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Self-introduction (2) - Carers UK Forum

Self-introduction (2)

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
Hello, I'm Karen and I care for my 76 yo mother. I'm reaching out to others because I'm just so tired (mentally, emotionally and physically). I tried being assertive earlier today and now I wish I hadn't - I won't go into all the comings and goings but I'm sitting here feeling bad even though I know I have legitimate right to have my own time and spend it as I wish...we are very different people, my mother and I. We have no shared interests - conversation doesn't really take place because I'm usually the listener rather than the speaker. Topics of conversation usually cover what she needs to do (and which I need to facilitate), places she needs to go to (and which I need to provide transport), and weather (sometimes for parts of the world where I'm not in). I was recently called selfish over some trivial dispute, so why am I trying? I feel like I've given up my life in the service of hers and I can't see that changing. What terrifies me is that when she passes, that I may be so eroded as an individual that I don't know how to survive...that all sounds very dramatic, but I need to get it out of my head and know that line of thought is a reasonable conclusion in the circumstances. For a while being passive made for an easier life, now having turned 50 it's suddenly struck me that I have done myself a great disservice and now it could be too late for me to have a life. Need some hope.
Hi Karen

I've split your post so that more members will be likely to see your message :)

From your post I am assuming that you have had a difficult conversation with your Mother today and that, maybe, you've said things that you now wish you hadn't ?

This is something that happens to all of us at some point - I remember having a melt down with my Mum over something quite trivial and then feeling so guilty for the things I'd said. It's par for the course - after all we are only human and can only take so much before we break. My Mum had Alzheimer's so she forgot the altercation very quickly but I felt the guilt for a long time afterwards.

It's not too late for you to have a life of your own - you just need to work out how to go about achieving that. You don't say what is wrong with your Mother so I don't know whether your role is 24/7 and she can't be left alone or whether you do have some time to yourself in which you can pursue your own interests ? If it's the former then perhaps you need to sort out a "Needs Assessment" for her to ascertain what help is out there to enable you to have some free time.

https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advic ... assessment

You might also want to consider talking to someone via our Listening Support Service
https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advic ... rt-service
Hello Karen, you’ve come to the right place for support and good advice.
Please don’t feel guilty about wanting a life of your own. You need to actively make plans as you’re mother could go into her nineties and if nothing changes imagine how you will feel by then.
I am made to constantly feel guilty by my mother in law, she hates us going out and constantly says she’s ill if we make any plans- suffice to say we don’t go. I have sacrificed seeing my children and grandchild due to having to be around.
However, advice from this forum has helped me take small steps to changing my situation and I have sorted out carers ( once a day well-being visit) which has stopped daily calls where we would drop everything and rush round there. She isn’t happy though!! She said she doesn’t need them, but I had the courage to say that if she cancels them, we may not be able to go around at short notice.
I also sought advice from a psychotherapist who explained that her hypochondria was an expression of her trying to exert power over her own body but also over others behaviour- she described it as being akin to slavery! She advised us to ignore her symptoms, keep things light and conversational and put in boundaries around our time. This has been extremely difficult, especially as she tells others she is not well and has no one to look after her! She sees us five times per week, we do her meals, shopping, medication, washing , take her to the hairdresser, all appointments and yet this isn’t enough!! But we have learned that anything we do will never be enough. She is 95 , physically robust and will probably see us out.
So shed the guilt and get yourself a life. You can still help and support her, but on your own terms.
Many years too late I read that as people become older they become more and more "self focussed" and increasingly unable to see how much others are doing for them. I could write a book on how our own parents did this to us!
Once you understand this, and realise that nothing will change unless you force change it gets easier. Trying to reason or negotiate becomes pointless, a waste of breath.
You sound as if you have become what I call a Clapped Out Carer, having done so much for so long you are utterly exhausted, there is nothing more to give. Most carers find our forum at this stage. You are among people here who totally understand.
Tell us a bit more about what you are expected to do, and why and we can give you some ideas for you to think about. Whatever our careers think, none of us can be forced to care!
When did you last have a proper holiday?
For the last two weeks I've been on holiday in Crete, where I stay in a hotel for single travellers only. I have made some new friends, one also a carer, the other has health issues, as I do. Our average age is about 68. We spent the last two weeks feeling free, we've walked, laughed, eaten and swum every day. I was so tired when I left, now I feel so fit and well. We all treated ourselves to a massage from someone who trained as a physiotherapist. I was shocked to find just how tense I was. When our careers are so self focussed, there are times when we too must self focussed, and have something to look forward to, and plan. My room is already booked for next year!!!
Wise words as ever, but I didn’t realise how difficult it can be to implement.
A mixture of guilt, worry, anxiety and “what will the neighbours think” kicks in and can impact on the best of intentions.
I’m building up the courage to say we’re going to see my son up north for a few days next week, and I’m dreading it😬😬!
Dump the guilt.
Are you responsible for making mum old or infirm? Of course not!
It's SAD she is not as fit as she was.

As to "what the neighbours think" if any say anything ask them if the could pop in and care for mum for the day so you can go out. They'll run a mile. All they are doing is guilt tripping you so they don't have to do anything.

What are you worried about?

You have every right to visit your son, in fact if you don't see him enough because of mum, then that's not right.
Thank you for taking the time to reply to me...yeah I think I am a bit clapped out. I also think that there are echoes of the self focus and the manipulation that others have experienced. In very brief terms, she had cancer surgery a few years ago. The immediate period of recovery required assistance with personal care etc, but now she is an otherwise healthy 76 yo. Apart from some residual pain from the surgery, she has no medical conditions. She has no cognition issues. So having said that her issues are related to confidence, self esteem and mental health. She's a strong character, there isn't any room in her make up to accept that she may have some part in her loneliness. She feels abandoned by people who were once friends, but again that is perhaps more to do with her reluctance to engage with other people. Apart from advancing age, she doesn't need social care. Any suggestion that I employ a cleaner to help out round the home is dismissed. It's me or no-one. I feel like I'm being held hostage through a combination of expectation and guilt tripping - almost as if I owe her. I've already investigated what support I can access, but she doesn't need assistance. It's me that needs the the support - but what I can access is limited. Of course I have friends but I don't want to be that person who is miserable every time they're with me. I suppose it sounds like I'm feeling sorry for myself but I wanted to find some comfort from shared experience. This all blew up because I tried to communicate my need for some space and time but that was interpreted as rejection which quickly escalated into discord. Yesterday I felt hopeless, today I don't feel so hopeless.
Please request a needs assessment.
I so recognise your comments about not wanting to be the person who is”always moaning.”
That’s how I feel and so I bottle up my feelings and end up feeling even more upset and resentful of my situation.
Getting things out on this forum has been helpful, as has the knowledge that you’re not alone or a horrible person just because you feel as you do.