feeling low

twizJune 27, 2006

Hello all - thanks to those of you who replied to my question a few months ago and shared your best tips on coping with this situation.

We are now almost into month 5, and although my FIl is getting better and better every day, I am getting more and more depressed and resentful every day. When he first came here, we thought we were dealing with a sort of hospice situation, and that he was so ill that our goal was to love him to the end. Months later he has gained weight, been taken off several meds (still takes about a dozen) started reading the Wall Street Journal and two other newspapers every day and goes out to dinner with friends etc. He is truly a miracle.

In the midst of all this, the stress and repetition and lack of freedom or spontaneity for me is getting me down. He is sort of passive/aggressive in many ways.... sugar sweet on the outside, but then will pull something like he did this morning: I took an important phone call about my retirement account and went outside to talk. In the mean-time, he comes to the kitchen and makes his breakfast (which I usually do). I finished the conversation and came in the house and exclaimed how thrilled I was that he got things for himself this morning. when he was done, he brought his dishes over to the dishwasher and asked "Should I put these back where I got them from?". I asked him what he meant and he said that he didn't know where the clean dishes were, so he took a bowl and a glass out of the dirty dishwasher which had not yet run (very obviously) and only had about a dozen items in it. This is a GROWN man. Our kitchen has ONE upper cabinet right next to the sink and another one about 8 feet away. Obviously, he didn't look in either place for a clean dish, but rather took pleasure in sticking it to me for being outside when he came in for breakfast.

I have been trying to encourage him to be more i ndependent and do more things for himself. I am wondering now if I am expecting too much. He has done things like this to me before when I have not done something "just right". I have basically given up my life as I knew it to care for him, and I feel very frustrated and resentful.

DH feels so guilty about this because it is all falling on me. I handle it beautifully most of the time, but today I am feeling this overwhelming wave of sadness that these next few years of my life will be like this. I have a beautiful boy who is just 11 and is trying to be a good sport about not being able to go places and do things because we can't be gone very long and need to be there for him at mealtimes.

Please tell me how to keep my grace when I am feeling this way. I am beginning to resent everything about him. I resent the sound of his walker scraping along my hardwood floors (he 'doesn't like" the tennis balls), I resent the way he clears his throat like he is about to spit out a frog, I resent the way he chews with his mouth open, I resent the way he talks with his mouth full. I really resent the fact that he said he "doesn't see the point" of getting a hearing aide because I am the only person he can't hear. We all have to yell around the house to be heard. when he can't hear what I am saying he doesn't ask me to repeat, he just stares at me and laughs. I am so exhausted from talking so loud. I start off every day happy and then it seems he says something that just sends me over.

Please don't get me wrong... I am frustrated but don't show it to him. I am cheerful and I can't really vent to DH because he already feels awful about this. I am really kind to him and do everything for him. Laundry, catheter details, diarheaa details, poopy underpant cleanings, refilling all prescriptions, making all doctor appointments, driving everywhere etc. He never really shows any appreciation for what we are doing for him - it seems really expected. He is a nice person, but carries around a cloud of negativity that hangs in the house. (if asked a question, offered an outing or a cookie his first response is always an excuse why not rather than a "that wuld be nice". I know this is just how he is, but it is dragging down an otherwise cheerful household.

This is so much better for him than any nursing home - and he can't live on his own because of the catheter and his inability to cook for himself. did I mention that he will be 94 in October? But he is healthier every day.

Honestly, I cannot bear to think that the next 5 years of my life and my son's teenage years will be like this. I don't even like to be at home anymore and leave the house every time I can. I worry that my son will become resentful of this negative force in our home.

I have gone on too long. I am just REALLY feeling it today!

thanks for letting me vent. hugs. trish

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keep venting. It will help. One thing that is so hard to remember is that sometimes the thinking process goes haywire and logical thought processes just don't happen. I don't think that he deliberatly used the dirty dishes to annoy you, but that he really couldn't think of anything else to do. The impaired mind is a strange thing.

Maybe this example will help you understand the way his mind is (or isn't) working. I've told this story before, so if you have heard it.....just bear with me a momment. My mother stayed with us for a while. She was capable of doing a lot of things like cooking, cleaning, etc. One night, she had gone to the bathroom. We could hear the water being turned on and off. On and off. Over and over again.. Finally, I thought I had better go see what was going on. She knew that she needed to flush the toliet, and it needed to have more water in the bowl for it to flush, but she had forgotten HOW to flush it. That little handle in front of the tank didn't ring any bells for her. So she was filling up her shoe with water from the sink and pouring it in the toilet bowl. She thought I was sooo smart to figure out how to do it.

See, she understood what needed to be done, she could even figure out a way to do it, but something screwed up the memory part that would have told her to push the little handle down.

This is the weird part of what the damaged mind does. It's difficult to understand why something works as well as ever, but there are big gaps. Perhaps he understands that you want certain things, but he can't understand "why" therefore, it doesn't make sense to him now. It may yesterday, but it doesn't today.

Take care of yourself. Do what's best for ALL your family. It may be time to start looking for an assisted living/nursing home situation. Know what your options are. That little boy of yours is very important.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 3:58PM
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October update. Just returning here to the forum for a "booster shot". Have been reading your posts and so glad to see so many familar names (deborah, helene, agnespuffin).

We are now in month 9 of FIL living with us. We are well into daily routines, so the physical aspects of caring for FIL are all in place. The hard part is still the emotional side. The stress is building and the depression of thinking that this could go on for years is getting the best of me. He is healthier now than he was a year ago when he was living alone, yet he cannot return to that arrangement. He decided to sell his house, and it is under agreement, so the possibility of having him return there with live-in help is no longer there.

The stress is evident in our daily lives. DS is now in 6th grade and his home work every afternoon is a great struggle. It is hard to get him to focus on what needs to be done, and my emotions are so raw and close to the surface by the afternoon that I lose my patience with him sooner than I should. It also bothers me that FIL is sitting there in his chair taking this all in. DH is stressed by the whole thing too, though more just guilty because he knows I have to deal with his Dad's dark cloud all day. We have had more spats lately than in 14 years of marriage - and we know it is just because there is this negative presence in our house and there is no end in sight.

There has been and probably will not be any discussion about assisted living. Since he is getting HEALTHIER here every day, there is no reason for him to move anywhere else for any other kind of care. There is nothing about his medical situation that we haven't been able to handle.

I try to think positively and thank my lucky stars that we don't have "real" problems like so many others, but that thinking lasts a few fleeting moments and I am ready to run away from home again.

I worry about my son's teen years and how on earth we are going to manage them in this very unprivate situation. FIL always seems to feel compelled to respond after we have had a "teaching moment" with our son. His comments are always some inane, simplistic, "why should this be a problem" type of thing that isn't really on target or helpful in any way. Fact being, he wasn't very involved in the upbringing of any of his 7 children, so I am afraid I don't see him as a good resource for child-rearing advice.

What do you do when your are feeling low and beat up by the care-giving? Just hearing from you would bring me up a bit. Everyone thinks I am coping so well because I am always cheerful outside of the house. I am maintaining some of my activities (working out) so I am getting some "me time" and not really feeling guilty about that. I feel guilty about everything else I feel though.

Sorry to vent. Hope you are all well.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 12:09PM
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Trish, don't forget that there are alternatives that are still open to you. There are also retirement communities that offer separate apartments in a non-medical setting with three meals a day, maid and laundry service, transportation and activities. This is not assisted living, and yet it is not living alone. Would this be an option?

I think that you are doing a brilliant job of holding it all together. A bit of venting and taking care of yourself are important things to remember. I wish you could be here for our support group! But I'll send out a hug for you right now.

But continue to explore options. Don't feel guilty---you are doing a wonderful job.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 12:54PM
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Helene, thank you for the hug. I am thinking that I might try to find a caregiver's support group in my area. I will call the senior center tomorrow and see if they have one up and running already. Otherwise, I might start one. I think it would be a great way to exchange ideas (and frustrations) without bringing it on my own family. DH has a stressful job and has a low threshold for "complicated feelings" - such as I am experiencing. If he knew how depressed I am getting about this he would feel so awful. We don't have many alternatives, since FIL is already 94. He will not willingly go to any kind of alternative living arrangement. His next step will be the hospital after some kind of infection with his catheter or similar thing. Otherwise, he is here permanently.

My DS has been a doll about all this. He is very perceptive and really gets what is going on. Sadly, he also is very aware of the tension in the house. It is hard to put a finger on..... just a negative energy... a dark presence. FIL does not outwardly complain every day, but he has very little positive to say when he does speak and just sits there looking glum. I "entertained" him early on, and took him out to lunch and on other outings, but I do that less and less now. I tolerated his horrid eating habits for about the first 6 months, and now I have a hard time sitting at the dinner table with him. We've mentioned to him that we can't understand what he is saying when he speaks with his mouth full of food, but he continues to do it. It is almost as if he waits to put in a forkful before he starts to speak! I feel so guilty about being grossed out by this, but it just never ends and my defenses are being worn away.

Well, thanks for the hug Helene. You are a doll for sure. I would love to join your group! How far would I have to fly to make the meetings? You would all have me smiling, I am certain of that.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 5:59PM
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I'm in California, and we'd love to have you here with us. Ask at your local Senior Center and check other resources such as the nursing homes or mental health office, etc and see if you can find a good lead. I don't think that CSG are common, so do start one!

Just remember that at your FIL's age, things can and will change, and sometimes rapidly. So nothing is forever. And take care of yourself!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 6:31PM
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hi Trish! i know just how you feel, but things are different when it isn't your parent, you feel that you can't just "let it go" and basically tell them like it is. in one of my other posts i mentioned that i was going to see a "mental health specialist" (ie - shrink). well i spent all that time answering all their questions and had an appointment the following week, to find out that i am "normal" that i am a wonderful caregiver and was told i don't know how you keep it together and do everything you do. - duhh for me it's something i have to do out of love and nothing else. i was also told that when Al started getting really ill, that i had to face facts that is when your marriage really ended (yes, she said that to me!) call me old fashion but i thought marriage was forever. but one thing that she did tell me and promise her was that i would not bring in any elderly parents or relatives into the house and care for them ill or not (yes she said that!). what about when families all lived together under one roof? she said it was a receipe for disaster. i really don't know about that because it all depends on the person and the family. i do know where your're coming from with your son. it's so hard, and because oftheir age (my kids are 23 and 18). it's fine for the first while and then the novelty wears off. when Al's mother was alive, you couldn't pay my kids enough for them to even spend time with her. when our son lived at home, i made sure i went to every sporting event that he was in and spent time with him and his sister separately. carley our dd, only remembers her dad being ill, so she doesn't know any different. i do know how it is with homework, even at the best of times things are sometimes hard, plus with your fil, it even makes things worse. i have given up keeping that clean,clean home and figure it's better spending time with my kids and Al. i am happy to say that our kids turned out better than fine! matthew was promoted again last week (second time in 6 weeks) and carley is now in university for free, because she studied hard to get those marks to get scholarships,burseries and grants that you don't pay back. on the other hand the girl across the street is a month younger than carley (they are not friends even though they went to school together) and she did not graduate from high school and has a criminal record. so it shows everyone is different. do you have anything called EAP (employee assistance programmes) through your or your dh's work, you can include any family member just to talk things out and get things off your chest (they are free one visit per month) this didn't work for me and our kids didn't feel like opening up to a stranger, but it may work for you. you probably feel like me tired, not feeling like doing much but apparently things are supposed to get better, but when!(lol). i am on paxil and actually have a doctor's appointment in an hour, the mental health person said that the dosage should be raised (but shrinks are not allowed to write perscriptions) the only thing i've noticed is that i've gained about 20 pounds!
i have gotten the best advice here though, from our dear,dear friends, which is take time for you! the laundry and dishes will wait!
and i'd like to give you a big hug too!!!!

ps - really nice weather here, and you should see how pretty the leaves have changed here!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 10:11AM
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Oh Debbie - thank you so much for your thoughts today. Believe me, it helps! And yes, I have gained 7 pounds since the day my FIL came to live with us. I am small, so 7 lbs is a LOT. Seems I'm not yet depressed enough to stop eating!! LOL!!!!

I think that it would probably help to get some advice from a professional about how best to manage my feelings about this but I think it might cause more problems than it would solve. You're right, you do it out of love.... but when the love gets drowned out by the negative feelings, you are left to run on duty alone. If I told DH that I wanted to go to a counsellor, he would not handle it well ( he would think I was not capable of doing this job and overreact I am sure). I'm sure that meds would keep me from feeling so sad in the afternoons, but again it is more situational than medical I think.

I just really want my life back. I gave up piano lessons and my women's singing group because of the time I would need to be away from the house. Initially it was OK, because it opened up more time for other projects I had wanted to do around the house. Now as the months go by, I don't want to be in my house anymore. I want to be away every minute I can.

DH works hard at his job, so I dont mind working hard at mine... its just that the rewards aren't as tangible. He gets a paycheck, I don't even get a thank you. I got one several months ago - but only after I had mentioned it to one of my sisters in law and she let into FIL. But day to day, the meals prepared, laundry done, sheets changed, bills paid, dr appts made and driven to, special food in the house that we would never eat etc. etc. etc. It is as if he expects this of me. He isn't my father. I hardly know him. I don't know if I would even like him very much if he was a neighbor or a relative other than DH's father.

I know that I will be glad that I did this some day. DH's siblings are very supportive (though geographically distant) and say I am a "saint" - but I don't feel that way. I know they mean it as a compliment, but my feelings are not terribly saintly right now. I am feeling unappreciated and resentful most days. Not very saintly at all.

Thank you again for the support. Debbie - I am so thrilled for you that your kids are doing so well. It is surely a challenge. Special hug to your DD - who is making her way for herself. I can only hope that my younger son grows into that kind of hard work and determination. The older one is off and doing well on his own, but it was a rocky trip through the rapids to get him there. I hope the second one is a little bit easier.

Thanks ladies! And the trees are just starting to turn brilliant here and there. By the end of next week it will start getting really pretty!


    Bookmark   October 5, 2006 at 4:03PM
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