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Hi! I've read several messages on the subject of caregiving.
My situation may be unique. I am at a total burn out......crash landing....or what ever you call it.
My mom has been handicapped since before I was born. It is "normal" to see her in her wheelchair. I never thought anything about it. When my dad died when I was 13, I was faced with worrying about my future, my mom etc..
I am now 37 and have never left my mom, although many people have told me to put her in some home ever since I turned 18 years old. I never thought of ever putting her in any "home". I have been her "helper" since the age of 13. I have given up my life to see that she is cared for. She was able to go to work and now is retired.

Her disability is Polio.And now she is dealing with Post-Polio syndrome. It kills me to see her in pain but she will not take "pain pills".She is worried of being hooked on meds.

Anytime I'm greeted by friends or neighbors, I'm asked " How's your mom?" ....No one ever asks ME how I am,even my family. When they do ask how I am, it's because they are worried that someone else will have to look out for my mom. I was even told by several family members that I was born to care for my mom.....that I was "sent" from God to see that my mom is ok.
That in itself drives me crazy.....that all I am is a caregiver.
People don't see me.....they see my mom's little "helper".
As I watch my mom age,I'm feeling that no matter what I do, I can't help her. It is probably the worst feeling to have.
I'm torn between feeling guilty about not having time for myself and not giving enough time to my aging mother.What can you do?
Is anyone facing a similar problem?
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Hi mizfixit...

Welcome...I read your story a couple of times...and you really have had a time of it I can see...But you sound like a very special person...most kids at 13 do not have an inkling of responsibility.
I get the feeling that even though you know you have missed out on a lot growing up, you want your mother to have only the best care...perhaps the time has come to look into some caregiving help if you do not want to put her in a home. You must'nt feel guilty about wanting some time for YOU. You also need to make your way in the world and I bet if you discuss this with your mom she would agree... ...She may really enjoy having some different company around to care for her, be it a few hours a day or perhaps days at a time. I think the resources for this depend on where you are and what kind of approval from a doctor you may need.
Needing time away certainly does not mean you care any less about your mother...and importantly too...you cannot caregive properly if you are burnt out.
As for her pain, does her doctor believe in alternative remedies..? They can work.. ...I used homeopathy for my mom's flareups of sciatica in her hips because the codeine in stronger tylenol would have slowed her breathing down too much...and it worked...with no side effects...

Take care....and please feel free to join the chats that are scheduled at this site...there are a lot of special people here that are willing to listen...and offer anything we have learned from our own experiences.

PrairieGal
Hello Mizfixit,

I love your name..how appropos...You must be such an incredible loving soul to be doing all you have for all these years. It is a blessing for both your mother and yourself. While I have not experienced the same situation, I have spoken with many others who have been.

Life as we know it is short. While we are caregivers, most of us for brief periods at a time, the challenge to create your own life becomes much more difficult as in your own situation. Learning to set boundaries and take time for yourself to do this is something that must be initiated from within your own self.

Guilt is something we put on ourselves, but you deserve to have your own life as well as caring for your mother. Guilt is not uncommon for caregivers to feel. It is a part of the emotions we all go through, but guilt should not gain power over us where it keeps us from growing, healing and living our own lives more fully.

Because you have been doing this throughout your adolescence and adult life, I would encourage you to seek some offline counseling to help you understand more about the choices you have and how to approach them with your mother.I am not a professional but I think it is important for you to work through many of the feelings you have held in that you may not even be aware of.

I am sure your mother has own her emotional issues which she has to deal with as well. She is probably still young... her not wanting to become addicted to medications is a valid issue, however, it is important that the quality of her life is maintained.

As PrairieGal mentioned, there are some wonderful alternative therapies which may be able to help your mom. Homeopathy is wonderful, so is accupuncture....and so is meditation and visualization. These are modalities you may want to look into.

You mentioned that many have suggested you put her into a home. Is she able to care for herself in any way...possibly she is eligible for assisted living... access a rides, meals on wheels, senior day care, there is so much available in this day and age that would free up your time to socialize and do what you would like to.

I would also think it to be very important for your mom to have the capabilities of socializing and interacting with others as well.I am sure she is still young and missing out on so much in what could fill her life up as well..

Please keep us posted and let us know how you are making out. You can receive a tremendous amount of support in the chats as well as at the boards. Take the opportunity to sign up for our newsletter...it's uplifting and inspiring.

As for family and friends always asking how your mom is and showing very little concern for your own well being. I would agree that since they may not have ever had to be a caregiver, they simply do not know how to communicate or show compassion for you. So many caregivers are in isolation...questions seem to be polite, perfunctory and superficial...it helps them to keep there distance and not have to get involved.

The one thing I do want you to be aware of though is that they have supported you in the past to place your mom...perhaps they meant it lovingly so that you could have more of a life for yourself....you never really know. You may want to try to have a family meeting...Tell them that it was your choice to care for your mom at home and now you are looking at making some changes and the decisions are difficult for you. Perhaps if you truly reach out for the support and they hear that you are open to receiving suggestions, they may come through for you a bit differently.

Richest blessings in all you are doing.

Gail
Thanks for the advice I'm just realizing I hadn't time to finish growing up after hearing that my niece will be graduating in May.....as a doctor. I never thought I would be saying "What have I done with my life?".
One of my aunts said I'm an angel sent to watch over my mom. Boy if that isn't a guilt trip!!
quote:
Originally posted by PrairieGal:
Hi mizfixit...

Welcome...I read your story a couple of times...and you really have had a time of it I can see...But you sound like a very special person...most kids at 13 do not have an inkling of responsibility.
I get the feeling that even though you know you have missed out on a lot growing up, you want your mother to have only the best care...perhaps the time has come to look into some caregiving help if you do not want to put her in a home. You must'nt feel guilty about wanting some time for YOU. You also need to make your way in the world and I bet if you discuss this with your mom she would agree... ...She may really enjoy having some different company around to care for her, be it a few hours a day or perhaps days at a time. I think the resources for this depend on where you are and what kind of approval from a doctor you may need.
Needing time away certainly does not mean you care any less about your mother...and importantly too...you cannot caregive properly if you are burnt out.
As for her pain, does her doctor believe in alternative remedies..? They can work.. ...I used homeopathy for my mom's flareups of sciatica in her hips because the codeine in stronger tylenol would have slowed her breathing down too much...and it worked...with no side effects...

Take care....and please feel free to join the chats that are scheduled at this site...there are a lot of special people here that are willing to listen...and offer anything we have learned from our own experiences.

PrairieGal
Hi Mizfixit

Just wanted to let you know that as much as you feel you haven't done much with your life, I think you have been incredibly successful...someday you will understand it..perhaps when you look back at all you have accomplished...your needs have shifted and now you will slowly begin to make the changes you need to have your life be different...by reaching out and slowly getting the support you need, you will begin to create situations and experiences that give yourself more time for you...to get out and explore the other part of you that wants to get out and on with her own life..you deserve it...it will take making some concessions on both your part and your mom ...sharing what you are feeling with her...learning about what she may be feeling inside as well...may be some of the first steps in healing the situation..

please keep us posted.

richest blessings.
Gail
I just read your message and wish I could be your care giver for a while to give you a break. I was married, had two children, worked and retired early to help with my Mom, but I thought I was overwhelmed with the responsibilities. Can't begin to feel what you have had in your young life. I hope first thing tomorrow you get on the phone and start calling any and all senior and elder care agencies in your area. As a mother myself, I feel deep down your mom would want you to have some life of your own even tho she is comfortable having always had you to depend on. You have absolutely no reason to feel guilty and every reason to be overwhelmed having had the responsibility for so long. Maybe others don't ask or care, but any of us who have been care givers know how you feel when asked only how your mom is. You deserve to be able to do things only for yourself - only for your pleasure. Please keep us updated and know that we are the ones you can vent to any time you feel the need. I wish I had some magic words of wisdom to make things better. Just know I will keep you in my prayers.
Mizfixit,

I'm new here to this site and its sure taught me that I'm not alone in this. Especially guilt, thats the hardest part for me.
Sometimes the parent unwittingly, (maybe) plays a big part by controling and manipulating with guilt to keep you around.

I don't know the circumstances of your moms illnes and I'm sure everyones different but I have known people with polio that have gone on to live very full lives and hold down jobs, go to school, live on their own,drive, etc. Even when in wheelchairs.

I guess what I really want to say to you is that you are a good person, you really are. One that deserves to have a life and happiness. Have you thought about enrolling in school? Taking even a few classes you'd meet some new people and I would think your Mom would be all for it even if it involved
getting someone to stay with her while you went.

Maybe talking to a psychologist might help you too. It really helped me alot. Writing a journal is one of the first things they have you do. Might be worth a try.

I hope this helps a bit
Thanks for all the support!
I will most likey go to counseling as my situation seems to be getting worse. Or maybe it just seems that way to me.

I recently went on 2 dates with 2 different men who wanted to know why I haven't been married yet. When I explained I have been looking after my mother since I was 13, I never heard back from them. This has been a problem since I started dating way back when.
I can understand that these guys wouldn't want most of my attention focused on caregiving.And yes, some of friends say they are not worth it if they can not be understanding. But the same friends at times think there is something "wrong" with me because I can't get a husband.
On top of all that, I work with all men who seem to think I'm a freak because I have no one even though they know I take care of my mother.My co-workers think I use caregiving as an excuse for NOT dating!
As this point I feel that I can't win. I'm almost 38 years old and have never been married or have kids which seems to be strange to most people.When I mention I'm a caregiver, I get that sympathetic nod combined with a puzzled look.

I believe that all of us caregivers are not the ones that need counseling...it is the ones who do not understand the postion we are in! Well, I can dream,right?
Thanks again for all the replies!
Hi again mizfixit...

Your attitude is terrific...
And you are absolutely right...Unless someone has ever been a caregiver they just plain and simply do not understand. You do not want sympathy...you just want understanding. We Caregive out of love, it is not an excuse for anything or an attempt to gain sympathy...and I think these strong emotions do scare a lot of people who have not...been there...
And yes...people do sometimes say the "wrong" things"...I think mostly out of ignorance to the situation...just keep your chin up....and know that you are a very special person..
My best to you...
M.A./PrairieGal
Hi Mixfixit...

I believe you are on the right track.. perhaps you weren't really wanting to go out.. we usually generate that which occupies our mind the most... the truth is that you express wanting to have a social life and to date... leave yourself open.. as you are doing.. what you need to grow through will happen... you will learn even more about yourself, gain more confidence in who you are.. and begin living your life more fully.. the time is apparently now because you have already begun to go out.. This is a blessing... don't beat yourself up for what was.. you are in the present.. this is what is most important.
Richest blessings...keep us posted.
Love & light
Gail

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