Does anyone else deal with depression from being a primary caregiver?

For those who don't know me, my husband and I live with my mom who is 91 and has Alzheimer's and a weak heart. I take medication for depression but it still gets a hold of me. We rarely get out together as my mom can't be alone. My brother and sister live far away...brother gives us breaks maybe once or twice a year. Sister doesn't lift a finger. I've been doing this for almost 5 years and making other arrangements is not an option for me. My husband says I'll feel better in the spring. I don't know... Guilt goes along with the depression. If I don't do anything I feel guilty, but I some days don't feel up to doing a thing.

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Top Answer
I deal with my depression everyday. Some days, I don't deal and just let it ride out. I just lay there and hardly move and barely speak. It's hard when you got to do it on your own. I think this whole guilt thing has got GO. None of us in this type of situation need to feel guilty for not wanting to deal with it for a while. As a matter of fact, that is our RIGHT. We deserve to do or NOT do anything for ourselves.

Have you looked into adult day cares in your area? i dang near jump in joy when I put my mom on the bus.. on those days.. not an ounce of guilt to be heard or seen.

Best Wishes
Kelley
I think the original question should have been "Does any one NOT suffer depression from being a caregiver
MIZ:

All caregivers experience depression at one point or another. How we cope with it is the tricky part. Some people resort to "happy pills" like Prozac or Celexa to mask it; others accept it as part of a war in which all sides lose something. Some, always so free and easy on the advice, seem to be in total control. The fact is that half the time they're playing the Cleopatra Queen of Denial bit complete with teflon attitude, and pretending they're in control of everything and everyone. Some give in and become trapped; others go screaming into the night after the first week. The list goes on and on.

Miz, it sounds to me like you're grieving for a life you used to have before all these sacrifices of caregiving came along. And barely anyone around to help except those whose love for you you believed unconditional.

Every 24 hours or so take some "me time" and rewind the tape of your existence. Have you been happy, even if it's for 5 minutes a day? Is your soul searching deep enough to identify the causes or triggers of your depression? Of course you'll come across individuals handing out their spiel about people, places, and things. What they won't tell you is that those same people, places, and things are actually you.

All us, in time, will need a source of strength other than our own. Dig a little deeper within yourself, and you'll realize the answers you seek have been there all along.


The best way to deal with depression is to separate the clinical side of depression. That means ruling things out that are physical. Try for a check up regardless of how unmotivated you are. As far as the mental aspects of depression - at this point I hope that there is no stigma to a treatable condition. Medications for depression are not "happy pills" - SSRI's are in many cases lifesavers for some people who have an imbalance and benefit the same way diabetics do from proper use of insulin.

Some tricks that I use personally is to stay goal focused, and not to dwell on anything that I cannot change. That type of self talk is a good way to sabotage your day. You know the old adage, misery loves company - it is true. Although we all have bad moments, don't fall into the trap of endlessly discussing why something is unfair, sad, crazy-making (endless list).

I have been a solo caregiver for seven years. I occasionally participate on this board because I've managed to deal with alot, and its hard work - depression makes it harder still. So when I comment, I am not painting a rosy picture, nor am I advising anyone to be in denial of their problems. I am, however suggesting that how you manage your expectations is likely to be more helpful than complaining about things you cannot change.

A person with Alzheimers is not in a position to know that you have issues - let alone work out stuff from the past. So when I say suck it up & let it go - you will feel better, I earned the right to say it because I have done it. If I feel helpless, then I figure out where I can regain a bit of control - either in researching a condition, resolving to laugh while cleaning up poop instead of crying, or realizing that my choice of being a caregiver for a family member means I probably won't be walking down the streets of Paris this year or meeting the man of my dreams. These dreams weren't stolen - I wasn't forced, they are a mature choice - the same ones we make when we show up for work rather than going to the movies, or doing our homework instead of playing video games. If old friends drop away, then so be it. Never hang on to anything, that does not nurture you or make you happy - that means self-image too.

Be kind to yourself, admit what you need for you to thrive may not be what someone else thinks you need. Realize that self-talk can hurt or help - your choice, choose wisely. Talk to a Dr. about meds if you need them - don't tell anyone else. Its not them that is feeling your pain. Realize that lifting your mood does not change your life - that is still up to you.

Do things that make you laugh. Dance to music you like every day. Eat healthy food and sleep - maybe the luxury for you would be hire a sitter and sleep for 8 hrs rather than being up every 2 to check on your loved one - that kills your mood.

Appreciate the fact that the real world is always better than online - go outside and get fresh air & sun every day for even a little bit.

In other words, practice a little every day in managing your reactions - not responses - to all of the crappy stressful stuff that you can't control. Takes work to get your sense of humour back, but it is worth it - so after you have had a good cry, have a good laugh if you can, its good for your heart and soul.

Last night my parent when I was putting my parent to bed I felt pretty beat up from the week which had been pretty challenging for us both. She said to me - never mind don't you know that when you wake up in the morning, the devil always says "oh crap! she's up!"

It made my day (night), I laughed and yes, today I am back to myself again. I think everyone on this board is so deserving of wishes come true, so I hope my reminder about laughter and hope helps ....

writing it helped me.
Dear Mizunderstood10,

I couldn't have found a better thread to read today than the one you started. Your story is my story, as I am sure it is so many others' as well. We have good hearts. We love our family members. We want to do the best for them and probably for everyone else, too. BUT and there is a big BUT attached to this.

BUT along with our caring for them and sharing our lives and often our homes with them, comes a great price that we alone as caregivers pay. Depression, anxiety, loss of sleep, loss of friends, loss of life, not just theirs, but ours, feeling fatigued, feeling alone, and on and on and on. We want to do our best. We try. But there are days and there are weeks when we feel like we're drowning, like we are the ones who are ill.

I do so appreciate everyone's advice. It is exactly what we need to hear, but as I said, there are days and there are weeks, when we can't absorb the wise words spoken here. I want to appreciate the few minutes I have when my parents nap or the hour or two I have when someone else is watching them, but it is so hard. It seems like I can't disconnect from them, in order to relax.

Someone says, "Take a bath. Take a walk. Read." Their words are the right words, but how do I get my mind off the responsibilities I am constantly facing? I don't know how to disconnect. I never feel free. And I want to feel at peace. I desperately want to.

So what advice do I have for you. KEEP COMING BACK HERE. Years ago, I went to OA to lose weight. They said two things that still stay with me. Keep coming back, so you have support, even when things seem the darkest. And "Act as if" things are OK. If you wait to "feel better" you may be waiting a long, long time, but if you start acting as if they are, even if they're not, the behavior may encourage the mind to follow.

This is my refuge, right here. You all share my life; you share my story. I don't have to feel bad telling the same story over and over again. Here it is all OK.

Good luck to you, Miz. Good luck to us all.
Depression? Oh heck yes. Today I am so depressed I've not been able to do the one little errand I had scheduled. So I totally understand.
Some days I feel like throwing in the towel.
My 90 year old Mother goes out once a week to go shopping-and that is the greatest time for me! Its like all the bad air in the house is gone for awhle and I can play music, walk around wherever I wish, dance, talk to myslef-whatever. This is one thing that doesn't get addressed very often. Emphasis is on the "getting out" part of respite, which is fine, but since most of us are adults, we also mourn the freedom to just "be" in our own homes!
Does anyone agree?
Just the other day I was discussing this depression with my parents. Since March 1, 2009 I have been here in Florida taking care of both my parents. I live in Atlanta, own a home, had a business, 4 children, 5 grandchildren and just turned 62. It was just starting to be my time for me. I was a single mother, had run two businesses and now I was hoping to find a love and enjoy these years before I get too old.
Dad had spinal fusion surgery March 3, returned home March 25...the next day Mom fell and broke her back also. OMG
She had surgery eventually. Both have smaller situations going on...incontinence, tremors, dementia..dadada.
What I thought would be maybe a month stay for me has turned into a forever situation.
They dress and shower themselves now...but the rest is up to me. I feel like Cinderella.
They will live longer here with their Shrine activities/friends, familiar doctors and in their condo...so I am now living in the second bedroom. If I take them back to Atlanta they will just sit there and die. I want to make their last years as good as I can. They are 81 + 83.
I have one younger brother...in Ohio. He doesn't call...says he has nothing to say! Oh, I heard he's going to Ireland this month...stopped vacationing in Florida suddenly this year. Why was I surprised about that?!
I don't take anything for depression or anger. I go to Petland and hold their puppies. If one doesn't do it, then I hold another and another. No better place to get lots of kisses!!
I can walk in there fighting back tears, but always walk out comforted and calm again.

Its been 9 months since my father passed away. I was his primary caregiver and I feel not only am I struggling with grief but depression as well. I don't think any of us know what we are getting into till we are in the trenches every day. It is overwhelming and frustrating. There are so many challenges with siblings and other family members, rude doctors and nurses, and the list just goes on. None of us are martyrs or saints, it does take a toll.
pamela, I used to be very social. I have let so many friendships lag and lost touch with others. It's just so hard to maintain friendships when you're depressed and can't get out much.
the depression from caring is one of the reasons i have decided to put dad in a home.I've been on the happy pills twice and promised myself if it got too much again I would put my needs first.Dad is waiting for a bed in a home and the guilt of saying I can't do this any more was unbearable but I've done it and my family are pleased that I'm going to have a life.

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