I started my ‘career’ in caring in 2015 when my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was 83, mum was 80. I was 55, still recovering from a breakdown, dealing with depression and diagnosed with a large (benign/ not cancerous, but detrimental to my health brain tumour). I was and am by nature a ‘fixer’, a finder and implementer of effective solutions. I tried to balance work and being the sole carer for both my parents from April that year. With no other family to rely on, I had a full plate. I took every offer of support I could find, web based, health authority, council, etc. etc. Within 18 months as my father began to deteriorate I had no choice other than to give up my job and focus all my efforts on him and trying to maintain his and mums quality of life, as best as I could. As is the way of these things, his condition continued to worsen and frankly the last 6 months of his life were simply put… cruel, to us all. His passing at Christmas 2018 was, sadly a relief. My mother then became my next ‘project’. She had been with my father for 67 years and never lived alone. I, not realising at the time, took on the role of partner. The prior 3 years were tough and the pressure did not really lift. Supporting dad was a definable activity, repeated and (autopilot) tasks that I just dealt with. More physical than mentally challenging as there was only ever going to be one outcome and he talked, properly talked, with me. The last 3 years have been far more mentally challenging, which I am less armoured against, because of my own issues and my mother’s let call it single mindedness Towards the end of 2019, with huge continuous effort, I had got her through the worst of it, she had begun to build a new social life of sorts, become somewhat less dependant on me and I (in my mind) had a view of actually becoming a retired man, rather than a carer. Then Covid hit.
Even now I feel I am back a square one. In my lighter moments close friends see an occasional glimpse of the ‘old’ me. I worry that I have become a ‘one track’ conversationalist as one way or another, my life revolves entirely around mum. I fear i have become a bore…
What most do not see is the daily guilt, (for my dark side and what I think, or how I snapped at my mum), the fear, (every time the phone rings) and I see ‘MUM&DAD’ on the display, the anger (at her for what she says or does, and at myself for how I react), the despair (because I don’t know how long I can keep doing this), the longing (for a real holiday, without her and without the 24/7 worry of what might happen), the helplessness (that I feel, because I can’t fix everything, or sometimes even the simplest task), the feeling of selfishness (thinking how my life will be so much easier) when she passes, the loneliness (who wants to take me and all this baggage on?) and the tears that all of this brings me to.
There is no ‘one size’ fits all solution to some, or all of this.
We all ‘cope’ or not, in different ways.
During my 6 months of therapy years ago, I learnt that we all have different thresholds to ‘coping’. I think we are all at the same place, reached our own limits, managed by our different capabilities, we just took different roads to get here.
Apologies for sounding off, but in a way it gets it out of my system… til the next time.