Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Rochester, NY
| | Looking for support and help
I am looking for anyone who has experienced this for him/herself or with a family member. Thank you.
I live at home (age 39) with my parents who are retired (Mom is 65, Dad is 72). Ever since I can remember, Mom has had her highs and lows. About 15 years ago, Mom battled depression and anxiety pretty badly - to the point where she felt she couldn't be left alone (I quit my job for a year to stay home with her while my Dad worked). Most prominent symptoms were weeping, depression, talk of suicide, hopeless, and helplessness. She has never been the same since, but is still a loving person.
Almost three years ago, her symptoms started again. Pretty bad. Wouldn't get out of bed or eat, slept all the time. When she was up, she spent her time fretting and weeping and hopeless and "in terror" (her words) of something she can't name. She has fainted a few times.
Mom constantly says she doesn't feel well (although she can't quite put her finger on it), and is very worrisome over things like how her body functions (every day she is upset over a stomachache or constipation or blurry eyes or heart palpitations), and her family members. She says she doesn't worry, but she does. Sometimes she wakes up crying over having had a bad dream.
Around the time of this second "relapse", my Dad was diagnosed with treatable Bladder Cancer, which he has undergone several surgeries (he went through them fine), and is now in remission although he still has routine exams. Dad's tiredness now mostly comes from Mom's behaviors.
Mom had a very difficult (abusive) childhood, and at an early age was given the job of care giver and fixer for her family. I know that has carried over into her adult life, and Mom is sometimes overwhelmed with making decisions, ensuring that Dad is "safe" (to the point of being fearful of him doing anything - like using a ladder or doing heavy gardening - and obsessing about Dad's weight), and she seems to need a lot of approval. She seems to have to be in control, even when she is not, or she can't be.
Her demeanor at times is almost childlike, looking for approval, looking to have someone make decisions for her, being dependent on her family, not being left alone, etc. She tends to focus on the negative a lot, to include imparting of sad news (ie., things she reads or hears on the news).
Over the last year, her behaviors are apparent almost all the time, but are the most horrendous in the mornings. She is up with me (I get up at 5 AM for work), wringing her hands, pacing, crying, worrying about the day. She says all she thinks about is getting from one minute to the next. She doesn't sleep well through the night, which I think adds to her anxieties and depression. But she now eats, and her afternoons are better, but she is still more comfortable sticking close to home, so we don't do much as a family by way of travel - even out to restaurants.
Anxiety and depression run in her side of the family, my brother (age 37) and I both have some of this on some level - although I think our coping skills are better.
Mom waxes and wanes about treatments. Somedays she begs me to help her, so I offer to find her another doctor, or take her to the one she has. I have accompanied her to many appointments. I have located a few counselors, and she has finally been sticking with the one she has been seeing for the past year, but she sees him only when she is "feeling better", so the mornings that she SHOULD be seeing him, she doesn't. She has tried a few medications, but some of them have made her sick, and she is phobic in general about taking medications, and when she does try one, she has major panic from it. Then she stops. She has been examined by a few doctors who have all agreed she is experiencing stress/anxiety/depression and nothing else.
Sometimes Dad and I get angry with her - the fact that she walks around acting so helpless and sounding so depressed. When she is really upset (her mornings) she will yell at us and tell us to leave her alone.
I know my Mom has never been a truly happy person. But now that she and Dad should be enjoying themselves in retirement, they aren't. I wonder if sometimes Mom's behaviors aren't acting out, and then I feel bad for suggesting that. I am not sure at this point when else I can do for my family. My Mom has always been there for me, and sometimes I don't feel like being home. I never know what I am going to find when I come home from work. The stress at home is heavy, and sometimes when my Mom says she wishes she wasn't around anymore, I feel that way too. I don't that is an honorable way to feel and I carry guilt about that. Not that I wish anything bad towards my Mom, she is my best friend, even though sometimes she doesn't act like my Mom any more.
I really think Mom has severe emotional/mental problems. Sometimes I think she is going crazy, although her doctors don't feel this is the case. I don't know what to do. It's difficult to listen to her in so much pain and not know where to go. Again, sometimes she wrings her hands and tells me she doesn't know what to do to get better, so when I suggest that she tries medication she gets mad and says that's what I always say, or when I offer her to go to the doctor, she says no "what are they going to do?". I've tried "tough love" and have even told her that if she doesn't take more steps to take care of this issue, that she will end up in the hospital.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist of what I am trying to convey here.
What did you do to get past the roughest momemts? What did you do to help someone else? ANY input is appreciated. I also will post this on the Depression/Anxiety Boards. Thank you all so much.