Caregiver Wife And Nervous Breakdown

concerned_husbandJanuary 31, 2012

My wife and I are in a unique situation. My wife and I have had a long distance relationship for 6 years. I live in the U.K. and she lives in America. We just got married last May. The wedding was moved up once my wife learned of her mother's diagnosis. I stayed for 2 months with my wife but had to fly back because I had to go back to work. After I flew back, my wife filed petition for my visa so I could move to America.

My wife quit her job and school 8 months ago to care for her mother. She shares the caregiving duties with her father. Father in law is also caregiving his older brother who also has early stage stomach cancer so most of the caregiving for my mother in law falls into my wife's hands. Her siblings don't do anything. We talk on skype every single day. I have gotten calls from her crying and in pain. I can't imagine what she is going through, but there is nothing I can do or say to take away her pain. I want to just hold her but I'm 5K miles away! I got a call from her yesterday, and she seemed hysterical saying she has nothing to live for, what was the point of getting married when this is isn't a marriage to I'm a bad wife and daughter. She's been crying and going downhill for the past 2 weeks. She hasn't answered her phone or email. I called her father and he says that all she has been doing is sleeping and crying. Her mother is concerned for her and wants to fly her out so she can be with me. It's breaking her mom's heart that she is neglecting to take care of herself and not attending to her new marriage. My wife has a lot on her plate: mother dying, newlywed, husband 5k away, not having any emotional support as she has no friends, siblings are useless, paperwork for the visa process, and looking for work so one of us will have income when I get there. It's a long list and I can understand why she is having a bit of nervous breakdown.

I would fly there to be with her in a heartbeat but since my visa is pending, U.S. immigration will turn me away as its obvious I intend to immigrate and I don't want to jeopardize our petition. The next best thing is to fly her over here. She doesn't want to go as she can't forgive herself if something should happen to her mother. Her mother is in her 8th month since diagnosis. She is on tarceva and has been in and out of the hospital for various reasons and has bounced back. She is up and about and going to the gym 4 times a week despite having stage iv lung cancer. Her recent scan early this month shows she is stable.

My father in law and I reassured her that if something happens while she is here in Europe, her father will call and get her on the first plane back home. I told her I just want her to be with me for 2 weeks just to regroup and have us spend some time together. I don't know what to do. How can I convince her to come over, should she stay in the state she is in? I'm afraid she may become worse.

She was going to grief counseling. Last appointment, her therapist has been telling her to focus on her marriage and to be with me from the start and that she should live her life. He told her a mother doesn't want to see their children suffer and stagnate their life just because they are terminally ill. Whatever happens, happens and she has no control over it. After her therapist said that, she never saw him again.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I'm very worried about and I am frustrated because what I can do is limited.

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Concerned, you are facing a difficult situation, and you have my sympathy. It sounds like your wife is shouldering all the responsibility for her mother's care, and it has worn her down emotionally. It also sounds like she is unwilling to let go of any responsibility. You describe both her mother and father as wanting her to take a break, but she stubbornly refuses. She also discontinued therapy when told to focus on her life.

You said you've had a six year relationship. Has your wife always been more attached to her parents and worried about their lives than about herself and about your relationship with her? Is her behavior now typical? Or has her mom's cancer diagnosis changed her personality dramatically? Has she had a strained relationship with her mother in the past that she may be trying to make up for now?

You have legitimate concerns, but, as you admit, your options are indeed limited. Have you expressed your concern personally to the mother and to the father and asked their help? Perhaps others on the forum will have some advice. You are in a difficult place.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 4:23PM
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This is a terrible situation to be in. It does sound as if your wife is deeply depressed and breaking down under the strain. Unfortunately, when people are depressed they aren't very rational and it can be extremely challenging to change fixed notions.

You are lucky that it appears your in-laws are encouraging your wife to get away for a while. You might have some luck if you remind your wife that her collapse in her parents' home is adding to their pain and burden. Ironically, by pushing herself to the breaking point, she is now making their lives more difficult by adding one more point of concern. This argument might get some traction with her as it's a form of selfishness she might not have sufficiently considered.

If you can talk her out of the country, then her time with you is an ideal opportunity to come up with an action plan that's more balanced and manageable before she returns.

Your MIL's treatment center should be able to suggest respite resources to assist. It is crucial your wife schedule breaks in her duties. Otherwise she's no good to her parents or to herself.

You have my sympathy. It must be incredibly difficult for you to be so far away, unable to offer the support you so badly want to provide.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 4:56AM
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