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The stress that comes from lying - Page 2 - Carers UK Forum

The stress that comes from lying

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
105 posts
Thanks everyone for your comments on this. We appreciate this is a very emotive topic with some strong views, so just want to remind everyone of a few house rules. We will be keeping an eye on this thread.

Firstly, it's really important that we tolerate differences of opinion on the forum. People come to the forum with all sorts of different life experiences behind them, and can have vastly different outlooks on a particular issue. As rule 1 states, please do respect other people's right to disagree with you.

We want the forum to be a safe and supportive environment for carers. However, this does not mean it can't also be a place where people can talk honestly and openly about how they are feeling and even vent about their own situation. We encourage all members to help us get this balance right, in how they post and how they respond to others.

As Scally has said, there is a function to block another user. If anyone does feel that this would help them use the forum in a more constructive way then they are more than welcome to use it.

The forum is a place for debate, discussion and sometimes disagreement. However, if this tips over into conflict then please do contact admin or a moderator so we can deal with it.
Even in a care home I'd have to visit!!! (I want to do one of those 'wry humour' funny faces, but can only ever do the bog standard smiley one.)

I do think, though, that for me there are two difficulties/problems/issues/challenges, call them what I will, etc.

To me, it isn't just the looking after her, it's the having to 'pretend' to her that I don't mind doing it! That's why I called it 'lying' because all my smiling and niceness and solicitude and consideration (and honestly, if you say me with her, you'd never think I wrote such vicious stuff as I do!) (and I know very well it's vicious and horrible, but that's why I value this forum so much, because it's a 'safe place' to vent all the unsayable things!)... all of my behaviour towards my MIL is a 'front'. It isn't actually showing what I really feel - the bitter bitter resentment that I have to look after her, in one respect or other, until she dies.

Obviously I don't feel that bitter and angry all the time - today's been quite good - as JHR57 says, some days are easier than others, and maybe after my VV (Vicious Vent!) last night when I was 'feeling it', I'm now overcompensating and feeling bad and guilty and horrible for having put those feelings into words. And I do genuinely enjoy her company, but not as much as I've got it at the moment, unable to control it.

This last five months since the fatal phone call that has changed my life (The "I can't live up north on my own any more") has been a huge rollercoster, as others here always warn new carers, but I've been trying to work out what it is that 'gets' me, to undrestand just why I am reacting SO badly to what has landed on me! For instance, I've realised that 'evenings' are actually the easiest time for me, as they are my own down time anyway, so I don't mind having an 'extra person' in the living room, or to cook for (even if it is earlier than I like!) and quite like watching Corrie etc etc. It's much stressier in the day time when I haven't got the house to myself.

But discovering that one of the sources of my stress is that I have to lie about my feelings, that I have to act a role, be 'on show' the whole time, I can't relax and be myself with her, because my 'true self' would show her how much I don't want her living here all the time, has been a revelation. Maybe it's because I'm reading a book about case histories in psychoanalysis (The Examined Self) that show how sources of stress in lives are not always obvious at first.

I do find it interesting, this idea of either being 'able' to care, or 'not able', and perhaps for me the meaning is not in the 'able' or 'not able' but in the definition of 'care'. It seems to me that 'caring' is not literally 'caring' - ie, something that comes from the heart, a voluntary cherishing - it is simply a 'routine' perhaps, things like 'cooking breakfast', 'doing laundry', 'having her in the house' etc etc. It's the acts that define caring for me, not the emotions - maybe that's the difference. I guess I was brought up to do things I didn't want to do, and that's all there is to it.(But I wasn't brought up to do them gracefully and resignedly!!!...as you can tell Image ) (And yes, I'm painfully aware that a major - possibly dominant! - part of my intense resentment, reluctance and rage that I'm feeling now is that having had to look after my mum when young - her needs controlled me almost totally - I DO NOT want to end up at this end of my life doing that all over again! AND for someone I don't even love!)(I do NOT want my beginning to be my end!) (I think that's why Is This It?'s name here is just so terrifying!)

So yes, if one defines caring as an 'emotion' then I can't do it, simply because I don't love my MIL (nor does she love me). But that isn't really the definition I've been using (at least to myself) - I define it by the acts of caring, and by that definition, of course, I CAN do it. Indeed, I AM doing it!

Anyway, thank you for your considered replies. It wasn't a nice post to write, mine, and it wasn't a nice post to re-read, and it probably hasn't been a nice post to answer, so I appreciate these 'nice' answers!

Right, time to get off my psychoanalyst's couch (!) and get Granny her G&T! (Feeling quite benign towards her at the moment, thankfully!)

Regards, Jenny
It seems to me that 'caring' is not literally 'caring' - ie, something that comes from the heart, a voluntary cherishing - it is simply a 'routine' perhaps, things like 'cooking breakfast', 'doing laundry', 'having her in the house' etc etc. It's the acts that define caring for me, not the emotions - maybe that's the difference. I guess I was brought up to do things I didn't want to do, and that's all there is to it.(But I wasn't brought up to do them gracefully and resignedly!!!....as you can tell Image
No, the difference is the bit I have highlighted. Caring is indeed a matter of routine and performing acts that your caree is no longer able to do, but by "being able to care" I mean doing it willingly and gracefully - it is a question of the emotional context of these acts. If the desire to care is there then the ability will come with advice and practise, but if there isnt then the resentment that will develop means that it would be better not to do it at all.
Thinking about the stress of caring, it came to me that a substantial part of my stress is the lying I have to do. It's because, when my MIL is with me, I have to live a lie. I have to lie to her in the sense that I can't tell her how stressful it is to have her with me, how terrified I am that this whole carer situation will go on for years and years and years, how much I simply don't want her living with me, don't want to be responsible for her, don't want to look after her, don't want to have to change anything about my life to accommodate her.

I have to lie all the time she's here... Because telling her the truth about how much I can't bear to be her carer, how much I just want her to GO AWAY, would be just unbearably cruel and vicious (and pointless, since there isn't anyone else to be her carer anyway....)
Jenny, you're not alone, I have similar feelings about caring for my mother (who doesn't even live with me), and to a degree, the time I spend visiting my father. I feel I have to put on a cheerful act to jolly them along a bit, cover the way I'm feeling (which is often that I'd rather be anywhere else) and do my "Butlins Redcoat" routine, where I try to lift their spirits a bit, even though I'm often feeling dragged down by the whole situation. It's hard. I think you've every reason to resent the situation a bit and just because you feel angry about things at times it doesn't mean you're not trying your best to do the right thing by your MIL, it's just that in the process you are aware of the toll it's taking on your own health and happiness, so you're looking for solutions.

It's easy for people to say you have a choice, but in practice it's quite hard to force an elderly person to go into a care home unless they are ready and willing to take that step themselves (particularly if they have savings/their own property, so would be self funding and have to agree to take the costs). Sometimes an elderly person hurtles from one health crisis to another and finally the decision is taken out of everybody's hands, but ideally things shouldn't get that far.

SussexRoxx]For someone who is very quick to advise others that they are not obliged to care for someone, and to stop doing it, you clearly seem to be failing to heed your own advice! If you don't want to care for your MIL, then don't![/quote]

SussexRoxx, that seems incredibly harsh of you. I think Jenny has genuine compassion towards other carers who, like her, find that circumstances have trapped them into caring responsibilities for elderly relatives who they are not emotionally close to (for whatever reason). In my view Jenny hasn't done anything wrong in venting her frustrations on the boards - it's much better to vent here than to lose patience with her MIL. Nor do I think that Jenny is wrong in offering advice to those carers that she identifies with - I believe that her advice is given out of concern and a genuine desire to help others. It is not a case of "if you can't do, teach", more a case of "if you can't solve your own problems, maybe you'll feel better if you help others to solve theirs".

Truth be told, this is all upsetting me a bit, as I feel Jenny's actions come from the best of intentions but people are implying that she is just anti the whole concept of caring for others, which clearly isn't true, going by how often she has tried to help other carers.

Don't leave Jenny and don't feel bad about your post - I think quite a few people will probably identify with the whole "living a lie" thing, where you put on an act to humour an elderly person, but find it hard to keep the act up. I'm like that every time I visit Dad... pretending I like being with him, pretending I enjoy our little outings, while inside I'm bored out of my mind but know it would hurt him so much if he ever knew that. He has very few visitors apart from me, but we've never been close so it's far from ideal for both of us. Maybe he's pretending to appreciate my visits more than he really does, and maybe inside he knows I find them a bit of a drag(?), but we both make the best of it, it's just what people do in these situations. I'd never cope with his company 24/7 though, even without the dementia. I hope you find a solution to your problem soon Jenny.
SussexRoxx,

I think in some ways it's easier to see things clearly and solve a problem, when it's someone else's problem and you're not emotionally involved.

There's an old saying, "Advice is the one thing that people are always willing to give, but rarely willing to take." Sometimes, we know the solution, but can't accept advice - even when it's our own... "advice to self". So, just because Jenny hasn't got her own problems sorted out yet, that doesn't mean it's wrong that she offers advice to others. It's true that some of Jenny's posts are quite direct, but I think that's due to her being angry when she reads about people being taken of advantage of.

PS: SussexRoxx: I have read quite a few of yours posts and noticed you've crossed swords with Jenny before. You're both intelligent people, and both of you have empathy for others, albeit in different ways, so maybe it's just a personality clash? Yes, life is harsh and you've both had tough situations to deal with, so maybe you've more common ground than you realise?
Nobody wants to become a carer. We all want our children to be born 'perfect', our partners to be whole and healthy, our parents to be active and mentally alert and everything in our garden to be rosy.
But life doesn't work like that.
Sums it up perfectly. Thank you, Myrtle.
I totally agree Sprinter.

The only problem with this thread is that I, along with others, thought that Jenny was asking for advice. It seems that we were wrong. We could have saved ourselves time and and effort and stress.
Oh well! Lessons learnt. Image
Crocus writes:

"No, the difference is the bit I have highlighted. Caring is indeed a matter of routine and performing acts that your caree is no longer able to do, but by "being ABLE to care" I mean doing it willingly and gracefully - it is a question of the emotional context of these acts. If the DESIRE to care is there then the ability will come with advice and practise, but if there isnt then the resentment that will develop means that it would be better not to do it at all." (I've transliterated her bold into caps, because it's easier for me on my keyboard)

What strikes me is the final part here: that 'resentment will develop....so better not to do it at all'....

I immediately think 'better for whom?' For me, certainly! No doubt about that. It would save me a lot of mental stress and physical time, etc etc. But would it be better for my MIL if I 'succumbed' to my unwillingness to have anything to do with looking out for her at all?

If I simply emailed her son in the USA and said 'over to you!' - and expected him to fly over here, see social workers, buy her a sheltered flat, put her in a care home, take her back with him and sort out something in the USA for her, etc etc? If I never saw her again, or never spoke to her on the phone? Or if I just phoned the social services and said 'over to you' and let them do whatever it is that social services do when there is an eldery person with no one at all to do anything for them? Or maybe I should just text my son at uni and say 'Granny's all yours, darling!' and dump everything to do with her on him?

So no, I don't think it would be better for my MIL if I refused to have anything more to do with her.

Question is - whose 'better', hers or mine (let alone her son's or mine!) takes precedence?

Which is, I think, a very interesting question - and one that perhaps if anyone wants to discuss it, really needs a thread of its own, which I shall start.
This a totally personal post and hope my typed words come across in the manner intended, and no offence caused. If so accept my apologies upfront. Been so long since I have posted like this, as for a long long time now I have done as per usual and closed myself off whilst I cope with stuff at home. Very rarely I practise what I preach about leaning on others for support Image Image

With over 35 yrs of caring behind me, almost 7 yrs on this forum, I have learned so much and this last month those lessons have been put to good use. Most here know that I would have walked over hot coals for my mam and now Robert, again for hubby. However, recently I have been faced with taking on another caring full time role on. One that I neither want to do or physically/mentally able to undertake. I have just reduced my hours at work from 19 to 13 as needed more at home for hubby. Saying I am knackered is an understatement.

Anyways, like all geordies I am going off topic, rambling too much Image Image

Till joining this forum I always believed everyone cared when the need arose. That everyone loved the person they cared for. However, we all know that is not the truth. Whether through duty, or in some cases feeling trapped in a caring role etc , there are many situations and none of them the same. It is not always a bed of roses. How we can convey our daily lives using typed words is open to so many interpretations. Like with a footy match, you have one referee on the pitch but another 50,000 in the stands.

That's why I strongly believe that we need hear from all carers, all situations, as you never know who is reading and is being helped.

This current situation I have been in, it has been posts from wor Scally and others that has helped me - the time to just say NO, I cant do it, NO, I wont do it. Words I never thought myself possible of saying and which bring a new emotion, one of guilt. Hopefully that will lessen, but I have had to prioritise 3 people I already care for and unable to take on a 4th.

What has been the result of saying no, was that person put at risk. They definitely were not. Yesterday was non stop with social workers, OT's, community matrons and district nurses. Result was a care package put in immediately last night and from today 4 visits per day.

I am still heavily involved and will remain so, but it has been other members sharing their own feelings and stories here that helped me take a stand.

Like Jenny I have been lying for months, to others but mostly myself. Yesterday that changed and although the guilt is there, so is a sense of relief.

So from bottom of my heart I would like to thank you all


x x
I'm glad you've been able to find another solution. To me, it sounds like you've quite enough to contend with as it is. (But then, from everything I've written on this forum, that's what you'd expect me to say, and I certainly do!).

May I ask though, if the person you haven't taken on board for caring for yourself minds that you are not going to do so? Are they hurt and upset by it? Did they personally want you to care for them?

I ask this, not to 'challenge' you, let alone, dear heaven, to 'contest' your decision, but simply as questions that I think get to the heart of this issue about caring, which I've put across into a new thread on what, if anything, is our 'duty of care' from a moral point of view.

(Your situation is critically different from mine, morally, though, as you have only turned down this fourth person because you are 'full up' with caring already, and simply cannot take on any more caring, any longer - I'm only balking at caring because my nice comfortable, solo, indy do-what-I-want-when-I-want life is under threat!)

I hope you enjoy your relief - to my mind it is ENTIRELY well-deserved!

Kind regards, Jenny Image
105 posts