You know when you pour something into a jar and you can't get the lid on because there's just too much in it? Well, that's my brain at the moment and I appear to have reached yet another "burn-out". However, as we parents know, it's not like a stressful job where you can just walk out and never come back; we're in this for the long-haul, whether we like it or not and whether we can handle it or not. Basically we have no choice. There are 6 things going on at the moment which are causing a serious power surge in my brain -
(1) Managing Ben and his recovery (despite being much better than he used to be, I have to keep my eye on the ball round the clock because ED likes nothing better than to sneak in when your defences are down. Also, Ben is still at the stage where he relies on his parents for "entertainment". Unlike other kids his age, he isn't becoming independent and still rarely sees his friends, although it's much better than the days when he had no social life at all. So there's the constant pressure of knowing that Ben is hanging around, lonely and unhappy, often nagging at us to "down tools" and go out, which only makes me more tired like it did yesterday afternoon... I am also acutely aware of when "all is not well" with Ben. It only takes the slightest action or facial expression and I know ED is at work in his head... like last night...)
(2) My Dad (who is still very much in hospital and has reached a stage in his illness where the prognosis isn't brilliant - for example he'll never be able to eat properly again; now he needs to be fed through a tube directly into his stomach. Meanwhile there's the worry about my elderly Mum and having to support her through it all, not to mention the worry about what the heck will happen when he eventually gets discharged - if, indeed, he does. Oh, and I'm visiting him every day, too, and sorting out his paperwork e.g. complicated shares, getting Power of Attorney, etc...)
(3) My Job (thankfully I work for myself, from home, but I'm finding it very difficult to work. Back in the summer I had no option but to give up work for 3 months because I simply couldn't juggle Ben at his worst with my work. But with everything that's going on at the moment, it's very difficult to concentrate for more than a couple of minutes at a time. I need the cash because H has been out of work for a couple of months. He started a new job this week, but the pay is pretty cr*p, so we still need my wages).
(4) My house (which is disappearing in dust and filth, with laundry scattered everywhere un-ironed or sorted; it's starting to look like one of those pigsties on TV's "How clean is my house?" or whatever it was called. I used to have a weekly cleaner who was brilliant, especially during the worst period with Ben. But when H lost his job, she had to go.)
(5) Meals (with an anorexic meals are vital, as is food shopping. Working out suitable menus, cooking food and ensuring Ben has sufficient for all his other meals so he doesn't "skimp" on stuff is a nightmare. He himself has cooked a few meals on evenings when I've had to visit my Dad, but I'd rather I was in charge, obviously...)
(6) School PTA (well that's had to go. After 6 years of being Deputy Chair, I've had to resign. Mind you, this past year or so I've had to put things on a back burner; however I was always the person in charge of the massive, monster Xmas Fair. In 2009, it was an absolute nightmare as Ben spiralled downwards and we had an ultra anorexia meltdown the day before it took place. In 2010, Ben was better but my Dad was in hospital again. Goodness only knows how I did it on both occasions, but - sorry - this year I can't - so I've resigned).
And I'm acutely aware that I'm neglecting my friends, especially S who has cancer and needs friendship / support...
Last summer I was so stressed that my GP put me on Prozac after I got to the stage where my physical body just "locked" and I couldn't move!!! And when I wasn't like that, I was curled up in a corner somewhere like the kitchen or hallway or bed, in floods of tears, often chucking things around like the day I smashed the 2nd-best dinner service, plate by plate, on the kitchen floor.
So the Prozac deadens the stress and panic to a certain extent. But I've been so anxious this week I can't concentrate and I am feeling totally and utterly exhausted. It came to a head last night when Ben reached out for help because he was battling with a strong urge to binge and it all ended up in a massive row with Ben kicking furniture and chucking stuff around, then storming off. So much for being the model "Dolphin" parent; I bet ED loved that!!!!
So something needs to give and I'm not sure what. Or what can.
A bit of "me time" is needed, yes. But the trouble is, as I found last summer when I took myself off to the seaside for a few days, you can distance yourself physically but, unfortunately, you can't mentally. It goes with you - and I ended up having to come home early. It just wasn't having the desired effect.
Oh, and then there are the physical symptoms - like a skin condition which has reared its ugly head again.
But, hey, life goes on...