Depressed caregiver

Posted by deek15redpeppers @deek15redpeppers, Jul 17 12:35pm

My spouse has metastatic kidney cancer which they don't think will end her life, lots of comorbidities and is disabled. Most recently she has severe sternal pain from a fracture, so is mostly housebound. I can't see a light at the end of the tunnel and am really down. Deek

Hello @deek15redpeppers Welcome to Connect. We’re a group who all have our own individual health challenges. But everyone tries to help each other with resources and tips on what worked for them and what didn’t. But were not doctors so we can’t diagnose or prescribe medication. I’m sure you’re burned out and down especially with this year we’ve just experienced. We will try and do our best to support you.
Are you a full-time caregiver? Do you have help with your wife’s care and/or the house?

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Hello @deek15redpeppers Nice to e-meet you here on Mayo Connect! I'm Scott and I was my wife's caregiver during her 14+ year war with brain cancer. I can certainly understand your feelings of being down. I, too, often fought feelings of depression during our journey.

I wish I had some magic suggestion for how to manage the often difficult and always arduous trail of being a caregiver. I know every patient, their disease, and caregivers are unique, but I did find one thing that helped me. My dad was an alcoholic so I was familiar with the lessons, etc. of AA and took one of them as my caregiving mantra…."one day at a time". Looking at each day as its own journey helped me a lot. Plus I kept an old pillow on our sofa, which I often used as a punching bag and to cry in on the really bad days, which, as you know, always do happen.

I also remembered an old adage someone shared with me a long time ago. It is this: "Courage does not always roar. Rather sometimes it whispers 'I did my best today and will try again tomorrow.'"

I am happy to share more if you'd like.

Strength, Courage, & Peace

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@deek15redpeppers I see @becsbuddy and @IndianaScott have already welcomed you, so I will add my greeting here.

I have several health issues that do not allow me to participate as fully as I would like to, both in life in general, and my marriage. There is no doubt that it has affected my emotional health as well, and has affected my husband. I told him I will participate in joint activities able, never knowing what each day may bring. And if there are things he wants to do, go ahead and do them. Take that motorcycle ride. Go off for most of a day, wandering a car show or outdoor gathering. In February he took off camping for almost 3 weeks. He spends a lot of time tinkering in the garage.

As a caregiver, you also have the right to take care of yourself, to have respite from the daily ups and downs. Have you spoke to your spouse about what you have expressed here? You may find they are concerned for your well-being, also. Will you let me know if you have more questions on how to approach this, please?
Ginger

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Thanks for everyone's comments. They brought tears to my eyes and things to think about. My spouse (we're a same sex couple) is able to do her personal cares, so I shouldn't complain. We don't need outside help, but I feel guilty leaving her to go do something fun.

I usually get out for a 3 mile run every day and the last 3days I have taken a walk just to think and listen to music. It's my only chance to talk to a friend about my feelings, as my spouse is always around otherwise. She gets defensive if I try to talk about feelings and told me if I want to be happy all the time I should just leave. That's not what either of us wants. We have a virtual meeting this week with the palliative care social worker, but my spouse says she doesn't need to talk.

Thanks for listening.

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@deek15redpeppers

Thanks for everyone's comments. They brought tears to my eyes and things to think about. My spouse (we're a same sex couple) is able to do her personal cares, so I shouldn't complain. We don't need outside help, but I feel guilty leaving her to go do something fun.

I usually get out for a 3 mile run every day and the last 3days I have taken a walk just to think and listen to music. It's my only chance to talk to a friend about my feelings, as my spouse is always around otherwise. She gets defensive if I try to talk about feelings and told me if I want to be happy all the time I should just leave. That's not what either of us wants. We have a virtual meeting this week with the palliative care social worker, but my spouse says she doesn't need to talk.

Thanks for listening.

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@deek15redpeppers Getting out to exercise is a great way to help work through your feelings, and get endorphins up to help stabilize your mood! I'm glad our comments gave you some ideas, show you are not alone, and care that you get through this time.

Palliative care social workers can be a blessing. Even if she doesn't want to talk, gently encourage your spouse to be present for the meeting. And if she insists there is no reason for her to do that, make sure you are there. Taking care of yourself, and understanding the mindsets of those we caregive for, is important.

Will you let me know how this meeting turns out, please?
Ginger

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@deek15redpeppers

Thanks for everyone's comments. They brought tears to my eyes and things to think about. My spouse (we're a same sex couple) is able to do her personal cares, so I shouldn't complain. We don't need outside help, but I feel guilty leaving her to go do something fun.

I usually get out for a 3 mile run every day and the last 3days I have taken a walk just to think and listen to music. It's my only chance to talk to a friend about my feelings, as my spouse is always around otherwise. She gets defensive if I try to talk about feelings and told me if I want to be happy all the time I should just leave. That's not what either of us wants. We have a virtual meeting this week with the palliative care social worker, but my spouse says she doesn't need to talk.

Thanks for listening.

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You absolutely have to take your walks or do something else to fill yourself up. My daughter's husband just went through a horrific surgery, but he's doing amazingly well. She called me yesterday when she was out walking because she's discouraged. She said that he's healing amazingly well and there is no cancer left, and she's waiting for him to experience gratitude. Well sometimes the person who isn't feeling gratitude for a miracle just isn't there yet. Even if all of that is done with, and they are healing they need to go through their own mourning process for what happened. They are still too numb from all that they went thru….chemo, radiation, surgery, tube feedings, or are going thru. Each member of the family doesn't get to peace at the same time, and the sick person is depressed and a bit crabby. But you need your walks, your sip of coffee at a cafe with a friend, your yoga workout in the park with a buddy. Whatever fills you up or you won't be able to help her. Her husband yelled at her, which he doesn't typically do. But he said the words. "I'm depressed, I'm climbing the walls." she's exhausted from being his support person, and she sees them as ready to be grateful, and ready to move on. Well he isn't. You need to hear her words. "If you need to be happy all of the time then just leave." Not leave forever, but go for a walk. clear your head. She just isn't happy, and neither is he. I haven't followed your story, and came by it by accident, but I'm one of her supports while she supports him. Find your support wherever it is, and leave the house to re-create yourself, so that you can support her. Go into a different room and listen to music and pet the cat, call home, do what brings you some relief even for a 1/2 hour…watch chick flicks after she falls asleep. Your daily walk is hugely important, just learn to do it w/o guilt. Guilt is a luxury you cannot afford right now. An hour for a walk or run with head phones, and listening to music is a necessity right now. My daughter works full time as a CEO and is very busy, but took time to be home while he experienced this journey, but her walk or her 7 mile run kept her sane. Without some relief she would be a basket case. Take care of yourself. You must. Began to take the guilt free walk every day. You have my permission. Kiss her on the head as you go out the door, and enjoy the fresh air. Then when you go back you can have a sip of green tea together or maybe pick dandelions on the way back, and put them in a jelly jar for her. Be creative. If she's still angry it still isn't your fault. But do what you can to take care of you. You are important.

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@lizzier

You absolutely have to take your walks or do something else to fill yourself up. My daughter's husband just went through a horrific surgery, but he's doing amazingly well. She called me yesterday when she was out walking because she's discouraged. She said that he's healing amazingly well and there is no cancer left, and she's waiting for him to experience gratitude. Well sometimes the person who isn't feeling gratitude for a miracle just isn't there yet. Even if all of that is done with, and they are healing they need to go through their own mourning process for what happened. They are still too numb from all that they went thru….chemo, radiation, surgery, tube feedings, or are going thru. Each member of the family doesn't get to peace at the same time, and the sick person is depressed and a bit crabby. But you need your walks, your sip of coffee at a cafe with a friend, your yoga workout in the park with a buddy. Whatever fills you up or you won't be able to help her. Her husband yelled at her, which he doesn't typically do. But he said the words. "I'm depressed, I'm climbing the walls." she's exhausted from being his support person, and she sees them as ready to be grateful, and ready to move on. Well he isn't. You need to hear her words. "If you need to be happy all of the time then just leave." Not leave forever, but go for a walk. clear your head. She just isn't happy, and neither is he. I haven't followed your story, and came by it by accident, but I'm one of her supports while she supports him. Find your support wherever it is, and leave the house to re-create yourself, so that you can support her. Go into a different room and listen to music and pet the cat, call home, do what brings you some relief even for a 1/2 hour…watch chick flicks after she falls asleep. Your daily walk is hugely important, just learn to do it w/o guilt. Guilt is a luxury you cannot afford right now. An hour for a walk or run with head phones, and listening to music is a necessity right now. My daughter works full time as a CEO and is very busy, but took time to be home while he experienced this journey, but her walk or her 7 mile run kept her sane. Without some relief she would be a basket case. Take care of yourself. You must. Began to take the guilt free walk every day. You have my permission. Kiss her on the head as you go out the door, and enjoy the fresh air. Then when you go back you can have a sip of green tea together or maybe pick dandelions on the way back, and put them in a jelly jar for her. Be creative. If she's still angry it still isn't your fault. But do what you can to take care of you. You are important.

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@lizzier Wow, this is so wonderful!! I can imagine that you are a very strong support for your daughter. How are she and her husband doing now?

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@deek15redpeppers

Thanks for everyone's comments. They brought tears to my eyes and things to think about. My spouse (we're a same sex couple) is able to do her personal cares, so I shouldn't complain. We don't need outside help, but I feel guilty leaving her to go do something fun.

I usually get out for a 3 mile run every day and the last 3days I have taken a walk just to think and listen to music. It's my only chance to talk to a friend about my feelings, as my spouse is always around otherwise. She gets defensive if I try to talk about feelings and told me if I want to be happy all the time I should just leave. That's not what either of us wants. We have a virtual meeting this week with the palliative care social worker, but my spouse says she doesn't need to talk.

Thanks for listening.

Jump to this post

@deek15redpeppers– I am a long-time lung cancer survivor and have been a caretaker for a couple of friends and for my mom when she had Parkinson's disease. I had to move into my mom's for a couple of weeks and be a 24 hr. caretaker. My younger sister also helped, but I was there all the time. Even the day that I knew that she would die I at least stepped outside for a break.

Since your wife is very depressed have antidepressants been offered to her so that she might feel a bit energetic and maybe want to do something with you? Have you thought of taking them yourself? I do agree that exercise is the best antidote but sometimes it's just not enough.

How long has your wife not wanted to talk? Can you talk to her at all about anything? She just might be scared to death to open up and talk. I'd give her all the room that she needs and see what happens. Is that possible?

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@becsbuddy

@lizzier Wow, this is so wonderful!! I can imagine that you are a very strong support for your daughter. How are she and her husband doing now?

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My daughter is doing well. She just needed to vent. She's crazy about this guy. She was just having a 'moment'.

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@deek15redpeppers

Thanks for everyone's comments. They brought tears to my eyes and things to think about. My spouse (we're a same sex couple) is able to do her personal cares, so I shouldn't complain. We don't need outside help, but I feel guilty leaving her to go do something fun.

I usually get out for a 3 mile run every day and the last 3days I have taken a walk just to think and listen to music. It's my only chance to talk to a friend about my feelings, as my spouse is always around otherwise. She gets defensive if I try to talk about feelings and told me if I want to be happy all the time I should just leave. That's not what either of us wants. We have a virtual meeting this week with the palliative care social worker, but my spouse says she doesn't need to talk.

Thanks for listening.

Jump to this post

@deek15redpeppers How are you doing today? Explain to your spouse that palliative care will help you understand what she wants and that you will do what she wants. Does she have have an MDPOA? This is a medical power of attorney and health providers look to it when determining care.
When is your virtual meeting? Do you think your spouse will discuss the MDPOA?

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@lizzier

You absolutely have to take your walks or do something else to fill yourself up. My daughter's husband just went through a horrific surgery, but he's doing amazingly well. She called me yesterday when she was out walking because she's discouraged. She said that he's healing amazingly well and there is no cancer left, and she's waiting for him to experience gratitude. Well sometimes the person who isn't feeling gratitude for a miracle just isn't there yet. Even if all of that is done with, and they are healing they need to go through their own mourning process for what happened. They are still too numb from all that they went thru….chemo, radiation, surgery, tube feedings, or are going thru. Each member of the family doesn't get to peace at the same time, and the sick person is depressed and a bit crabby. But you need your walks, your sip of coffee at a cafe with a friend, your yoga workout in the park with a buddy. Whatever fills you up or you won't be able to help her. Her husband yelled at her, which he doesn't typically do. But he said the words. "I'm depressed, I'm climbing the walls." she's exhausted from being his support person, and she sees them as ready to be grateful, and ready to move on. Well he isn't. You need to hear her words. "If you need to be happy all of the time then just leave." Not leave forever, but go for a walk. clear your head. She just isn't happy, and neither is he. I haven't followed your story, and came by it by accident, but I'm one of her supports while she supports him. Find your support wherever it is, and leave the house to re-create yourself, so that you can support her. Go into a different room and listen to music and pet the cat, call home, do what brings you some relief even for a 1/2 hour…watch chick flicks after she falls asleep. Your daily walk is hugely important, just learn to do it w/o guilt. Guilt is a luxury you cannot afford right now. An hour for a walk or run with head phones, and listening to music is a necessity right now. My daughter works full time as a CEO and is very busy, but took time to be home while he experienced this journey, but her walk or her 7 mile run kept her sane. Without some relief she would be a basket case. Take care of yourself. You must. Began to take the guilt free walk every day. You have my permission. Kiss her on the head as you go out the door, and enjoy the fresh air. Then when you go back you can have a sip of green tea together or maybe pick dandelions on the way back, and put them in a jelly jar for her. Be creative. If she's still angry it still isn't your fault. But do what you can to take care of you. You are important.

Jump to this post

Thank you, thank you. You said so many helpful things. What you said about 2 people being in different places makes a lot if sense. My spouse is more accepting of the situation, while I am still struggling with that.

Tonight will be my 5th walk with music or maybe a call to a friend. I'm coming to realize I haven't used my support people as I could have been. It somehow just felt easier to say we were doing okay…when really I'm not.

I am so glad I joined Mayo Connect. The responses have been amazingly helpful in just a few days.

Thank you so much.

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@merpreb

@deek15redpeppers– I am a long-time lung cancer survivor and have been a caretaker for a couple of friends and for my mom when she had Parkinson's disease. I had to move into my mom's for a couple of weeks and be a 24 hr. caretaker. My younger sister also helped, but I was there all the time. Even the day that I knew that she would die I at least stepped outside for a break.

Since your wife is very depressed have antidepressants been offered to her so that she might feel a bit energetic and maybe want to do something with you? Have you thought of taking them yourself? I do agree that exercise is the best antidote but sometimes it's just not enough.

How long has your wife not wanted to talk? Can you talk to her at all about anything? She just might be scared to death to open up and talk. I'd give her all the room that she needs and see what happens. Is that possible?

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Merry, Thanks for your input. My spouse would not admit to being depressed, but she thinks I "need a shrink". We did talk a bit last night and she admitted "life sucks" but she doesn't want to spend the rest of her life feeling sorry for herself. I reminded her of "Tuesdays With Morrie" when he said he felt sorry for himself every morning for 15 minutes, then got on with life. Maybe we should read that again!

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