Young and feeling lost

iiformommy
iiformommy Member Posts: 7

I've been struggling to find the proper outlet for this... thank goodness a quick Google search brought me here and showed me there was a better place to cope than Facebook or Tumblr.

My mother was diagnosed with cancer and was sent to a distant hospital where we don't have any family or friends. Our family decided I was the best person to be her caregiver - I am 25 years old (youngest in the family), single, and early in my career. I was more than happy to be her caregiver - she's my mother, and I would do absolutely anything for her. I sublet my apartment, negotiated with my employer to allow me to work part-time remotely, upended my constantly busy/active/social lifestyle, and moved across the country to care for her.

It's been about a month (not very long at all, I know), and I'm so glad i've been able to help my mother through everything she's been going through. However, while I still want to care for her and will still do anything for her during this time... I feel like I'm struggling with the transition and feel like I'm lacking in support as a caregiver. I am constantly taking care of my mom, worried about her falling, feeling naseous, eating well, getting enough exercise... etc. When I do take a break for myself, I feel guilty for leaving her and worry that something will happen to her while I'm away.

I still work, I still exercise, and generally eat healthy, so I think I have at least that portion of self care down. However, I feel like my mental health is slowly starting to deteriorate. I know it is worse to actually have the cancer, but part of me is wondering why I have to go through this as a 25 year old, in strange city, with people I don't know, and all my so-called family and friends seem to have forgotten that I'm here alone, living a completely 180 lifestyle from what I used to live.

I love my mother dearly and am going to stick with her until her treatment is done. But how do control the feelings of guilt, pity, sadness, and anxiety that are starting to consume me?

Comments

  • rebalspirit
    rebalspirit Member Posts: 1
    Guilt . . . don't entertain it

    As someone who has spent the majority of my adult life feeling guilty for breating air, guilt is highly over-rated.  I've worked hard on giving myself permission to be a person and have a life, even while caregiving my disabled husband.  I've finally found peace with my needs and my husbands needs.  Sometimes sacrifices need to be made, but not on a daily basis. 

    My faith is important to me and there is a story told of Jesus visiting with Mary and Martha where Martha is resentful of Mary's sitting at Jesus feet while Martha is busy in the kitchen trying to prepare the meal for Jesus's visit, all by herself.  Jesus responds, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but only one things is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken from her." (Luke 10:41-42). 

    No matter what your faith or, none, all agree that Jesus loved perfectly and his encouragement for Martha was to take better care of herself emotionally and spiritually.  The tasks could wait, but the relationship could not.  Are you task focused, or relationship focused with your mother?  And are you doing anything locally to get your relationship needs met?  Taking care of yourself in the beginning will probably cause guilt to arise, but your anxiety over feeling guilty will not kill you.  Take care of you anyway.  Just do it.

    No, life is not fair, and yes, unless you reach out first, the rest of your family and friends back home will not reach out to you.  You must reach out to them and share how you are doing and let them know when you need a break, because you will (you sound like you already do) need a break.  Tell them!  Don't wallow in self-pity.  It will only keep you stuck and miserable.  Be honest with yourself and your loved ones.  NO ONE can caretake 24/7 without some relief.  It is simply not possible.  Pretending that you can is not helpful and not loving for you or your mother.  Because it is dishonest.  Anyone who would question your love for your mother because you need a break is not someone you need in your life right now.  Take care of you.  You need your oxygen mask before you can put your mother's oxygen mask on.  If you do not, both of you will run out of air. 

    God bless you,

    Robin

  • Noellesmom
    Noellesmom Member Posts: 1,859 Member
    First of all

    I don't know who decided a 25 year old should take this on but, whatever, it is what it is.

    Does your mother require 24/7 caregiving?  How long will the treatment take?

  • iiformommy
    iiformommy Member Posts: 7

    Guilt . . . don't entertain it

    As someone who has spent the majority of my adult life feeling guilty for breating air, guilt is highly over-rated.  I've worked hard on giving myself permission to be a person and have a life, even while caregiving my disabled husband.  I've finally found peace with my needs and my husbands needs.  Sometimes sacrifices need to be made, but not on a daily basis. 

    My faith is important to me and there is a story told of Jesus visiting with Mary and Martha where Martha is resentful of Mary's sitting at Jesus feet while Martha is busy in the kitchen trying to prepare the meal for Jesus's visit, all by herself.  Jesus responds, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but only one things is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken from her." (Luke 10:41-42). 

    No matter what your faith or, none, all agree that Jesus loved perfectly and his encouragement for Martha was to take better care of herself emotionally and spiritually.  The tasks could wait, but the relationship could not.  Are you task focused, or relationship focused with your mother?  And are you doing anything locally to get your relationship needs met?  Taking care of yourself in the beginning will probably cause guilt to arise, but your anxiety over feeling guilty will not kill you.  Take care of you anyway.  Just do it.

    No, life is not fair, and yes, unless you reach out first, the rest of your family and friends back home will not reach out to you.  You must reach out to them and share how you are doing and let them know when you need a break, because you will (you sound like you already do) need a break.  Tell them!  Don't wallow in self-pity.  It will only keep you stuck and miserable.  Be honest with yourself and your loved ones.  NO ONE can caretake 24/7 without some relief.  It is simply not possible.  Pretending that you can is not helpful and not loving for you or your mother.  Because it is dishonest.  Anyone who would question your love for your mother because you need a break is not someone you need in your life right now.  Take care of you.  You need your oxygen mask before you can put your mother's oxygen mask on.  If you do not, both of you will run out of air. 

    God bless you,

    Robin

    Thanks for the kind words and

    Thanks for the kind words and advice. I'm doing my best to take care of myself first, and I'm really trying to keep the guilt under control. I'm also going to start seeing someone from behavioral health to talk through some of this stuff... I hope that helps a bit.

    I'm also reaching out to my friends to check in with them. I think part of what is difficult about that is I almost don't want to hear how they are doing. They are all going about their lives without this (I hate to call it this) "burden," and while it's nice to talk about stuff other than cancer and treatment, etc., it just reminds me that I can't do any of those things for a while. Again, struggling a bit with the "woe is me" factor of feeling this way.

    However, on the bright side, I will be getting a break next month when my sister is able to come relieve me. So there's at least that to look foward to. :)

     

  • iiformommy
    iiformommy Member Posts: 7

    First of all

    I don't know who decided a 25 year old should take this on but, whatever, it is what it is.

    Does your mother require 24/7 caregiving?  How long will the treatment take?

    It was mostly my mother's and

    It was mostly my mother's and my decision for me to come take care of her. My father is not well suited to be her caregiver anymore. He was tired of it a week into it, but I needed some time to get all my affairs in order to be able to move out and take care of her. My older sister has a more established career, so it would have been more difficult for her to leave it. We don't have any other relatives close enough to be her caregiver, so I was the "best" option.

    My father has been with me for the past month, but has actually been more of a burden to me than a help. We do not have a good relationship, and while I have tried to fix it over the past 5 years, and especially this past month, given the situation, he appears to have no interest in fixing our relationship. That said, he is leaving the facility where she's being treated next week and it will just be my mother and I moving forward. She has nine more weeks of treatment as long as everything progresses okay. 

     

  • Ladylacy
    Ladylacy Member Posts: 773 Member
    Caregivers

    It really doesn't matter what age you are, being a caregiver is hard and even harder when no one else seems to either be able or want to help.  You get worn out, you say things you regret, even at times you pray that it will be over with soon.  I know.  I was my husband's caregiver for 5 years.  The worse was the last two months of his life.  You get tired, you ask why me and you say things you regret even when you apologize for saying them.  I used to tell him I wasn't mad at him, I was mad at the situation.  My mother lived with us the last 2 years of her life and my husband took care of her during the day because I was still working and so we already knew some of the problems that would arise.  I still regret some things I said to her when I was tired after working all week and then taking care of her.  But she understood and would tell me that time and time again.

    Grown sons were too busy with their own lives to help.  Maybe would come and visit every month or so.  One would call every week checking on his dad and then would say how are you doing.  Other 3 called when they thought about it.  But of course, when they needed something they would call.  Inlaws, lived too far away to help and too old to do much.  One called constantly checking on her brother and me, the others occasionally. 

    My siblings were too busy with their own lives to offer any help even though 2 live close by.  One would go by the house a lot to go shopping but couldn't bother to stop in and check and see if she or her husband could do anything.  Neigbors were big help when needed.  One neighbor's daughter called and visited with dinners, etc. more than my own children.  So yes caregiving is hard regardless of your age.  I wouldn't trade the time we had together but I do regret  a lot of things I said to my husband even though I told him I was sorry and I loved him.  He knew how hard it was on me (today he has been gone 7 months and apparently none of our sons or grown grandchildren seem to remember).  You have to take care of yourself.  Go for a walk, to the store, read a good book, take up knitting or crocheting.  And above all talk about your feelings and don't feel guilty about anything you say that is wrong or do that is wrong.  You are important too, remember that.

    Wishing you peace and comfort

  • Noellesmom
    Noellesmom Member Posts: 1,859 Member
    Stop the regret, lacy

    It is not justified for you to feel regret. 

    You did a good job but we caregivers are only human.

    Hugs.

  • Teach76
    Teach76 Member Posts: 351 Member
    Getting relief

    I was in a position of caring for my Dad with no help from siblings and like you, I felt a multitude of emotions from guilt through anger.  You mentioned that your sibling has a good career built - would it be possible for her to give you at least a few days of relief?  Maybe you could go and stay with a friend for a weekend.  You could make it a little "staycation" not costing too much beyond your travel.

    it may be time to talk to siblings and tell them of your frustration.  Sometimes thanks is just not realistically enough.  If it is not possible for you to get away, how about a sibling coming to stay for a few days to see what being a caregiver is all about?  I remember after my Dad passed others kept saying, "I had no idea what all you did for him." Maybe I should have invited them to see.

    i wish you the best, and I can tell you from personal experience - you will not regret this time in your life.  There will forever be a bond between you and your Mom, and special moments will never be anyone else's to share.  

     

    Blessings!

  • aligirl
    aligirl Member Posts: 2
    Wait, Did I Write This?

    Hey there "I for Mommy",

    Reading this, I honestly thought I had wrote this. I returned from California to Massachusetts in September 2015 to begin looking at grad schools for fall 2016. Just after Christmas, my mother went in for her checkup at Dana-Farber as she had a small bit of melanoma in the spring. Well, in those 9 months it had spread to multiple parts of her body. She had one round of immunotherapy (the cutting edge chemo-like treatment for melanoma) and her immune system overreacted to it, creating a full body rash that rendered her temporarily blind and in fevers that made her incomprehendible. She's back home after 2 1/2 weeks in the hospital, able to see, but weak as hell.

    Already, moving back home was a struggle. I had my own life in LA, good friends, adventures, and now I had to be home for dinner every night like high school. Those feelings of being trapped are now exacerbated because the moments that I typically would have work off (I work part-time and have an internship), I am expected to be home with my mom. I will say, I am lucky as my mom has not had nausea or become a picky eater, but mom's typical neurotic ways have come back. She wants the living room to be vaccuumed, but cannot vaccuum so I must, even though it's not dirty. Things like that.

    It's hard to go back home, but this whole ordeal is not something I signed up for. It sounds terrible to put it that way, but it's true. 

    I could not imagine going through it alone as you have mentioned. My father and sister, who just graduated from nursing school, are helpful with those tasks (meds, meals, exercise, etc), but the emotional burden is still there. 

    It is not fair that your family and friends have forgotten you. I think it is alright for you to bring them to their attention. "Hey Aunt Sue, I'm feeling really overwhelmed with the responsibilities at home. Could we talk some time?" or "Hey Aunt Sue, I wanted to give you an update on mom. (UPDATE) It is beginning to get to be a lot to handle. I was hoping you could help me out sometime. Are you able to pick up a meal for us one night this week?"

    My family has found people want to help, but they don't know how. It can be awkward asking for help because so many times we are told to be independent, but I think we get a pass. For example, my aunt came over to watch my mom when my sister and I were at work and she asked what she could do. I let her know we needed the living room vaccuumed and she ended up doing the kitchen and bathroom too!

    And if people say no, that's on them. There's a difference between "No, I can't because I'm bust with work/family" and "No, I don't want to do that." The latter is just selfish. You are allowed to be selfish because you are dealing with a major life event.

    As for your wellbeing, I'm glad you are working and taking care of your body (wish I could say I was). As someone who has a lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety, I have been seeing a therapist anyways and it's good to know I have a standing weekly appointment with someone. My therapist helps with the emotional things, but also helps think out the practical things. With ObamaCare, all health insurance companies must cover mental health services. I can guide you through that if you have not navigated it before. There are also caregiver support groups - ask your mom's cancer doctor. Google searches tend to send me in circles, I'm finding. 

    Anyways, I am wishing you the best. It is good to know I am not the only young person dealing with this. As I look to my peers, I realize that though many have experienced divorce, none have experienced death or dying parent and it can feel like there aren't "real" people who go through this. 

    -Ali

  • iiformommy
    iiformommy Member Posts: 7
    aligirl said:

    Wait, Did I Write This?

    Hey there "I for Mommy",

    Reading this, I honestly thought I had wrote this. I returned from California to Massachusetts in September 2015 to begin looking at grad schools for fall 2016. Just after Christmas, my mother went in for her checkup at Dana-Farber as she had a small bit of melanoma in the spring. Well, in those 9 months it had spread to multiple parts of her body. She had one round of immunotherapy (the cutting edge chemo-like treatment for melanoma) and her immune system overreacted to it, creating a full body rash that rendered her temporarily blind and in fevers that made her incomprehendible. She's back home after 2 1/2 weeks in the hospital, able to see, but weak as hell.

    Already, moving back home was a struggle. I had my own life in LA, good friends, adventures, and now I had to be home for dinner every night like high school. Those feelings of being trapped are now exacerbated because the moments that I typically would have work off (I work part-time and have an internship), I am expected to be home with my mom. I will say, I am lucky as my mom has not had nausea or become a picky eater, but mom's typical neurotic ways have come back. She wants the living room to be vaccuumed, but cannot vaccuum so I must, even though it's not dirty. Things like that.

    It's hard to go back home, but this whole ordeal is not something I signed up for. It sounds terrible to put it that way, but it's true. 

    I could not imagine going through it alone as you have mentioned. My father and sister, who just graduated from nursing school, are helpful with those tasks (meds, meals, exercise, etc), but the emotional burden is still there. 

    It is not fair that your family and friends have forgotten you. I think it is alright for you to bring them to their attention. "Hey Aunt Sue, I'm feeling really overwhelmed with the responsibilities at home. Could we talk some time?" or "Hey Aunt Sue, I wanted to give you an update on mom. (UPDATE) It is beginning to get to be a lot to handle. I was hoping you could help me out sometime. Are you able to pick up a meal for us one night this week?"

    My family has found people want to help, but they don't know how. It can be awkward asking for help because so many times we are told to be independent, but I think we get a pass. For example, my aunt came over to watch my mom when my sister and I were at work and she asked what she could do. I let her know we needed the living room vaccuumed and she ended up doing the kitchen and bathroom too!

    And if people say no, that's on them. There's a difference between "No, I can't because I'm bust with work/family" and "No, I don't want to do that." The latter is just selfish. You are allowed to be selfish because you are dealing with a major life event.

    As for your wellbeing, I'm glad you are working and taking care of your body (wish I could say I was). As someone who has a lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety, I have been seeing a therapist anyways and it's good to know I have a standing weekly appointment with someone. My therapist helps with the emotional things, but also helps think out the practical things. With ObamaCare, all health insurance companies must cover mental health services. I can guide you through that if you have not navigated it before. There are also caregiver support groups - ask your mom's cancer doctor. Google searches tend to send me in circles, I'm finding. 

    Anyways, I am wishing you the best. It is good to know I am not the only young person dealing with this. As I look to my peers, I realize that though many have experienced divorce, none have experienced death or dying parent and it can feel like there aren't "real" people who go through this. 

    -Ali

    Hello

    Something I may not have made clear - I did not move back home. My mom and I are in DC, a place neither of us have ever lived before. She actually lives overseas in Germany, and I live in California (we are a military family). Our relatives are either in California or international, so asking for relief is asking someone to fly across the US or across an ocean to take care of her. While her family and friends love her, it is a lot to ask of them - both financially and as a time commitment, because the trip would probably be a few days versus just asking them to stop by for a few hours for dinner or something.

    My sister is coming in a few weeks to give me a little break, so I am looking forward to that. I also tried to speak to a behavior specialist about my feelings - she did state I was experiencing some mild depression and anxiety, and recommended I continue to exercise more self care, which I am trying to do. We'll see how I'm feeling in a week or so - I'm hoping that taking breaks more often and making more of an effort to socialize will curb that depression and anxiety.

    Thanks for the well wishes and advice. I'm sorry you're going through something similar, and I hope the best for you and your mother.

     

  • iiformommy
    iiformommy Member Posts: 7
    Teach76 said:

    Getting relief

    I was in a position of caring for my Dad with no help from siblings and like you, I felt a multitude of emotions from guilt through anger.  You mentioned that your sibling has a good career built - would it be possible for her to give you at least a few days of relief?  Maybe you could go and stay with a friend for a weekend.  You could make it a little "staycation" not costing too much beyond your travel.

    it may be time to talk to siblings and tell them of your frustration.  Sometimes thanks is just not realistically enough.  If it is not possible for you to get away, how about a sibling coming to stay for a few days to see what being a caregiver is all about?  I remember after my Dad passed others kept saying, "I had no idea what all you did for him." Maybe I should have invited them to see.

    i wish you the best, and I can tell you from personal experience - you will not regret this time in your life.  There will forever be a bond between you and your Mom, and special moments will never be anyone else's to share.  

     

    Blessings!

    Thank you

    Yes, my sister is coming in a few weeks to relieve me for a week. I'm not sure if I will be able to go anywhere, as a flight back home is quite expensive, but it will be nice to get some help.

    I don't believe I will regret this either - I just want to be able to make it through this without losing it. I think I can... I just need to make sure to take care of myself and stay positive. :)