How do you deal with feeling unappreciated?

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Day-in and day-out I feel like I'm banging my heaped against the wall, whether it's the daily 'responsibilities' of caregiving or trying to brighten the days, especially during the holidays. Year after year I try to be positive. I want to be happy myself. However, I get such negativity from my mother and siblings (who don't help at all). How do you work on yourself to be happy and enjoy life? I get so depressed sometimes, especially when I can't live my life fully (and there has been so much mental 'damage' done). How do you do it?

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I understand what you mean, Heart. I put up some Christmas decorations outside this week, only to have Mom say that she didn't know why I bothered. Oh, joy to the world. :-(

But I know I did it for me. The red and white tinsel and candy canes were for me. And I am seriously looking at some deer and a jolly fat guy for me. We may end up with the most decorated house this year.

It is tough when we don't receive an show of appreciation or respect. I know some people are not capable of showing it. I think we do what we do because we think it will make things better. It is discouraging when it doesn't seem to have that effect. Maybe we can only make it better for ourselves when we're dealing with a narcissistic person.
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I remember that a common question after about a year of employment of what we called baby attorneys, who had just graduated from law school and started work in a law firm, was why do all the hard work and endure the separation from family required by working weekends and holidays since it wasn't appreciated by the partners or clients? It was a common and legitimate question.

After years in the field, I heard seasoned attorneys ask the same question. As I aged and finally gained some wisdom, I realized that one should be working for the satisfaction it gives that person, not whether it provides satisfaction for someone else.

Trying to please someone else puts you in a position of dependence on someone else's feelings.

I would offer the same suggestion to you: does caregiving satisfy you? Or do you need to know that your family is satisfied, pleased and/or gratified by your assistance?

If the former, accept that you get pleasure from it even though someone else doesn't appreciate you. If the latter, then move on to a phase in your life in which you yourself find appreciation for your efforts.
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Know yourself and when you have reached your limit. Then you take time off, get a sitter if you have to. Assign one day a week to each sibling to relieve you for at least four hours or they pay for a sitter. Then leave the house and go somewhere that makes you calmer. A movie, the park, a library or even a pedicure will recharge your batteries.
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One of my favorite memes (sayings) is: "There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for others who wouldn't even jump puddles for you." Think about that. Why are you knocking yourself out if you're not respected or appreciated?

I love Babalou's idea. Take a break and see what happens. Make your own life happier in the meantime. And come back here and tell us how you're doing!
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Why are you doing this if no one appreciates it? That's a serious question.

I would take a break from caregiving responsibilities for this month. If your mother is only old and not ill, she can hire the care she needs, or call on your siblings. Make yourself unavailable for one month. Say it's doctor's orders.

In that month, make sure you get a complete physical, mammogram, gynecology and mental health checkup. Figure out a way to get 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 3 X a week.

People are only grateful for what is freely given if they know they need it. Either your mother doesn't really need the help you're giving, or she does. If she does, negotiate a caregiving contract with her that stars Jan 1.
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