stress at times since being a caregiver.
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Love this. And it is so true.
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I am the sole caregiver to my daughter who lives in a nursing home with a severe tbi. I always had severe anxieties. I was on all kinds of meds over the years. the only med that worked really well for me was valium strangely enough.
I have on my bedroom wall a saying. it goes.:
' if you ae depressed, you are living in the past.
if you are anxious you are living in the future.
if you are at peace you are living in the present'
written by lao Tzu
I find a lot of peace when I read this saying. there is a lot of truth in it.
thank you
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I have been in and out of depression since I was a teenager. It wasn't until I was in my 30's that a wonderful psychologists linked my suicidal tendencies to traumas I experienced in my childhood. Now in my 50's I have managed to stay strong and on an even keel until my stepfather died and my mother started looking to me to take care of all her wants and needs. At first it wasn't so bad, but her demands increased to a point where now I avoid her at much as possible except for medical appointments. Her needs upon me were so overwhelming and the guilt for not wanting to meet them all caused an increase in drinking just to cope. I knew I could not go on this way, I was slowly killing myself. So I sought out counseling and doing so realized I was not capable of being my mother's future fulltime caregiver. The guilt I was feeling was because of the type of person I am, kind and considerate. The avoidance was a survival instinct to keep myself emotionally safe. With this guidance and understanding I can still help my mother, but only from a distance and not hands on. My mother will never understand where I am coming from, she is to needy, codependent and self indulgent. So I continue to do what I can and try to not dwell on her situation with anger and guilt. Her future is not my future.
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Very helpful to hear how others deal with their mental health issues AND being a caregiver. Talking about it decreases the feelings of isolation. We need to put our mental health first before anything or anyone else in order to have the continued strength needed to be caregivers.
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Mimialoha, I agree completely. I actually am very much into fitness ( and walk daily with both my elderly Bichon Frise as well as my big silly Bernese Mountain Dog) and eat a vegetarian diet. I am taking baby steps to being vegan. One job is physical ( interior painter) and that serves as a sort of release. My other job is delivering pizza and driving time is inner reflection time for me. I also garden and do home repairs, etc. I think since my husband has passed I have become more handy than he was, out of necessity. And my girls can use a variety of tools too!
Jessiebelle thanks.
You guys are very sweet.
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kmaier, I am so sorry to hear about your husbands passing. Please, please you need to find time to grieve his death. Your mother will suffer, your children,your pets and your job. We have to find time for us...I make sure and have a walk before my care giving day starts, eat healthy meals and try to get enough rest, even if it is in the afternoon when Mom takes her nap. I wish I could do something for you, just talk and get your feelings heard, this may help. It did me, I have found a mental healing with this website. Thank God for all of you!!!!
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kmaier, you have a big heart backed by determination. You also have my admiration. I wish I weren't so poor. I would treat you to a week at the spa.
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I am quickly developing them. When my Mom's dementia started becoming very noticeable, I also lost my husband to cancer. I have not had time to grieve his death. I sometimes catch little glimpses of the pain that I am in. But for now, I just don't have the luxury of grief. ( I also have an 11 and nearly 13 year old ...plus 4 pets, a household to manage and 2 jobs)
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I to have mental issues, I am bi-polar but under control with new medications. I am the 24/7 caregiver of my 94 year old mother. As I told the doctors years ago I hate the depression but love the manic, both are under control. I was very hurt by my brother telling me he read it is harder to care give having mental issues and I may not be the right person for this job. His solution would be to put Mom in AL. My heart is so full of love!! This is what counts. Through thick or thin I will always be here for my mom, just as I was for my father in law during his last days. I know myself and I can tell if I need a change in medication or counseling help before my state of mind changes to much. We are caring, loving people too!!!!
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I have a diagnosed mental illness that requires several medications a day and as long as I take those medications and pay attention to warning signs I am ok. But caregiving has pushed this illness to the limit. And like any chronic illness I need to take care of myself in ways that work for me so I'm not juggling caregiving AND symptoms of the illness. But it takes work on my part. Just as a diabetic may need insulin shots several times a day or someone with COPD may need nebulizer treatments, I need to take care of my illness so it doesn't get out of control. This may sound stupid but I make sure I get enough sleep. That in and of itself can be work but I don't apologize if I have to go to bed at 8pm some nights. I also ensure that I have at least one whole day where I'm not running around doing errands, working, or doing housework. I make myself sit and rest. One more thing I do is I get up in plenty of time to ease into my day. I am not good at hitting the ground running in the mornings. I need to be slow and relaxed and I've found that this enables me to have a better day.

So take care of your personal well-being. Come up with some rules for yourself that you follow in order to maintain good mental health. Unfortunately many of us are surrounded by people who think mental illness is a weakness or a character flaw. They may not understand our need to take our mental health into consideration. That's been my experience. But I take care of myself anyway because when I'm not in balance for extended periods of time it affects everything I do from parenting to working to caregiving. I guard my mental health and take it very seriously. But if I were to explain that to someone who hasn't experienced it they wouldn't understand so I don't discuss it with anyone. I just do what I need to do to stay mentally healthy regardless of what's going on around me. It takes practice but I've gotten the hang of it.

Take care of you :-)
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I've had depression since age 5 and anxiety issues since about age 13. I work full time and am single as well. Thankfully in my country we have government funded CCAC (community care access centre). It's a gateway to services available in the community. Just getting my mom to agree to an assessment by them was like pulling teeth. Now she has someone come in for 1-2 hours a day, and they bath her, do housework, etc.

Even with this assistance, I still get stressed out and find I need someone to talko to. I'm very thankful my employer has an EAP program. I have made use of their free counselling numerous times. What I struggle with the most is self doubt, worry about the future, and how to deal with all the emotional jabs I get from my mom I'm slowly learning how to assert myself with my mom. I find the worst thing for me is when I self isolate too much.
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I've struggled with depression for the last three decades and am very concerned that what little mental health I do have will shatter like glass when the full responsibility for my mother hits me. I am very scared of the future. Sorry to be so dramatic.
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Oops-meant OCD ---and insomnia.
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i wasnt the poster boy for stability even before caregiving if thats whatya mean..
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*raising hand. Yup. I have OCC and panic attacks. And my daughter , an awesome 16 year old, has multiple disabilities. I am not my Mom full time caregiver, my80 year old Dad is but I do try and give him breaks and it is assumed , I am pretty sure, that if/when needed I will take over her care. I don't know if I have it in me to take her on full time or if my daughter could handle it. I really love the idea of it but it just may not be feasable. In our home, I mean. I will take care of her but may need to have her on an AL or something if anything happens to Dad. I have a very supportive husband but I can only ask him for so much before I break him. :0/.

Soooo, how about you? Do you balance your needs well? It is hard.
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