I have been through a lot the past 6 years with my parents (longer with my dad), my father's death, father's estate issues, mother's behaviors, step-dad's illness, son entering and graduating college, another child about to enter college, ups and downs of husband's business, in-law's changing health and mental status, taking 2 leaves of absence from my own job due to caregiving, school closure (teacher) due to Covid, etc...
I am on medication for anxiety, depression and PTSD. The majority of the time, I do well, I eat healthy and exercise almost daily, I connect with friends and family daily and have 2 sweet dogs. However, I have been questioning so many things. I recently turned 55 and question, "Is watching decline and eventual death of self, family and friends all there is left for me?" I understand the cycle of life, but how do you just keep going and living life in the meantime? I feel like the past few years have brought problems, anxiety and fear at every turn.
I am into a cycle of worry that I will cause the same pain and struggles for my own children, that I have experienced with my parents. I just want to feel more positive about something and stop worrying about the future.
Thank you for any advice, insight and feedback. This is a great forum.
Formulate them in such a way that you have lists of activities and goals, and each day engage in an activity for the goals, however small. That gives you daily progress, and something to look forward to.
One way to approach this is to ask yourself what your goals would be outside of caregiving, for you and your children. Then identify the steps and activities and figure out ways to contribute to them along the caregiving journey.
I also listen a lot to the classical music channels through cable, jot down the ones I want to learn, and search through my piles of music to find the scores, then start practicing. I won't even address how badly my playing is, not having practiced for years!)
(Chocolate helps too, but it's not without unpleasant recourse!)
It has always been clear to me that I am not someone without limitations. One of those limitations I knew well and surely. I was a nurse. I knew what it took and did it three days a week, 12 hour shifts, for a very good salary, and was dedicated and loved my career. But it was always clear to me what it took, and that I could not do it 24/7 for family. Ever. So I did not take on the care for others.
Ages 45 to 75 were the most free of my life. It was a time when my children were grown. When I was well enough to travel. We built a small second "cabin" on land that was in the middle of nature. We went to Europe. I took classes and formed hobbies I loved. After retirement at 62 I still had 15 years when I could hike and chop wood.
I would say that you are correct. When you are a caregiver it is consuming and consumes your life entirely. It was accepted in other cultures and in our own earlier generations that this is the way it is. But not it is more or less a choice.
I now don't wish to travel. Am content with the garden and with the books and with hobbies, activities I enjoy.
It might be of interest to you that my grandson is this year graduating college. He will have a career. And now questions EVERYTHING as in "Is this it? You are born, go to school, go to work, have a family, die? Is this all there is".
So your thoughts aren't unusual even in the young.
I would say that you are now coming to an age where you have decisions to make about what you WANT to do with your remaining years, what you CAN do.
I have twice in my life been to a counselor. Once a very heartbreaking divorce. Once a cancer (35 years ago) diagnosis that made life itself an uncertainty. It truly helped. It helped comb out issues, choices. I recommend it.
It is difficult to stay in the present day. We are planning creatures. Some of us are more anxious than others (count me IN on that).
I so agree this is a great Forum. And you are a trusted participant here often.
I sure do wish you good luck. Don't try to do the "I should" or "you should" thing. Allow yourself to think whatever you want on any given day. I learned THAT from cancer, to ignore those who said "You have to think positive". Guess what! You can think as negative as you want and still be alive 35 years later. Hee hee.
with lunch, watch Judge Judy and the soap operas. Then she would nap. For supper time, I paid ladies to come from four to six pm and assist her with dinner and have one way girl talk. (She could not speak despite being very alert). She was also paralyzed on one side.
(the staff could not provide the level of care that I and the paid helpers at supper time did.)
I often felt stressed but made a decision early in her years of confinement to always exhibit a positive view of everything. It worked well for us.
I realize I have not addressed the details of your post. I hope what I have said gives you a glimpse of how handled our situation.
my wife died in 2017, after 61 years of marriage.
Now my health is very precarious. I doctor it as I can and put on a happy face.
grace + peace,
By the way, I am 58 and looking forward to re-entering the world of work. I don't feel like I am looking at "the end" of my life but a new chapter full of wonderful adventures.
And a cancer survivor. Why did I think that the big "C" somehow wouldn't be a factor in my life? But I really never did.
I went from having some fatigue and a cluster of swollen lymph nodes one day into full fledged emergency chemo after a LOT of very painful tests....it was all a blur. Dh couldn't handle the stress, so he traveled as much as he possibly could and asked me to please cover my bald head, it was 'bothering' him. I felt so very, very alone. And so angry at him, as I have nursed him through 5 life threatening things, not the least of which was a liver transplant!! He was not 'there' for me and I wondered if I even wanted to stay with him.
Turning my heart to my faith and trusting God, He sent people into my life who checked on me, brought dinners and sent cards and flowers. Just as I was down in the dumps so bad I thought I would give up, someone would step in and raise me up.
I cleared the cancer and now am in remission. I opted to only do 4 of 12 FU chemos (with the drs approval) and have been very slowly recovering.
I'm working on forgiving my DH for what he could not be---and planning the last portion of my life. I will not live to 90, so I hope to get what I can out of the next 20 years.
My primary focus is on service. There are always so many people who need help. I find when I am giving, I am not so enmeshed in my own 'anxiety'. Everyday I try to include lifting up somebody else.
So many things I thought I'd have forever to do are not going to happen, and I'm at peace with that.
I turn 65 in a few weeks and it's so weird. I never thought I'd get that old :)
I have 5 amazing kids, 5 amazing in laws and 14 beautiful grands I hope to see grow up.
Some days are bad, face it, and accept it. I don't cry anymore, but I can sure get bluesy blue. It's not forever and it always passes.
As soon as COVID is manageable, we will do a little traveling and begin to look for our retirement home.
I think my faith has shored me up so much. And not listening to the news very much--seriously--it doesn't help and makes me angry and sad.
Each one of us is an important part of the puzzle of the world. Knowing that each day of life is a gift helps.
Accepting the good days and being grateful for them and trying to let the bad ones slip away without leaving a footprint on our hearts--takes some doing, but remembering that we are blessed so much, even when we're struggling.
I SO respect and admire Old Bob and the sweet comments he makes about his dear wife. This forum has also been a godsend.
Finding your niche, once again in life, is a challenge.
For the future, consider my 75-yr-old brother-in-law who spent years caring for his wife until she died of dementia. He grieved, then began to reconnect with old friends. He remarried last year and they are happily planning overseas trips once the Covid-19 risk is less. I know your situation is different, but I think you might plan on re-inventing your relationship with your children as they enter adulthood. It can be very rewarding to cheer your grown children on as they enter into their chosen careers and build their families. With any luck you will have many years to pursue rewarding relationships and interests.
I have to admit to thinking about others caring for me at the end of my life, and how the lessons of being a caregiver can make that easier. BUT THAT IS SEVERAL DECADES AWAY FOR BOTH OF US.
The trick is not to try to go back to your previous life. I no longer have the energy for full-time work and you might not either. It's time to reinvent yourself! Ideally, do so as gradually as possible. You have dealt with severe long-term stress, and recovery will take time. Meanwhile, slowly start adding in new things. Part-time tutoring jobs come to mind, as does volunteering for your favorite cause. If you have a hobby you always wanted to try, now is the time! Recent cultural changes may be your ally. More online tutoring and volunteering options, and online how-tos for everything you can imagine, Enjoy the exploration!
Walk in a nice quiet place alone or better still with a friend-- and pray and believe--- that God gives you peace-- adopting an idea of anxiety oh so prevalent is just playing into the enemy's clutches... read Philippians 4:4-9, 12,13-- Be anxious for NOTHING ! or lose the peace that no one who knows you can understand-- all because it is a national past time to be so anxious and not to have any peace-- because you cannot be your own doctor-- yeah-- tell your doc to let you and God handle it---
Listen to praise and Worship music on YOUTUBE-- all of it-- let it permeate your home day and night until it gets down in your soul...
Also find a full Gospel church and get in the prayer group and do not whine-- but tell them you are intent on getting your peace back in spite of everything-- also ask them for grief-counseling-- and--
YOU WILL get it all back-- the confidence you had all your youth.. yes-- YOU WILL ! So have faith, and believe that the Good Lord can and will work a miracle in you and you do not need drugs or secular lala-land goofballs or self-help books-- lastly-- LAUGH-- as much as you can at all the stuff- and also WITH your friends-- and you will recover. Say AMEN. La. Ca suffit. Bon Voyage-- OH that's a nother thing-- travel. See a nice place close by and then further away-- go to the North Woods on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan-- rent a cabin.. on a lake. You will love it-- Good luck. God bless. I had to watch Dad die and then Mom die from dementia for 20 years.. I survived. You will too.
You've experienced the trauma of your dad's death, the anxiety of all that's going on in your family, and fear of the future. All of these certainly have an impact on your life, but they don't have to define your life. Many years ago Peggy Lee had a song called “Is that all there is?”, minimizing the various positive experiences in life. Individually each problem may not seem like much, but they can accumulate to eventually become depressing. You're already there, along with PTSD. Time to change course. Life should be more than the sum of negative emotions and experiences, don't you think? Besides the meds are you seeing a counselor regularly?
Lack of control, uncertainty, unrealistic expectations, lack of self respect, all contribute to the anxiety and worry we all experience at one time or another... you are not alone. So acknowledge each feeling. Then try journaling each emotion, what causes each, and how you can overcome each. If you're in counseling, your counselor can help. And gratitude is a great equalizer. Gratitude for your parents, your childhood, your husband and children, and their ability to attend college. I like the previous suggestions of setting goals, the thought of spring and a new beginning, focusing on the present, and many other great posts. Your only 55, life still has much to offer you.
These are your best years, go for it! I wish you luck.
So I started reading about the afterlife voraciously at that time, 20 years ago. Everything I could get my hands on. Book after book that was published on the subject, by people who have had near death experiences and wrote about it. One and all, similar experiences to share and to let the readers know about. That yes, there IS more to life than what we have here on Earth. That our short journey here is only a very tiny portion of an eternal life that we souls are living.
I learned all that in Catholic school, about 'eternal life', but it was all shrouded in mystery and we were forbidden to ask questions. Or to question ANY of the 'why's' of life or death. To have blind faith only. And for me, that's not enough.
Which is what led me to seek further knowledge on what's now a HUGELY vast subject. With tens of thousands of people (more likely hundreds of thousands or millions) who have had near death experiences to share, so we now KNOW there is more to life than 'just this.'
Learning such a thing and believing it takes the fear out of death. That puts a whole new perspective on LIFE. When a loved one dies nowadays, it doesn't upset me. I know they're going to the next phase of their eternal journey and in a way, that knowledge brings me comfort. I see and find signs from my departed father all the time, so that just drives home what I already know: that he's safe and sound living a full life on the other side.
So, for me, taking the fear and the mystery out of death relieved a huge burden from my mind. If you'd like to read a good book on the subject, I suggest one by Dr. Eben Alexander (a neurosurgeon) who had a NDE and wrote about it, called Proof of Heaven.
That's my 'advice, insight & feedback' for you, from my own personal struggle with PTSD and the like. Alva and some others have given you some other great feedback as well.
Wishing you the best of luck coming to terms with life on life's terms and finding your peace with it all. It's not easy, any of this, that's for sure.
Another great one is, ‘My Descent Into Death’ by Howard Storm.
Life can become miserable at times.
I wouldn’t hesitate to speak to a professional therapist to help sort through this challenging time in your life.
The answer is:
BE AWARE OF BEING PRESENT.
This is a discipline to bring yourself 'back' to the present whenever you can.
Feel through, feeling through will interrupt the 'same old same old' response.
Explore feelings as if you are on an adventure - be curious vs. swept into the fear and anxiety. I studied / work with FOCUSING technique. It is learning to talk to / follow a feeling. Feelings want to speak to you. We need to train our self to listen to what they have to say. It is an amazing model / process. Google it (Focusing by Eugene Genlin) although I love how the woman in Berkeley works (I forget her name). I bought her books years ago, had a professional focusing session myself, and did focusing on others. It is a guided experience, whether you work with another or yourself. You consider yourself sitting NEXT to a lake and watch the lake, the ripples, the colors, the temperature. You do not jump into the lake. You sit with it / next to it. This is what you do with your feelings. Sit with them, be with them. gena
Also continue with your mental health counselor, be willing to do some research for good values you can teach yourself and children. Seek out support for your concerns. If they don't work for you continue to search for the right support and do not give up, you are precious to God.