I’m not much for Dr. Freud’s ‘talking cure’ but, since there’s no-one else with whom I can talk, I’ve decided to tap away.
I’m the caregiver of a bipolar parent who has also been blessed with a tremulous disorder, and kidney disease. And, frankly, I’m at my wit’s end.
Several months ago, I had to have to get my phone company to block her calls to be because she was calling several hundred times per week. With the exception of her cousin who comes by once in a while to take her to on a shopping expedition, and once or twice-yearly visits from her sister 750km away, I’m it. I’ve an estranged sibling in town who I fear will clean my mother out if she could, but that’s a side issue.
My ability to cope with this constellation of issues, is increasingly limited.
Permit me to use an analogy.
Imagine a lake. Typically these are fed from inland weather systems that start on top of mountains and gradually accumulate in lakes and rivers before eventually making their way to the Earth’s great oceans. With the seasons, and with hot weather, the lakes dry and re-fill. Smaller bodies of water have a slightly precarious position. These often have marshlands around to act as sponges to help prevent evaporation during the dry periods.
If you repeated drain the lakes, the marshlands can help the lake recover, but the marshes need time to restore themselves. If you drain the lake again, before the ecosystem around replenishes itself, the lake will come back , but smaller. If the lake is repeatedly deprived this way, you eventually dry out the lake. It becomes, at best a river. It is no longer a reservoir that can replenish many, instead it becomes merely a conduit through which things pass.
This, I believe, is what happens to caregivers who become exhausted by their relations.
Dealing with geriatric bipolar patients with parkinson’s is, in my limited experience, agony.
I attended a group in my region, for caregivers of the mentally ill. After attending several meetings, there was a meeting where no-one else showed up, thanks to inclement weather. So, I had a one-on one meeting with the nurse who was our moderator.
‘Okay,’ I said. ‘Fire away. I’ve attended several meetings. You’ve heard me speak. Any advice?’
She skated around the matter for a but and then replied: ‘You need more compassion.’
I know I’ve no compassion left for my parent. This person has sucked all of that out of me over the last four decades. I was hoping for something I didn’t already know, but what do you want for free?
She seemed a nice person but full of generic advice of no use to anyone such as ‘take a walk’ or ‘try to do fun things.’ No wonder they have all of those ‘no violence in our workplace’ signs up in hospitals. I am not saying, however tempting, that the severely mentally ill should placed against walls and shot, never fear. But, I am saying that people who are forced into the role of psychiatric nurse will reach their limits. This explains why the severely mentally ill have lonely senior years.
Life is too short, after all and people start abandoning them.
So, this is a place where I will vent, rather than destroy another expensive phone. Don’t mistake me, I will be scrupulously fair and speedy in my duties to my mentally ill parent, but not at the cost of adrenal fatigue.