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I am bipolar. I am on medication and try to do all the things that help me stay in check. My father-in-law is a very difficult man, and my husband is emotionally unavailable.
I wrote a discussion a while back about caregiving burnout and received many helpful messages.
That got me thinking about mental illness. There has to be many more caregivers with depression, bipolar,etc., than we realize. Is the topic taboo?
Any input or information would be helpful.
How do you cope with days that are real tough and you just want to hide? Or your love done had donne everything to get on your last nerve?
Thanks

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When you are a caregiver and live with the challenges of being bi-polar, you have an even greater imperative to take care of yourself first. Most caregivers feel guilty when they consider taking time for themselves. However you know too well that if you ignore the emotional and behavioral signs that you need to take a "time-out," you mental status will only spiral downward way to quickly. So take it from a 37 year veteran and doctor who has treated mental illness, take the time you need to stabilize your mood, music works great for many of my patients.
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I also live with bi-polar and thankful I am on the correct medicines to keep myself calmed down. I still have those days I just need to get away and be by myself so I put the alert bracelet on my Mother and take a walk, go to the store, go into the bedroom and take a rest, anything to get ME time to think through my situation. Hope this helped.
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Hi ThirdCoastGirl, I really feel for you. This may apply to you too, dinagrey. You both, are in very difficult situations. I don't have a mental illness, but some of the difficult, and trying days I have with my parents 1) w/Dementia, 1) w/Alzheimer's, can drive me " plum loco ". I don't have any medical insurance either. But I know a few things that keeps me strong, helps guide me through the day, helps keep me sane, and positive. And that's daily prayers to God, reading the Bible, watching Joel Osteen on Sunday mornings. My home exercise, my art, and my music. I even involve my parents, they surprisingly, enjoy it. I get out once in awhile. There's no better feeling then the relief of stress, and the guidance of God's presents to help me make it through my day. I am thankful, and I am grateful, for my good days, and great days to come. So stay in peace, don't let anger steal your joy, and leave it in God's hands he will guide you. He always guides me. Wish you 2 the best. Take care of yourselves, and take care of your loved ones. Sincerely Daddydaycare.
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I struggle with depression and am my Mothers caregiver. The one thing that I pray is that the depression does not take over because then I will not get out of bed. I do not have medical insurance but have found a way to get my anti-depressants by asking the doctor to write a years prescription so I will have refills when needed. I do pray a lot that I will not sink into the pit of depression while taking care of my Mother. I also realize that I have to get away a couple of times a month. This has been very challenging as no one really wants to hang out with Mom for a full day! Too bad, they can deal with one day while I deal with it 24/7. I also keep in mind that everything is temporary (even when it feels permanent) because everything in life in temporary- even our own lives. Take time for yourself, dump the guilt. My prayers are with you in this difficult time.
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After a lifetime of chronic mild to moderate depression, I challenged my therapist to "cure" me. She started teaching me about Tibetan Buddhism, compassion, and choosing happiness. I am surprised to admit that I am "cured!" This doesn't mean an end to struggle or bad days, but I now have a safety net that keeps me from going down too far.
My explanation of the cure is to start to love myself the same way that the Dalai Lama or Jesus would love me, faults and all. When I screw up, or when I'm disappointed, I know that I should comfort myself, rather than kicking myself. Being loving to myself makes me more loving to everyone in my life.
Try to love yourself.
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I too am bipolar. Add to that an extremely dysfunctional family (though my Dad has passed), and I'm considering extricating myself from it all. I have been trying to care for my Mom, (who has Alzheimer's and has always been very angry). My brother assaulted me for looking at his email. (He hates our Mom, but has no problem mooching off her). She is going to testify for HIM at the Temporary Restraining Order Hearing! How it is okay for me to have over $10K in medical bills, plus who knows how much an ambulance cost? I also had to have someone here to care for our Mom while I recovered (another $1-2,000).

If things don't change, I will take my name off the POAs and walk. If it's a choice between my Mom's health or mine, I'm going to choose me.
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I have Fibromyalgia (which can cause depression), COPD (which can be depressing just because it's really nice to breathe well and I can't...). I've also been diagnosed as bi-polar (Type 2? the "mild" form...) and am currently on medication. I have been depressed on & off for years, and in the past was treated, unsuccessfully, with the typical antidepressants, i.e., Prozac, Wellbutrin, etc. - They don't work for bi-polar! It can be really hard some days to be "there" for my 93 yr old Mom -- steady, rational, organized, and calm. I don't know the answer except to just keep moving... I love my Mom, who is mentally bright but physically challenged. (We have an appt. next week with a Vascular Surgeon to plan arterial bypass surgeries in both of Mom's thighs - pretty scary!) I was diagnosed Bi-Polar when I sought counseling to deal with my phobic fears of losing Mom (I ran crying out of an attorney's office where we'd gone to do wills when he got to the part on 'final arrangements and wishes"), and for years had been unable to even think of or discuss the inevitable... About six months into my counseling my doc told me he had the Bi-Polar diagnosis. I think the meds do help, although it's still hard some days to maintain middle-ground (and I have to watch my spending, because that's how my "manic" state plays out - I buy! buy! buy! stuff).When it gets really tough with Mom, sometimes I just have to melt down and tell her she's pushing too hard, or expecting too much - I have to have some life for myself! I guess I'd have to say take the time or opportunity whenever possible to be kind to yourself and take care of you - even if it's just a few minutes sitting outside and enjoying the weather. BREATHE!
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I think most of us, whether we want to admit it or not, suffer from varying degrees of depression. Being Bi-Polar only adds to the difficulties we all face caring for aging parents. I have suffered from cyclic massive depressive disorder for most of my life. I am living with both parents, Mom with ALZ, and my Dad being in relatively good health for being in his 80s. I've been here (mostly) since 2006 in the beginning because my Doctor's told me that I could not live alone. I lost my husband of 32 yrs in 2005 that put me at the bottom of the barrel, but I have recovered mentally anyway. You MUST take care of yourself FIRST. If you don't, you won't be any help to anyone, including yourself. If necessary find respite care for your Mom/Dad and take some time to heal yourself. We have a difficult road to walk and our mental illnesses do not make it any easier. Speaking for myself, I let myself get completely run down and ended up in a coma on a ventilator for 9 days. My heart stopped 5 times and they had to shock me to get me back. They implanted a pacemaker/defibrillator before I was discharged from the hospital and I am still trying to get back to "normal". So believe me when I tell you, pay attention to your body and what it is telling you. Go to counseling, find the right drug regimen and stay on it, take care of yourself so you can continue to take care of others. Your parent(s) may not tell you, but they appreciate what you do. Where would they be without you? God Bless. I've said a prayer for you.
Sue
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I don't know and I'd love to find a little insight. I've suffered from depression for years. Meds never seemed to be very helpful. Now that I'm unemployed and moved 850 miles from my old life to live with my parents, I'm not on anything. My parents are the most trying people I've ever met and always have been. Think about two people bickering 24/7 but the bickering can turn into giant fights at random times. You never know what's going to set one of them off - well, mom is always yelling. I've been out of this environment for 20 years. Twenty years of sweet silence minus the occasional screech of my female cat going head to head with a stray at the bedroom window. Being around them is making me so depressed and angry. I hate it. The only thing I want to do is sleep. I know I'm sinking into an episode (if I'm not already in one) but I'm feeling helpless to do anything about it. Fighting mental illness without insurance isn't an easy thing to do. I know I need to figure out a way to be okay with everything but it's so very difficult.
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Great answer by Daddydaycare, with much helpful advice. Dingaray, your topic of mental illness is really a good one. I have an adult daughter with an (undiagnosed) borderline personality disorder. Therapists that she's seen now and then can never finger it, but having been her Mom for 44 years, I know exactly what it is. I love her dearly, and she has helped me with her Grandmother (my 87 yr old Mom w/ dementia). She is the most loving and caring of all the other four kids we have, but her personality can fire off unexpectedly in an instant. She would love to spend a week taking care of Grandma while my husband and I get a break, but I'm afraid it would be filled w/ ups and downs, and although I know for sure she would never be physically abusive to Grandma, I'm thinking at times it could turn into verbal abuse, and then forgotten about a short time later. I agree w/ ThirdCoastGirl about mental health and no insurance. It's a travesty. There are no pills for borderline personality disorder, and dialectical behavioral therapy, the only known help for such a disorder, is outrageously expensive. Out-of-pocket it would cost $800.00 a month! Physiciatrists are ridiculously expensive. The uninsured mentally ill often end up in so much trouble, as many times they turn to drugs or alcohol to make themselves feel more normal. I didn't mean to get off of topic, but the lack of treatment opportunities for the mentally ill is one of my pet peeves. Caring for a person w/ dementia is a huge trial for people who don't even have a diagnosed mental illness. When you add Bipolar, Depression, Borderline, etc to the mix the stress is magnified. Actually, I think caring for my Mom w/ dementia, as well as trying to help my daughter w/ borderline as much as I possibly can, has caused depression for me!! I will take some of the above advice from the comments, and I offer my prayers and best wishes to you all!!
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