Why do I always feel like I am in crisis mode?


For the last 7 years I have been in crisis mode. It started with my BIL with a stoke, then a NH and still there (manage him from afar). Then a year later my SIL with brain cancer, moved in, then hospice and passing. Then mom dies unexpectedly and dad has to move in. He is ambulatory but needs to be cared for in many different ways, watch after medical care, finance and all the other things). My daughter moved in a year ago with her husband and now he is out of the house (yea) she is still here (I'm OK with that). So now everything has pretty much calmed down but why do I feel like I am in constant crisis mode? I cant get the issues out of my head that things have to be done. Everyone comes to me to fix or do or it is left to me to get done. It is hard for me to concentrate on my business (very important that I do). It is hard to relax, I dont see my friends like I used to. It just seems like every day is a crisis anymore even when it is not.

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While I haven't researched this and don't know specifically if there's medical proof of it, I think that sometimes caregiving can create its own form of PTSD. Imagine the military who've returned to civilian life, and how difficult it is to switch from being on high alert, always anticipating and psyched up to respond to hostilities. It becomes an ingrained, omnipresent mindset.

That alert mode doesn't go away immediately, and sometimes it never does. I think caregiving can produce the same hyped, alert mode.

And the level and length of it would I assume vary by individual as well as would the response.

I've learned on some programs that ex-military people suffering from PTSD have found remediation through animals, caring for them, and accepting the unconditional and nonthreatening love animals have for their humans.

As to the preoccupation with issues needing attention, I've found it helps to create a project list and prioritize, starting with the most important ones, the basics. If you're familiar with zero based concepts, apply those.

I.e. list the projects that are creating the mental chaos, start with a clean slate with zero projects for the day, then add them in the order of importance. Cf., what absolutely has to be done today, what can be done tomorrow, and which are less priority and can be done when the higher level tasks are completed? That's what helps me when my mind won't stop churning and the tasks seem endless and all immediate.

I think of this when I read posts by people who have so much to deal with, but the typical female chores and responsibilities of cleaning are included. I.e., "I have to cook, clean, chauffeur...."

For caregivers, those are lower priorities in my opinion; care and health of the caregiver and elder are higher. The floor will get dirty tomorrow even if it's cleaned today, and the dust bunnies have managed to establish permanent residence.

Factor out the less important, keep only the mandatory tasks, then use the rest of the time for relaxation. And this applies to work as well; you always have to prioritize your tasks.
Helpful Answer (34)

Ah yes, the crisis mode.... always waiting for that other shoe to drop.

I know that feeling, I still have it even though my last parent passed just over a year ago, plus two family pets recently from old age. I am hyper at work thus hard to concentrate. When can I finally exhale feeling, right?
Helpful Answer (21)

It’s seems you are the GO TO GUY, the ROCK, that everyone counts on for everything. It gets old. Are people taking you for granted? Can you pull in a couple apron strings?

Maybe a bad comparison bit it’s like the mom who went on strike. Family members had to learn to take care of themselves. Assign, delegate, relax.
Helpful Answer (17)

You've spent 7 years in this mode-it's like a surge protector getting hit over and over. What has helped me is I take 3 hours a week with friends - we don't talk about anything except light stuff. For three hours, I'm just me - not a caregiver or at work, no one is making any demands on me. Hopefully you have an activity you can do with friends - golf, skiing, watching a football game. And you need to do this on a consistent basis so you have this respite to look forward.
Helpful Answer (17)

Because you have been in crisis mode; and what you feel is "calmed down" is probably still almost too much to manage. I have cared for my mom (now 95) in my home for 14 years; I know; I live this life every day. My best suggestion for you is to breathe, try to eat well, try to rest whenever you can; try to get good help if you can possibly afford it; and yes "it is hard to concentrate on business or relax"; it is really very difficult; unfair; not completely understandable; hard on your mind and body; and yes; I don't see my friends like I used to; and in fact I don't seem to do anything like I used to! My thoughts and prayers are with you; Caregal
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I know what you mean. I feel the same way sometimes. And when I do start to feel pretty good, BAM, something drops in from left field. I just keep praying that things will calm down. But, when our parents are aging and other people in the family who depend on us, have health issues.....I don't think that will improve.

Early this year I started focusing on my health and it really has made a difference. Then, I started to work on a career change. I'm feeling much better and really hope that things will get better. The next step is for me to remove myself from people who are overly anxious. I think anxiety breeds anxiety. lol
Helpful Answer (16)

After I retired from my job this summer, my father insisted on coming along with me every time I went anywhere. He is age 89 and can still drive short distances but not on the highway because he knows that his reaction time is probably too slow for higher speed driving. Only in the past month have I finally gone anywhere in the car by myself. I couldn't believe how much better it felt to go somewhere by myself. It was like a flashback to better times. I too wonder about, when being a caregiver is over, if I will ever stop feeling on edge. Things can be fine one minute, and the next thing you know there can be total madness and chaos.
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Do you ever actually switch off from the issues of daily life? Take time out for yourself, something that you enjoy, gardening, a hobby, take a break, catch up with old friends even if it is you doing the initial contacting.
All the best, Arlene
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I understand how you feel, but I think time helps. Also, it can help to reduce caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, etc.) as caffeine can magnify anxiety, etc.
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"When dads car heater does not work, I thought I fixed it but for some reason its is not working now. So he waits until last minute and then I have to come up with the solution."

Honestly, tgengine, here's something you can work on: stop being the one to fix things. Stop. Unless your father has health issues (mental or physical) that doesn't allow him to figure out to take the car to a mechanic, tell him he needs to fix his own car. If he needs that assistance, then help him take the car to a shop. Stop being the one to produce the solutions.

People look to you to fix things because you allow it. It's hard to stop. I know; I'm like you being the one everyone calls. Now, I offer suggestions, but I will not be the one to carry out the fix to others' problems. It's tough to stand back, but it will make your family members stronger.
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