When caring for someone, how much stress is too much and what does this stress do to our bodies?

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My mom thinks that its easy breezy to care for her, that there shouldn't be any stress involved. I think stress has caused my body to start breaking down. I went to doctor 6 months ago because of ear pain which turned into jaw pain (I had been grinding my teeth at night and when I woke up I would find my finger prints indented into the palms of my hands) doctor told me I had TMJ and a whole lot of stress. He recommended me to go see a mental health clinic, my mom was furious over that comment and told me I was fine and didn't need to go see anyone. 2 months after that I had severe face, head, and neck pain all on my right side. Went to doctor and he diagnosed me with Trigeminal Neurolgia. I was given Tegritol for it. Is all the stress causing this, can it cause this? I haven't been sleeping very well, my mom won't let me go to sleep at a decent hour because she doesn't think she can go long without me being around so I'm lucky if I get to bed by 12 or 1 a.m. I feel like I'm constantly being grumbled at for something. I have been told not stop that I'm lazy and selfish. When I told mom that I wanted some help to care for her, she told me she only wanted me to take care of her--then I got a speel about how when she was young and had 4 kids she cared for all of them and the household and never once complained. Someone please help-I feel like I'm going crazy!

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Top Answer
Was she a slavedriver when you were little? Even with the stroke, she's still in control. ... Where you go, what to wear where, etc..

It looks like you're heading for a stroke, and the only way to prevent that is to serve notice you're taking charge of your own life. If she doesn't like it, then give her a phone so she can make other arrangements as it looks to me she's recovering quite well.

Heaven forbid you have some sort of breakdown. Instead of taking responsibility for it, she'll try to make you feel guilty for that too. After all, how dare you have a stroke when there are so many things you're supposed to be doing for her? Her needs, her wants, her whims: who's going to cater to them?

Best Xmas present you can give yourself is taking your life back.
Does your mom see the irony in only wanting her lazy selfish daughter to take care of her? You gotta either laugh or cry.

I don't know whether stress is causing your health problems, but it sure as heck isn't helping any.

You certainly don't need your mother's permission to go to a mental health clinic. Go. It is very hard to take care of your mother and of your own health at the same time. Hard, but essential. If you have to slack off a little with your mother while you focus on your needs for a while, so be it.

When your mother was taking care of you, did she ask your permission to bring in a babysitter? You need help. Your mother doesn't get to dictate how many hours you have to devote to her. You are the decision-maker in this situation. Seeing a mental health counselor will help you establish boundaries and to take an adult role even if your mother still sees you as a child under her control.

Your sick mother is experiencing a lot of stress, too. It is very admirable that you are committed to helping her inspite of her poor behavior. I am not at all suggesting that you stop caring for her. But you need to do it on your terms. Get some help -- first for your self, and then to help you care for Mom.

You are not going crazy, you are just caught up in a crazy situation.
You know, I read Jeanne's answer and it sounds perfect to me and is what I would say to someone else as well. Funny but it's just not as easy when you are the person having to put your foot down. My mom is supposed to be in the hospital right now for depression. Dr. wants her there. What happened? She begged me not to bring her and so, once again, I give in. My mom too demands every minute of my time. I have a wonderful marriage to a man I hardly see anymore due to my time spent with mom (she lives with us). I went to the cleaners yesterday, was gone for 1/2 hour and she was livid that we took so long! She just can't comprehend things now. The dementia is moving fast. I've tried making appts with pshycologists etc but I always seem to have an emergency that makes me come last. Sad really because if we aren't healthy, we can't take care of anyone. I really wish you the best and please know that your stress can only be hurting you. Go seek help. I'm on mega doses of prozac at this point. Your mom doesn't want you to go because she grew up in the era where having depression or stress was looking down upon and you certainly didn't take meds for it. My mom is the same.
A big hug to you and have a blessed Holiday!
I remember coming to this site a couple of months ago saying exactly what you have posted here. Like you stress was killing me, and had manifested itself into daily headaches, then migraines, a tiredness that was overwhelming and I was angry all the time. Looking after my 84 year old mother nearly made me go mad. It wasn't until I got to this site which lead me to the website daughers of narcissistic mothers, that gave me the biggest wake up call ever.

Now my mother is in full time care (much to her horror) but with support I learnt exactly how to deal with it. I no longer have headaches or that tiredness and depression and I am happy again. We deserve lives too, and the more you give to your mother the more she will expect, once you can deal with the guilt of putting your foot down and saying 'no more' you will find your health will slowly improve, but when you're stuck in it you won't can't think straight.

My mother is behaving so much better with the little digs now and again which get ignored and not tolerated anymore, I am free now to put my life back together and live this life I've been given, once you take back control, it is an incrediable feeling. Oh and she has 24/7 care and is well cared for where she is...a win win for all in my opinion.
Your mum sounds exactly like mine, until you realise that no matter how 'good' you are to her, it will never be enough. If she is anything like my mother, she will feel this is your duty to her, and you will look after her no matter what your situation is. Your mother knows you well and will 'play' on those vunerabilities of yours. As sad as it sounds your sisters may well be mean not wanting to help out, but just maybe they just want to live their lives peacefully without drama...I don't know. All families have dramas but alot seem to be centred around the matriach of the family, which from my experience seems to be the mother.

If you won't put her in a nursing home, or if she refuses to go the only thing you can do is change the way you react or as cmagnum says detach, I don't how you can do that when it is with you every day. I couldn't. The emotional rollercoaster really started when I did put my mother into care which is just beautiful with lovely staff that are paid to take care of her every need. The guilt, the manipulation has got worse as you can imagine I am the crap daughter who has turned my back on her and put her in the living hell that she now lives...I realised it doesn't matter whether she was living with me or not I still have that awful feeling of dread.

I have decided on no contact with her she is 84, and believe me it is not easy. She won't let go easily, and by getting my sister and her only friend to text and call me yesterday at my new job, ruined my day completely, I could've sat down and cried. I couldn't sleep last night wondering how did this all happen.

The ONLY thing I can do is change how I react to her carryings on, I have 2 choices 1) to put up and shut up and accept this is my lot end of or 2) I have a life, I am a good person that deserves to be happy and not just exist to please my mother, I have this life its up to me to steer it in the direction I want it to go...Personally I opt for 2) it's just as hard as option 1) maybe even harder...but the outcome has got to be better. My advice (and I'm doing this too everyday), is you have to toughen up, don't be bullied anymore, your life is important, and the choice is yours to just exist or actually live it...(someone got tough with me, and I tell you best thing ever, tho sometimes I want to crawl into a corner somewhere and rock lol....
My health problems started about 3 -4 years ago. While I neglected to take care of myself because of taking care of mom. I developed some serious problems and am looking at 2 surgeries.....stemming from stress. One in which the cure is worse than the problem and I will fight having to get it. I walked around for months (all summer) with bacterial pnemounia and didn't go to doc,. Now they are pumping me with all kinds of meds, my immune system is racing 100 miles an hour just to keep up. My mom is not demanding and is a sweetheart. It is just the stress, worry, lack of freedom and giving up your life that takes a toll on you. I do have a lot of work that falls on me because of her.... it's like running a mini nursing home with 1 employee.
On a good note for Christmas my daughter and son in law gave us a night stay at the JW Marriott (this swank new luxurous hotel in Indianapolis) and they are going to come and stay with mom so we can get away for the weekend. Ahhhhhh, it is a dream come true. You have to get out. I hire a caregiver service for the important things that I can't miss. I have missed so many of my grandkids events, but no more. But I just started doing it lately, because doc said I need to get out. So long story.....whatever it takes, try to get respite care and get out. It is very hard to to, sometimes almost impossible.
DO NOT neglect yourself like I did. I'm paying for it now.
Dear Larck, Please take care of yourself. This not getting enough sleep is very disturbing to me. Sleep is very important. Some studies say that not enough sleep can cause cancer, hence the name the graveyard shift. If it were me, I would move her into a facility of some kind and take my life back, either that or hire some help for about five days a week to help you. Sure she won't like it, but too bad. You have have health to take care of. If it continues like this, then after she is gone, you won't have your health and it won't have been worth it.
My first thought when I read this question:

"When caring for someone, how much stress is too much and what does this stress do to our bodies?"

...anyone asking this question has probably already experienced too much stress - to the point that is the stress is affecting their physical/emotional/spiritual health. If your primary care doctor is recommending professional mental health services, GO! Typically, primary care doctors only recommend such services in the most extreme cases (this may or may not be true for your doc.) Also, find and participate in caregivers support groups in your community. Also, remember that no matter what you do, whether you take care of yourself or not, your mother will probably still call you selfish and lazy. It's not about you and you cannot control her thinking. You can decide how much power you give to her negativity. Blessings to you both.
OK, just make a doctor appointment for yourself and put your mother under either a temporary private or nursing home. If you doctor confirms that your own health is suffering, then sorry, your mother needs to be put into a permanent care arrangement and your caregiving duties are terminated. You are then no longer available to care for your mother; do not feel guilty about accepting help even if your mother gets mad at you. You have faith that you are properly taking care of yourself.
I'm so sorry that you've been put in this situation! My heart goes out to you. I'm in a very similar situation. I used to do counted cross-stitch, quilt, paint, write, amoung many other hobbies I really enjoyed. Now I do nothing, since living with my mom and s-dad who I'm the sole caregiver for. They don't like lights on. The house is dark and lacks joy. All I do now is what I must for them, and then stay in bed most all day everyday. The stress of caring for others (physically & emotionally) has made my chronic pain conditions and depression 100 times worse. I have panic attacks. I grieve losing all of my middle aged years... years that we can't get back. I'm on Disability myself for CRPS/FIBRO/RSD/SEVERE DEPRESSION, yet I'm the only one to care for these people. My mom knows and see's the pain I'm in, but they have needs they want & need met. They absolutely refuse outside help and since it's their house & they're of sound mind, I can't demand they accept help other than myself. I love my mother, but would move out fast if I could. Being on disability I have no money to move, and cannot get any Assistance b/c "I make too much money." Stress will cause illness, or cause existing problems to get worse!!! I wish you could get some respite and peace. You deserve it and NEED it. I find that praying helps alot. I'll certainly be praying for you! Keep sharing your concerns, anxieties and how you're doing, here with others who understand and are here to love and support you. (((HUGS))) ~ Kathy

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