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So when do u know it's beyond "standard" caregiver stress and at a point for counseling?
I am tired of feeling angry & alone and just empty inside. It seems like anything and everything just frustrates and upsets me. I know they say anger can be a cover for pain which I think may be part of it. I've been caring for my paralyzed wife for 8 years now and I'm only 49. Our future is pretty much defined and there is no real "relationship" beyond that. I get up....go to work and go back home to what feels like a second job. I am very involved with her life and medical needs to try and help her life be better (pain management, physical therapy, insurance battles etc) but I don't feel respected or appreciated (Yes I have tried to share that with her). I feel desperate to find ways to bring joy into my life and sometimes wonder if it's at a level of being bipolar. I really can't see a therapist having a clue to what I go through and think I would just get aggravated at any of their coping or "me time" suggestions. It's like I know the answer already and this is just my life to manage. I get episodes of being happy and mentally focused and wonder if I am chemically imbalanced and if there's a way to test that. Is this depression, anxiety, stress, thyroid problems????
Is there medication to just help take the edge off and let me feel more relaxed and less anxious. I know my hands are full and think the stress comes from anything new that comes along like the straw on the camels back. It's easy to feel justified when that new piece of straw is something big but most of the time they all feel just as heavy and upset me equally. That's usually when I reflect back and wonder "what the heck is wrong with me?"

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You can't go through life feeling only empathy. You need to feel love, intimacy, respect, and many other emotional requirements. You need to ask a therapist how to find these other good feelings since your wife is unable or unwilling to provide them. you must learn new skills. It sounds like you are a pro at caring for your wife but need help in caring for yourself. This is so common in life....not just with caregivers. Lots of us neglect ourselves....not good! Today go do something nice for yourself and tell yourself you are going to find a solution. If you "run out of cards, I will send you some." Just a little joke, but what Im saying is there is lots of help if we seek. You deserve so much happiness and fun and intimacy and all the good things in life. Ask God daily for it and meditate if you can. My prayers are with you and your family.
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I feel like I have been circling the pool with this therapist idea. Knowing it will probably feel good once I jump in but think the water may be deeper than I can handle. I have no choice but to accept and try to manage this cause my wifes paralysis and medical needs would require a nursing home if I was not there. So I don't feel any love, intimacy, partnership etc etc.....how is validation going to help that?
Maybe it's better to have low self esteem, lack desires and push down thoughts of "what-ifs" and just get thru the day. We don't have a loving relationship but what difference does it that make when my empathy for her exceeds everything else anyway. Maybe I fear being validated, heard, respected, understood by anyone but her to make me think I deserve it. Almost seems like raising my eyes off the floor would only make me see what I already know is ahead. I feel like someone serving a prison sentence just trying to find joy in the day and wouldn't know what to do if I had the keys to escape anyway. I know something has to change but the thought of meeting a therapist who begins with "So tell me what brings you here today" just seems like a lot of pressure. What if that road turns into a dead end and I loose that option. In some twisted way, it's like I think what happens next if I play my best card and that didn't work....now what?
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You have a huge task and it must be very difficult. Start with your medical doctor first, he/she may want to prescribe some medication and can make a referral for counseling. You can also look for a caregiver support group, it does help to share with others that understand what being a caregiver is like. Your wife must take considerable time when you come home after a day at work. Have you looked into getting a caregiver to come in? You may already have someone to be with her during the day. Your wife may have paralysis, but she should be able to do some things for herself. Have you looked into physical therapy for her? What about vocational rehabilitation? You didn't say how extensive the paralysis is but she may be able to learn new tasks to care for herself. You (and she) are young yet, this is a 'burden' however you've been caring for her for some time so I'm guessing you love her, try to remember that love. Knowing you are not alone in your caregiving duties does help. Speaking to a counselor or therapist also can help. I wish you luck.
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Perserversnce: I was wondering just yesterday how you were doing! I'm not at all surprised at your overwhelming struggle. You did a good job explaining your emotional pain. I have a lot of the same kind of pain. You will benefit from seeing a counselor. Even if they don't have the answer, there is something self-nuturing about going. You are doing it for YOU and your wife will receive the benefits too! Even though your wife is the one paralyzed, you are too in a way. If your wife is alert she should support your decision to see a therapist. I would want my husband to get all the help he could. I would want him to have relief from caring for me. Is she able to give you any support at all?
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Perseverance - you have a huge weight on your shoulders and i applaud you for reaching out for ideas and help from this website. A good first step! You need to access your situation and determine how to take care of you and your wife the best way possible. Getting help through counseling or support groups is an very useful start and i'm sure you will be glad you did. Good luck to you!
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You all have such good points and it's encouraging to not feel so isolated. It's not easy accepting that I can't manage this and just need to "toughen up". Sometimes I think it's all just part of a large learning curve in this new life and I'll get thru it. Call it denial or false hope but it's hard for someone who has always been self dependent with underlying control issues to ask for help. I try to get thru and manage the day without dwelling on the negatives so it's hard to get motivated to go talk about them. I've probably already told myself everything that you are thinking which begins with "So how is that working for you?". I did look at that website and am trying to decide on a therapist or psychiatrist. I don't want to have someone just give me some pills but also want to make sure I am not chemically imbalanced or need more than a couch and open ear. I understand stress at this level can be quite damaging but it seems like something deeper than that.
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Perseverance, I went back to read some of your other "questions" on this website by way of your profile. It's not an easy task for you, and how that car accident had changed both of your lives to a point where you both had to find or are still searching for a new normal life.

I went to a psychologist, someone whom I found off of the Psychiatry Today website. She was ok, or maybe I was just looking for an easy answer. She tried to get me interested in yoga which didn't interest me at all [others love it], or listening to certain calming music [but my mind would still wander], or relaxing voice over tapes. Nothing clicked for me. I didn't walk away empty handed, she did give me a couple of tips for dealing with my aging parents that still stick with me today.

I think I would have been better off trying to locate a local support group. See if there any support groups in your area for caregiving of a spouse... even though your wife isn't elderly, she requires the same type of care of someone of any age with her medical issues.
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I asked my therapist today and he confirmed my experience is typical. That is, you see a therapist (preferably who works with a group that has a psychiatrist) and they make the diagnosis for the psychiatrist to prescribe medicine. Psychiatrists don't do therapy like they one did. Their main focus is prescribing medicine and managing your medicine according to how you are doing.

Good luck!
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Perserverence, you sound very sane and normal to me. Sane people are the ones who go see therapists.

You probably want to find a psychiatrist who can prescribe. Sometimes they work as part of a group with clinicians who do therapy. You need this.
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blannie, just take the http:// off the URL and you can pop it in here.

here ya go: therapists.psychologytoday/rms/ but yeah, someone with prescribing capabilities would be ideal. Antidperessants help you see the positives in life and there simply never seem to be ANY or at least any that matter when you are truly depressed - the brain needs a supply of good neurotransmitters to play with, and stress and then depression itself continuously depletes them. TxCamper nailed it.

And seriously - last year would have been a good time to start seeing somone, but this week would be OK too....its sort of like asking when is the best time to plant a tree... go for it, you are an awesome and good person and you deserve to have proper care for yourself, I say that because I remember so vividly one time I was depressed and I could nto believe I was even worthy of receiving the help I really needed. HUGS!
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Since the implementation of Obamacare, doctors are VERY limited in what they can do in an appointment and get paid for. The appointment has to be specific. So if you brought up depression during a physical and he didn't seem interested, it isn't that he wasn't, it is that he wouldn't be paid for the time spend discussing it. Sorry about that.

You need to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. They are the ones with the tests and such to determine if you are chemically depressed and if so, how. They will prescribe medicine and do the followups. Then yes, you probably need to see a counselor. Even if it's through your church, if available. Someone who can listen to you and validate your feelings. They can try different things and see what helps the most. Maybe even a marriage counselor would be appropriate.

Is your wife able to get out? I didn't see where you said what her abilities are. Maybe y'all need date nights or to socialize more. I'm all for "me time", but not to the exclusion of your wife and marriage. I am finding that it's not as bad as it used to be to get mom out in her wheelchair. Public venues are all accessible. Our mall needs power doors, it isn't easy to negotiate entry and exit, but once inside, it's so easy just to go from store to store. Love it! We eat out occasionally, we visit friends. At people's houses, the steps are sometimes a problem, but we manage.

I do hope you follow through with some of these suggestions. Sometimes just doing something different is enough to keep us going for a little longer. But if you need to do something for your health, then it just needs to be done.

What to tell your wife. Tell her that you love her, but you're going through a midlife crisis and rather than buy a bright red Porsche, you think you'll see a shrink. I'm sure she'll understand. She may even already be aware that something's going on and be relieved that you know it too.

PS, don't try to diagnose yourself. It's not easy and the doctors get their feelings hurt because they went to all those years of school to learn how to do it.
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One more thing. If you have insurance and your health insurance company has a web site, it will help you find a list of therapists where you live who are covered by your health insurance policy. That would be the simplest thing to do.
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If you go to the PsychologyToday website (I can't type it in here or they'll strip it out) there's a whole section on finding a local therapist. Personally, I think you'd do best with short-term talk therapy and/or group counseling. You sound like a very bright, articulate guy who just needs to learn some tools in coping and someone to listen to you and offer some new ways to handle things. Read through the profiles for people in your area. See if you click with any of their statements about treatment and approach.

And there's no shame in letting your wife know you're getting help - given her situation, it might make sense to do some couples counseling or have her find her own counselor. I'm sure she's got as many feelings of loss/grief/anger as you do, assuming that her issues are more physical not not something like a traumatic brain injury.

Please let us know how you're doing - you're with a group here who understands the kind of stress you're experiencing, even though our situations are different.
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Look up therapists or counselors in your phone book. Or, you could google a search for therapists where you live. If it makes any difference to you, decide if you want a male or female therapist. Most therapists are Licensed Clinical Social Workers which are my favorite because they are trained in both family dynamics and individual psychology.

Often a therapist will be part of a group and you pick one out of the group or they work on their own. If you have insurance, you will need to find out if they take your insurance when you call to make an appointment.

If you do not have insurance, then ask the folks when you call if they charge on a sliding scale according to demonstrable economic need. Some therapists will do this.

Good luck and I hope you find someone soon!
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Thanks for the replies. I think it's very true that I don't feel "heard" and it's nice to know that maybe I am "normal" and not as messed up and alone as I thought. I really want to get my anger and outburst under better control. It's like my head is just full and can't handle and process anything more that I get frustrated and angry. I really hate it and just want some inner peace. I can accept this life and don't have "what if dreams". I know my wife is the one who really got dealt the bad card here. I tried to bring this up to my doctor who I see once a year but he didn't seem interested. I think my male ego and tough guy image keeps me from sharing how deep it goes and I try to convince myself it's just a bad day or week. It's only looking back that I see the pattern in between the bipolar good moods. I know now this aint going away and I feel it's probably doing some pretty damaging stuff to my overall health. Than the thoughts of what happens to my wife if I'm gone makes the stress worse. So any advice about ways to find the right therapist or counselor?
Of course than I need to find time to go and can't let my wife know for fear it will make her feel more a burden than I'm sure she already does.
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"I really can't see a therapist having a clue to what I go through and think I would just get aggravated at any of their coping or "me time" suggestions. "

This sentence sounds like a defense mechanism and a rationalization for not seeing a therapist which I think you need to do and would benefit from. Stop depriving yourself of something that can be very helpful.
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Living with a family member with a chronic life changing condition is very stressful, I know this from personal experience having a son with fairly significant autism and a seizure disorder. I try not to sweat the small stuff in life and I try to cope with the stress by exercising regularly and enjoying my hobby of knitting and crocheting. That said, there are times in life when other things make the stress too much. One time it was when both of our cars needed repairs at the same time, and another was when we were being audited by the IRS and my 88 year old father had come to live with us. I am fortunate to be involved in an organization with parents who have children with all types of disabilities and it is with them that I can share my challenges. I also have a best friend who does not have a family member who is disabled, but she is a licensed practical counselor and a very good listener. There is nothing wrong with you. You have a very challenging life. You already know that you need to find an outlet for all the stress you are under, be that talk therapy, a support group or medication. When I was going through menopause I had these terrible outbursts of anger and my ob/gyn put me on Paxil and that really helped. My advice to you would be to get a complete physical and let your doctor know the stress that you are under. He /she may be able to help with medication and perhaps referrals to other services.
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You sound like a perfectly normal guy who has a huge burden placed on his shoulders with a ton of attendant stress. In my life, different kinds of talk therapy have enabled me to reframe my view of what is happening and how my personality kept me stuck. Understanding how my views/attitudes were hurting me, I was able to deal with my caregiving pressures in a new way. It has also enabled me to take steps to manage my stress and then to move on with creating the life I want.

I've seen a couple of in-person therapists over the years (for a short time) and done things via a program over the phone (for a longer time). I've learned from all of those modes - some more than others. So if you try one and don't feel you click, don't give up. A therapist can't wave a magic wand and make your troubles go away, but the value of having another person listen to you and simply validate your feelings can't be underestimated. Feeling "heard" is huge. A good therapist will then help you find ways to change your behavior and/or outlook to make your life better and to feel hopeful and positive. It's worked wonders for me. And like you, I thought I knew myself and didn't see how they could change anything. They did.
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