Wednesday 25 May 2011

A bit of "me time" urgently required, I think...

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...


  1. Ack, poor you! I'm sorry you're under so much stress. I don't know what you'll think of this suggestion, but I wonder if you have ever tried anything like mindfulness techniques. I know they are usually associated with pathological anxiety whereas your life is full of external stress, but they probably have a similar effect on the brain. The idea of mindfulness practice is to choose something like an object, music or a picture, and for 5-10 minutes you describe it to yourself mentally and focus all your attention on it. If your attention wanders or you start thinking about something else you notice that and bring your attention back. It takes a little bit of practice and it's quite an individual thing - for example, I can only do it with objects which engage two or more of my senses, like looking at and feeling the weight and texture of a pretty stone. But it is very effective - it's the cornerstone of DBT, so there's a lot of research behind it, and I have used it successfully even when I've felt like I'm going out of my mind with anxiety.

    Of course a trainee CBT therapist like myself would suggest a behavioural technique ;) but it struck me that there isn't much you can do to change the circumstances of your life at the moment, and as you said if you went on an actual holiday you would carry on worrying - so maybe a few brief mental holidays throughout the day might help a bit? It's just a thought and it might seem like a daft one, but I thought I would suggest it anyway :)

  2. I'll try that technique, thanks... I had a series of counselling sessions last summer but they were next to useless because much of what is going on is outside my control - and that kind of stress counselling tends to be aimed at people with stressful jobs, etc. Not quite the same thing... And, unlike a job, it's with you 24/7...

  3. Batty Matty,
    big breath. You need some care (self care is a great idea but sometimes I think we need care care!)
    Ben, it sounds like he is still in a difficult place but you can't always down tools for him, can you say to him look Ben am really tried today I know you are bored but I have to get this stuff done for dad,
    I know this sounds crazy but would he help you clean the hosue at all if he needs to keep 'busy'?
    I Do you have other siblings on the aged sick pareent roster, you seem to be doing it all.Your dad visits are great and supportive but not if they are making you stretch too thin. He may need you for a while yet. He is in a safe place a the moment. Can you visit every second day? And call every day. He is probably worried about you too you know.
    Paper work stuff, is there a family friend or realtion that can help wih this at all? Even if its info searches or phone calls.
    Your job - set aside work blocks of time, depending number of hours you need. ornnig used to wok for me - after breakfast till Lunch.
    The hosue - is there anyone you can call on to do a clean? How are your H and Son at pitching in. Maybe you have to let them know how much it is getting to you. Very hard when worknig at home to concettrate when hosue a mess. I'm not overly industrious around cleannig but I like a bit of order and I hate it when it gets grotty.
    Can HW be rostered to share it around?
    Buy out a meal a week, a home cooked casserole from a cafe i know an expense but can just take one less chore of list for a day.
    You are a carer this is so tiring, you can only stretch yourself so thin and you will get ill. Sounds like you are very fragile already. SO delegate, say no, change your routine and don't feel guilty about it. It doesnt mean you don't love and care for your parents but you are worn out.
    Please take care and be knid to yourself, ask for help where you can.
    No room for pride or I should be coping thoughts. Meh, you need care.

  4. Thanks for your lovely feedback, Amaya. Ben cleaned the house yesterday (in payment for some new shoes!), so that's sorted for a week or so - and my sister has been visiting my Dad so I've taken some much-needed "time off". See my latest entry for more... Thanks again, BM x