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I did. My therapist allowed me to say things about my stepmother and my dad that I could t say to anyone else for fear of judgement and having what I said told to others. I learned to do letter writing and that helped. I wrote several emails to my step mother and I said things and called her names and actually put the caps lock on and upped the font size so I could scream. It sounds silly but it did help. I then took them to the therapist and read them to him and we processed them. The important thing is to find a good therapist.
Hope that helps.
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Reply to Joniprins
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IMHO, conventional therapy is effective if you have unlimited time and money. Most of us don't have that.

Decades ago I was in therapy for nearly 1-1/2 years. I learned a lot about co-dependency, enmeshment, how to avoid the same old pitfalls. It wasn't what I thought, i.e. being told "Here's your problem and here's what you need to do." Far from it. Therapy is hard work. Reaching a plateau where progress came to standstill induced me to quit. Besides, I got tired of forking over big checks plus the time involved.

This forum is great resource. But you have to know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. You have to step up and apply the knowledge of people here who have gone through what you're experiencing and have advised you.

Therapy is a good thing if you find a compatible therapist. This forum costs a lot less and can be quite effective. It's helped me a lot with the challenges of caregiving.
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I hadn’t been to therapy since December 2017 for my anorexia. During all the crazy stuff and one thing after another. I decided to go back to therapy and i had no idea how much i was holding in. I really didn’t have anyone to talk to. My husband wanted to protect me and would try to change my thoughts. He would say we have already talked about it. My friend didn’t want to hear it. You guys have been the best support I have ever had. I know i don’t get on much but I know you are here. But regarding therapy it was my time and it was about me. Hang in there and we are here for you too
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Me personally, I went to a therapist and felt it was all about my HUSBAND . I thought it was to help ME out? Maybe I took it wrong.. anyway, didn't go again.
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NeedHelpWithMom May 15, 2019
Yeah, I get that but perhaps you didn’t stick with it long enough or you were with the wrong therapist, meaning not the right fit for you. Hugs! You deserved to be the focus. You were the patient.
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I copied and pasted Ruthroll's response below - I have not read every response posted, but I think this is the best.

For myself, I thought about going to a counselor. My friends to be honest really didn't want to hear about my caregiving issues. Sorry to say but true. So who to talk to?

I feel talking and sharing are important. No one can really offer solutions to a terrible situation. But acknowledgment of your efforts and a little sympathy would be appreciated. But I really have not gotten much of that. So I pretty much don't share.

In addition, I am the type that usually the more I talk about something bad, the WORSE I feel because regurgitating it all is kind of exhausting to me. It's like the words re-create the bad situation!

My feeling is that the value of a therapist is limiting. If you need info on how to handle a person with dementia, contact the Alzheimer's Association. If you need info on narcissistic parents, go on the internet. Of course, you can journal, get a massage, walk in the park, blah blah blah to relieve stress. Do I really need a therapist to tell me this?

Again, back to ruthroll's response. To me by the time you are thinking you need to go to a therapist that's the time you need to be rethinking your caregiving situation. Not denigrating therapy, just appreciating Ruthroll's response - especially the last 3 sentences - as she IS a therapist! Her response:

I am a therapist and my mom is in assisted living. I have also see a therapist to talk to for support and I have clients who have come to me to talk about their situations. We all need support as caregivers. Talking helps a lot, however self care is soooo important. Set some boundaries and limits and take care of your self. It really is OK to say no.

Best wishes, everyone.
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Myownlife May 21, 2019
Tornadojan,
" In addition, I am the type that usually the more I talk about something bad, the WORSE I feel because regurgitating it all is kind of exhausting to me. It's like the words re-create the bad situation! "

You put it in a nutshell..... this is exactly the same with me. Great post, thank you!
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I have been to a therapist and believe me it helps. I care for my parents and my husband and own my own business. I needed an outlet. Having someone to let off some steam to who isn't judgmental makes all the difference in the world. I go to a therapist because I love my friends, and I want to keep my friends. When I would vent to my friends they would tell me what I needed to do, they thought they had all the answers.(I just wanted someone to listen to me) But unless you have walked in our shoes its hard to imagine what a caregivers life is like. A therapist may not completely understand, but they listen and try to help you figure out how to get through the day. I wish you all the luck in the world. Hang in there.
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Reply to Caregiver2all
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Absolutely. I truly believe that with our stress and burdens, we need to be able to vent to a professional person who will not judge. But I have had to fire most until I found a good person who can give me some feedback. I don't want to share my heart and have them just raise an eyebrow or say "I hear you." I need someone to look at the situation I bring and help me look at it from a different perspective or perhaps give me some tips on how to handle it. That's when a therapist is worth their salt. Do not be afraid to seek someone out who won't pass judgement on you or your family. We all need to unload our shoulders under the hard conditions of caregiving. Blessings to you.
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I had to take a few anti anxiety pills during my mother journey into Alzheimer’s.
So, I also went to a therapist about two years ago to work through my relationship with my previously narcissistic mother, who later turned into an Alzheimer’s victim. (To be fair, I also was going to therapy to try to deal with my son’s heroin addiction too.)
We worked on my feelings about my Mom first. The therapist suggested I “write my mother a letter”. I understood getting my feelings out on paper but my mother couldn’t “get it” and the therapist didn’t even want to read it. OK, so it was for me to get in touch with my feelings.
She also told me to do the same for my son. The next session she said that I could keep seeing her but all she could do was listen to me repeat the same stuff I was saying!
I quit going. 🤐

I’m sure there are some GOOD therapists out there. Try one.
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AlvaDeer May 14, 2019
My experience is that they listen and then start giving you a bag of tricks to deal. "Have you tried journaling?" "Are you getting exercise?" "What hobbies do you have". " "Have you gathered family members to discuss what burdens can be shared". "What was your relationship like with your mother growing up". And so on. If you study psychotherapy at all it is something easily recognized. I had a friend who went and the therapist told her she would/should be in therapy the rest of her life. To me that said that either my friend was stone-cold-crazy, or the therapist wasn't too good. The bag of tricks is there, and there ARE things we need to explore about our own approach and where it comes from. So I certainly am not saying don't go, but I certainly can identify with where you were.
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I'm currently seeing a therapist and her insights are tremendously helpful. She has helped me understand the experiences of one with dementia. I had been trying to apply logic to my mother's choices and I've learned that is simply not realistic.
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Ironically, I first tried a therapist about 9 years ago - when Mom was in her late-80's - because we were so close but when she started declining I was terrified of losing her. That helped some...

About a year after Mom and I entered the Hell of injury, damaging rehab/skilled nursing facilities, surgeries, MRSA, depression (both of us), panic - I realized I needed an outlet for all of the emotions - anger, grief, fear, exhaustion, et al - and my friends just weren't capable, and eventually willing and happy about listening to me.

My therapist/counselor ended up being a friend I could talk to. I found our sessions mostly revolved around me being able to vent - just to let off some steam and pressure before I blew like Mom's pressure cooker! When it was appropriate, she interrupted me with pearls of wisdom and personal reflections/perspective because she'd gone through the same things with her own Mom.

So - it can absolutely be helpful, even a lifesaver, to find someone who will listen and provide feedback, even if it costs a few $$'s. It might even save a few friendships along the way, so I say go for it!
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I went to one soon after I started to care for mom - she helped me understand dementia & agreed that my long term plan was sound - this gave me that confidence to make decisions as time went by - if you can afford it then go a few times just to help set your track
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It's not a bad idea and I will tell you how it helped me. When my mother was younger, at time she would do things to get attention. She was a wonderful, warm person but she did crave a lot of attention all of the time. So when she started exhibiting dementia, calling me at all hours, expecting me to drop everything and come to her, and saying some mean things, at first I thought she was being difficult. And even though I knew her cognition was off it was very hard not to take some of the things she said personally. The therapist helped with that, he made me realize that you are not dealing with the mother that raised you anymore. Also, he helped to give me the resolve I needed to place her in assisted living. It's difficult when the tables turn and you have to take away their independence. So yes, I do think it's helpful. But so is this forum!
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No, but I had to start taking anti anxiety medication because of the overwhelming stress the situation has caused.
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As I start down the road of caregiving, I just want to thank each and everyone of you for sharing your stories, insights, and especially your frustrations. Caregiving is truly one of those situations where anyone who's not done it wouldn't believe it. And I can't really imagine a better group therapy than this site. Thank you all!
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Lostinva May 14, 2019
I tried a support group st our church but there wasn’t anyone there caring for a parent. All were dealing with kids with mental issues & drug problems so quit going. I don’t know how I started getting emails for this site but being able to read what others are going through & to realize there are so many experiencing the same agony & reading different perspectives has been the best therapy for me!! I can’t wsit till the end of the day to finally have peace & quiet & this site to read. Thank you all!!
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I have seen my therapist about my caregiving responsibilities as well as my relationship with my wife (she is the one I have been caring for.) I found it was worth it. He had some thoughts to help me deal with my issues in this caregiving relationship. One of his first comments was to make sure that I take care of myself. He has also asked me to think about some questions about our relationship. Note that our relationship wasn't that good to begin with and caregiving has made it worse.
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You may find things like going for long walks, yoga, texting a sister or talking to Hubs is enough for you - I did. Until the walks & yoga became so overladen with spinning thoughts & I was unable to unwind. Obviously burnt out sister (texts back "that's interesting" no more) & Hubs (says 5 min limit reached & switches TV on).

So tried therepy & yes it was very helpful for me. Went along for 4 sessions. Someone to listen firstly, but then support to set boundaries & finally take action towards what I wanted to achieve. I know it's not for everyone, but I was curious & was glad I went.
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I have 3 therapists and 2 life coaches. The thing that helps the most is my IFS coach. IFS is internal family systems and that doesn’t mean dealing with your family it means dealing with the parts of yourself. It’s the only thing that really heals the damage to your vulnerable selves and helps you find self empathy.
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Julipoolie May 14, 2019
I would like to know more about that
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As a therapist and I was a caregiver to my dad, I looked, unsuccessfully, for a support group. My dad was paralyzed the last year of his life. I looked for a support group specific to paralysis - was looking for answers to "how do you get _________ accomplished?" questions and I knew they would understand my feelings as well. I do wish I had started therapy. It was only for 13 months, but after his death, I realized how much it impacted me. I wondered "what is wrong with me?" and then recognized some symptoms of PTSD.
Currently as a therapist, I found a small group that does therapy in the home, mostly for Medicare beneficiaries. I am a contract therapist for them. I'm seeing folks who would have a hard time getting out of the house for appts due to illnesses and family caregivers also.
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Cirqdevie May 13, 2019
Are you by any chance in or near Fairfax County, VA? Having trouble finding therapists in area that get what the caregiver goes through that can help without trying to find out what was wrong with my childhood. lol. Thanks, Cirquedevie
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Yes, I see a psychiatrist AFTER MY MOM DIED due to sadness. It helps.
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Yes our senior center has a counselor and it helps to have someone to talk to and discuss (and vent) sometimes. Look for someone who has geriatric experience.
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I am a therapist and my mom is in assisted living. I have also see a therapist to talk to for support and I have clients who have come to me to talk about their situations. We all need support as caregivers. Talking helps a lot, however self care is soooo important. Set some boundaries and limits and take care of your self. It really is OK to say no.
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I am writing this from three perspectives: as a therapist, a medical social worker with hospice/LTC experience and as a caregiver whose parents died 10 weeks apart in 2018. Would a therapist help? Yes, If you get the right therapist. Or even better if you have a licensed Master’s level social worker with home care and/or hospice experience. A good clinical/medical social worker with therapist training can hear you into speech and help you experience the insulated world you live in along with anticipatory grief education and support. They may know of support groups mentored by a professional that can help the group moved into the unseen but felt areas and ambiguities that come with the role reversal of being a caregiver. They will also have a menu of resources that will fit your personality from which you can experiment and choose. Gender and cultural differeces also play a role in how one functions a a caregiver and practices self care. Each of us deals with care giving stresses differently and a good therapist or hospice social worker or bereavement counselor can support you navigating through it and all thee changes you are experiencing.

You might call up a hospice or home care social worker to ask for professional referrals.

Peace,
Mark
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Cirqdevie May 13, 2019
By any chance are you in or near Fairfax County, VA?
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I’m a clinical psychologist. I have 15 individual talk therapy clients. I also have three caregiver groups. One is a writing/journaling group, the second is a weekly group therapy session or book study and the last is an early morning walk and talk group. Sometimes we become a morning coffee chat at a local coffee place.

My first one hour session is free. A get to know session for both me and the potential client; after that $85.00. I only take clients by referral. I accept all private insurances and I am licensed as a provider for Medicare, Medicaid and the VA. A potential client may not like me or may not feel that I can work with them. My groups are $10.00 weekly and occasionally there is book to purchase (8.99 - $12.99). I try to keep all expenses reasonably priced.

Some people find talk therapy helpful, some don’t. And you do need to find a therapist that is a good fit for you. Don’t hesitate to change if you need. A good therapist will accept your decision without question. A good therapist will probably realize before you do that it’s not working the way it should. I would also suggest finding a therapist who has peer review with a psychiatrist who, if necessary could be a prescribing physician if medication is needed. Make sure your therapist is licensed thru your state and has the appropriate education and clinical experience.
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Cirqdevie May 13, 2019
By any chance are you in or near Fairfax, VA?
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I think my therapist has a boat named after me by now. I started seeing her a year after my mom moved in. I had seen a therapist before her but we didn't click.

She is a huge help to me. Judgement free zone, help with boundary setting, validation and really sometimes just a sounding board.

If you can do it, do it! Don't be afraid you won't click, if you don't go to another one.
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Babs75 May 12, 2019
LOL... sounds like mine.
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Yes BUT HARD TO FIND A GOOD THERAPIST. I am a survivor of 4th stage cancer and a 4 month coma N my heart stopped & I died!...Prayers to you & yours! Dr Jack very blessed guy!
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I tried a therapist here in ALexandria VA and was not helpful at all. Is anybody else on this site that uses a therapist successfully in the Fairfax County VA area?. I really need an outlet - I care for 2 aging parents full time. Love them dearly and have been melting down around them...which is horrible.
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Can somne of you with such good results. Tell me how you find time please. I am sole caregiver for my husband. I ggave wonderful therapist I've seen off and on but can't get there on regular schedule.
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Therapists (and there all kinds of therapists, some good and some not so good - so choose wisely after trial and error with them). They can help you look at the big picture or open your mind to exploring new options, etc. but they cannot solve the problem at hand. All they can do is teach you how to react to what is happening and then help you reach the right decision. They cannot fix what is broken - that is your job. There is no one right or wrong outcome - each person, each situation, each outcome is different. If it makes you feel better and you can cope easier, that is great but sometimes it does not work - you still go home to the same situation.

I think if the caretaker sat down and thought about l00% of the situation and tried to think "outside of the box" (what is apparent to them right now), they could determine if they should even think of being a caretaker. And if they decide to do it anyway, they must think ahead how to handle bad behavior, verbal abuses and other unacceptable behavior. How far are they willing to go to stop it (regardless of reasons, like Alzheimer's) and what would they do about it. Then and only then can a decision be made. At this point it is good to bounce off these thoughts with a therapist but the caretaker has homework to do first.
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I have. One year. Helped somewhat. I still struggle everyday. I think that one of my problems is that I am too old and I have had 3 back surgeries. I can’t hold out to clean house. Wash clothes and cook meals like I could when I was in my 50s and 60s. My mom is almost 90 and I am 70. I am just weary. Sorry I know this doesn’t help.
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This forum is my therapy. It's convenient - I can pop in anytime - and it does not cost a dime. I've gotten more from the good people on this forum than I imagine I would ever get from a therapist. Sometimes just the act of writing helps even if I decide to not post. And reading what others share both in terms of recommendations and their situations is beyond anything a therapist can offer in 45-minutes.
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