I have always been an active person with several hobbies...
I can take time for myself and do it. But I don't feel like doing anything. I plan knitting a new jumper or going out to take photos or cook something special. But then I just lay on the couch doing nothing at all, not even watching TV.
My therapist says I should force myself but I just don't feel like. I didn't even get dressed today.
Any tips to share?
I have read yesterday something about compassion fatigue... I feel like being in the zombie phase.
I am not even angry or depressed...

Hi Anche. 💕

I wish I had insight for you but I can't force myself to do things if I don't feel like it, either. I end up getting more frustrated. One thing I started doing during caregiving was asking myself, "What's the most difficult thing I could tackle right now?" Some days it was getting in the shower. And if I can do that one thing, step by step, just going through the motions, then I could start to do other things.

I'm sorry for how you're feeling and I get it so well, as do others here. Take it easy on yourself and maybe you need some down time for now, too. It's ok to take some time to do nothing productive. Watching positive videos, talks, or reading helpful and inspirational material during some down time could help. Watch comedies. Get yourself laughing. 😁 It really is good medicine.

I like the tips you're getting here! Great thread! 💙💜
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to AliBoBali
Isthisrealyreal Sep 19, 2021
Laughter doeth good like a medicine.
You're not alone in feeling this way, Anche71. I think everyone who is an elderly caregiver every day gets like this. I do. Also, factor in the pandemic and people not going anywhere for over a year. You think you don't have depression, but you do and it's nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. You have caregiver burnout with it. Your therapist is wrong. People can't just "snap out of it" and force themselves to do something. I know how it is. I have gone through suicidal depression myself and refused to believe it. I thought that because I went to work every day (as an elderly caregiver), then went to my next job at home caregiving for an elderly parent who at the best of times I had a strained relationship with. I was getting all the work done and meeting everyone's demands, but I was functioning as a robot. A machine that produces but has no care for anything or anyone. Then I couldn't function at all. The answer to depression isn't always meds or forcing yourself into doing things. Everyone is different and a one-size-fits-all treatment and explanation doesn't help.
I can only tell you what I did that helped me and maybe some of it can work for you.
Every day I acknowledged my feelings. I didn't try to push them down and pretend they weren't there. I also reminded myself daily that the way I felt wasn't always so for me. That because there was other times in my life when I was fine, there would be again.
The one thing that I made myself do was to deliberately notice something beautiful every day. Even if I was laying in my bed, I'd look at the clock on my bedroom wall. It's a nice clock with pink roses on it. I'd look at the sky and it's beautiful. Or take a walk and just notice people's lawns or trees and that time was for me. All I had to do is notice these beautiful things. I wasn't being a caregiver or a person with depression. For that time I was just a person looking at beautiful nature. It helps. It took a long time but I gave myself a break. I understood that I don't have to be everything to everyone. You don't either. Then I finally was able to start clawing out of the hole.
Please buy a book called 'The Comfort Book' by Matt Haig. It's not a self-help book and you'll read it in one day.
You'll come back to yourself. in the meantime I hope you find some beauty every day.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to BurntCaregiver
Anche71 Sep 19, 2021
Thank you for your reply! I like it! I will try and try to take pictures again... That was one of my hobbies, I used to take pictures of flowers and butterflies!
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There's an old saying, I can't remember where it comes from, that goes like this:

"Good actions create good thoughts."

Not the other way around. We can't 'think' ourselves into a better frame of mind; we have to ACT our way into a better frame of mind. Which means that sometimes we have to go out there and DO something, even when we don't feel like it, and we can wind up feeling better as a result of taking that action.

I realize that's an over-simplification of something that's deeper rooted and a lot more serious, which is likely depression. Depression is no joke and normally requires treatment/medication, etc. So if you're clinically depressed, forcing yourself out to take a walk is likely not going to solve the issue. But it MAY make you feel a bit more hopeful for the moment, you know?

For me, I am feeling compassion fatigue these days. For 64 years, my mother has used me as her sounding board and scratching post. I feel exhausted from it, both mentally and physically, because there are days I do not want to get up from bed. I can sleep for 10 hours and wake up feeling exhausted, wondering what 'crisis' she will invent for today that will leave me feeling anxious. I'm also tired of drumming up 'compassion' for a woman who exhibits none of it herself. Her crisis du jour is that she's very very very depressed, but can't remember ever being depressed before. I distinctly remember chronic depression from her for 60+ years and her threats of suicide for at least as long. So the other night, I found myself listening to her loud sobbing on the phone for a good 10 minutes with no reaction at all. I may as well have been listening to the drone of a lawnmower.

Unlike you, I AM angry and somewhat depressed; from living like this for far too long. For expecting things from myself on a daily basis that nobody should ever expect of themselves. Constant unwavering patience; never feeling angry or aggravated, even after having my phone blown up over and over again; feeling an endless well of compassion for someone who never shows it herself; always having a smile on my face when I want to frown; taking care of a huge pile of endless finances that I really have no head for, and on and ON.

So, for today, I will put all of this angst aside and go out and enjoy the beautiful Fall weather. I may pop into my favorite thrift store to see if I can hunt up a treasure. I may not. I don't know. I do know I will not dwell on what's bothering me for a few hours but just try to focus on what I'm grateful for. Sometimes I have to think about it long and hard. But there is a lot to BE grateful for, I know. And then I will speak to my doctor at my appointment next month about getting on an anti depressant or anti anxiety medication because it may be time to do that. It's not a sign of weakness but a sign of being too strong for too long.
We shouldn't allow ourselves to exist in a zombie phase; we're worth a whole lot more than that.

Wishing you the best of luck taking care of YOU; you're worth it.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to lealonnie1
Anche71 Sep 23, 2021
I too am angry today! I need boundaries! I wonder if it's too late to learn to say no when people ask me to fix their problems!
I am so glad I am back to fit karate where I can kick and hit the punching bag! I have bought one but am not able to use it alone at home ...
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Anche: I hear you; I truly do. When my out of state caregiving was done because my mother had passed away, I couldn't even have the mental wherewithal to put on a pot of coffee for the guests who had come back to my mother's house after the service. I just completely shut down and my daughter had to take over. As you may know, my caregiving was done not in my house, but my mother's house 7 states away from my own. So yes, I get it. Prayers sent, dear Anche. Take care of yourself.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Llamalover47

I can relate as well. I lack the motivation to even get out of bed some days. I have an almost daily argument with myself. I remember once I was in bed and could tell by the shaking of my wall unit in the other room that we were having a small earthquake. You would think I'd at least have gotten up to check it out. Nope! I just rolled over and went back to sleep. Sad really!

Taking care of my mom and having her well being uppermost in my mind was my motivation for so long that after her death I just almost disintegrated. It was like that nagging anxiety about her and her health was my biggest motivation for so long that when it wasn't there anymore my whole body just did one big heavy sigh and stopped. It's been over six years now and it still hasn't really started again. I have to mentally jump start myself most days.

As someone so adroitly said you just have to decide you are going to do it, (whatever it is) and do it even if your whole mind and body are screaming "Why bother" I've heard doctors say that sedentary life styles are the new smoking.

My advice would be start small. Give yourself a goal of some kind. For instance I've recently started not eating after 7 pm. Which means if I were to sleep in too late I'd have to scramble to get all my nutrition for the day within a smaller time frame. Just something as small as that helps me get out of bed.

I know this is hard. Believe me. I've been there and still am in a lot of respects.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Gershun
Anche71 Sep 23, 2021
Gershun, I see what you mean. I have seen friends going through that after their loved one's death. They are telling me to prepare myself in advance for this... I think you can be prepared rationally speaking, I doubt it is possible emotionally speaking
You just described me in your post. Caring for my elderly parents has sucked the life right out of me. They refuse to the point of yelling that they will NOT go to assisted living. They finally have a caregiver M-F from 8-4. Then I take Friday night to Monday morning. Even when I'm at home, I'm never really away. The caregiver literally the caregiver will text me constantly. Asking questions like does my mom like relish in her chicken salad. I counted a few days and literally get 10-13 texts before noon. I handle the scheduling of my parents Dr. Visits, physical therapy and wound care for my mom. I have lost all my energy to even take a shower. I lay around all day thinking of them and all the things I am neglecting at my own house. There is so much to do that I am in that frozen state. My lack of doing anything has lasted several months for me at this point. As I'm writing this, another text has come through from the caregiver. I get all the same advice from people that don't walk in my shoes; take a walk, count your blessings, just do it!!! Well, I can't!! I get no help from my sister that lives 15 min away from them where I live a good 50 minutes from them in good traffic. I am depressed and on medication that isn't working, obviously!! I have severe anxiety when I'm getting ready to go to them. Im so glad that you posted this question. I'm reading the responses. Hoping something will resonate. Laying around all day, I can feel myself losing muscle and am always fatigued. Just know that you are not alone. I keep searching for an answer. I read yesterday to just give yourself just 3 things to do each day until you can do more. So far today, I've done nothing. I wish I could just snap out of it, but don't see that day coming where that would happen. I'm really not trying to make you feel worse. Just trying to say that you're not the only one!! Hugs to you.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to CJLC1234

I've recently learned there's a 3rd type of response to stress; along with 'fight or flight' there is 'freeze.' It happened to me when helping my dying mother and again when I faced a huge personal crisis (fresh out of shoulder replacement surgery but potential homelessness.) My normally high functioning self just 'bogged down.' Caregiving requires things of us we never imagined, and every elder decline/caregiving is unique even tho there may be similarities. Nobody really understands this process with declining elders until they've experienced it themselves. Your therapist has a point tho I would suggest 'start small' and allow yourself to Simplify, Simplify, Simplify! Meet your obligations and build in small self-care and pleasurable things (even reading a book, taking a short walk) that help you feel 'normal' so you feel 'enough.' Our frantic society makes us feel we must be 'go go go' all the time but that is not healthy in the long run. All the Best.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Santalynn
Anche71 Sep 22, 2021
Yes, I have had what the therapist called freezing crises, something like a panic attack. I was crying but unable to do anything not even blow my nose or dry my tears... Breathing was also difficult. I have read something about it.. Like all animals we have these 3 strategies to face something dangerous.
I have restarted to go to the gym for my fitkarate classes... I think this will help.
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Buongiorno Anche. Sì sono italiana,
I know what you are feeling. My husband has had dementia for five years. This has progressed over the last year with the pandemic. I had lost interest in many of the things I used to love to do. Our doctor suggested that I put him in daycare a couple of days each week. We visited a beautiful center, but they felt that his dementia was too advanced for them to take him. I have hired a woman from an agency to come three days a week for four hours at a time. This has helped and gives me a little free time each week to shop, have lunch with a friend, etc. I trust his caregiver and for those few hours I know he is safe and taken care of. My husband does not remember our children. I don't think he remembers me, I'm just always here. Get some help and take care of yourself. Even a few hours away helps. This is a wonderful place to vent. Everyone here is more or less in the same situation. Hugs to you.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Grannie9

Sounds like apathy, lacking the spark to initiate something. The help is to realize that you don't rely on having the motivation to get you started. ACTION PRECEDES MOTIVATION. Force yourself to do something and the willingness comes later. Yes, it's hard, but worth it.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to vegaslady
bundleofjoy Sep 22, 2021
it also helps to laugh.

if you can find some nice, funny people anche, who can make you laugh a bit…

or some funny movies.

we all need to laugh a bit.

and if possible, get rid of stress, step by step.

for example, in my case, we hired people. recently, i found great caregivers. this reduces stress a bit.

try to decrease the number of problems. joy of life will return.

be careful who surrounds you. people drag you down, or lift you up.

many people want to drag others down.

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I had a friend (deceased now), a famous poet, who wrote a poem every day. Another friend asked him, "what if your poem isn't up to your usual standards?" Without missing a beat, my friend said, "well, I just lower my standards." Your ennui is well-deserved. Your energy will come back. Try staying in bed all day, telling yourself, "screw it. So what if I don't finish the laundry, or make any meals. Maybe I'll do that again tomorrrow." The weight of the world's expectations, and, most likely, your own expectations, are too heavy. I can tell from your writing that you are normally someone with a lot of energy and joy. Right now, you're not up to it. Turns out, you're human.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Toomush
janycefagan12 Sep 22, 2021
you are so right. I too was ambitious and enjoyed doing things as she mentioned . I am 83yrs. old there are days when I just don't feel like doing anything . That is when I put those negative thoughts out of my head and realize I am getting older and with the pandemic happening there isn't to much to do. I know whatever has to be done will wait. And it does believe me. Cheer up better days are coming . Call a friend ,do a manicure or pedicure that is if you can reach your toes.
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