Who Do I Care For, Really?

Definition of caregiver: a person who provides direct care (as for children, elderly people, or the chronically ill) https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/caregiver

I spend way too much emotional and physical energy toward the care of others, aside from myself. Why do I care so much, too much? No doubt due to my upbringing, to my relationship to my parents – trying to please, to earn their love and approval. Why, after decades of therapy, do I still feel and act as an enmeshed parentified daughter? I’ll just leave that question hanging there for now. Not up for explaining alcoholic family dynamics. Too tired. Adult Children of Alcoholics has a good concise description.

Who do I really care for? Good question. My husband and my son are the most important people in my life. I have devoted a great deal of time and energy trying to help my son. Too much, perhaps. No, not perhaps, without doubt. Now, I need to step back, to neglect a bit, to allow for more independence. Time to do just enough. To be just good enough. Just enough. Enough.

My sister, trying to help me set boundaries and stop taking on too much emotional responsibility, reminded me that I am not our parents’ caregiver. They are in memory care. The memory care facility provides their daily care. That’s what we pay them for.

I am not my parents’ caregiver. I am my son’s caregiver, and even he could use less of my care.

Now that my parents both have dementia and live in a memory care community, aside from being their daughter, my role is to be their power of attorney. With my sister, I make decisions on their behalf. I pay their bills. I coordinate their care, which is not the same as giving them direct care.

Before my mother’s stroke, I did not visit my parents regularly. I did, though, talk and play Words with Friends with my mom daily. I miss communicating with her. I miss my parents as they were before dementia. I’m grieving.

Living with bipolar disorder, I must take care of myself. This season, springtime, is a time when I often start mood cycling. I’ve feel particularly vulnerable and fatigued. The longer sunny days trigger hypomania and irritability.

On a more positive note, in January and February and again next week, I’ve been a NAMI Provider Educator for the staff at the hospital where I received both inpatient and partial day treatment twelve years ago. I enjoy educating their staff on what it is like to live with mental illness and to be in mental health recovery. Wish me well next week. We’re increasing the time that we devote to our personal trauma stories, so I must rewrite mine. I may edit my In Our Own Voice presentation for content, or I could take a look at what I have shared here.

47 thoughts on “Who Do I Care For, Really?

  1. vanbytheriver March 19, 2017 / 3:28 pm

    You are so not alone, Kitt. Thank you for articulating your situation so well, with candor and sincerity. Wishing you well, in all that you do. And thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. fotojennic March 19, 2017 / 2:00 pm

    oh my … “longer sunny days trigger hypomania and irritability” I hadn’t even thought of that. In the past, say prior to 6 months ago, I never paid attention to what caused my mania or irritabilty…or depression, or… etc. Thanks for pointing that out, so I can watch for it.
    I can relate to wanting to please and earn parents (or others) love. I’m just now learning that my life is important too and I don’t have to make anyone but myself happy.

    Best wishes for next week!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley March 19, 2017 / 5:04 pm

      Spring doesn’t trigger everyone, but it’s a common mood trigger. Hope you take good care of yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Marie Abanga March 19, 2017 / 5:24 am

    I wish you all the best dear Kitt, thanks for sharing and really do try to care more for you even if it’s easier said than done

    Liked by 1 person

  4. john flanagan March 19, 2017 / 3:11 am

    You’re doing the right thing and that’s wonderful

    Big hugs in support


    Liked by 1 person

  5. dyane March 18, 2017 / 8:07 pm

    Wishing you very well next week – they are truly lucky to have you on board.
    You will do a great rewrite job!

    As for your parents, I’m glad you have a sister with whom you can share the burden. It’s helpful she reminded you not to take on so much.

    I commend you for recognizing the fact you’re grieving for the loss of your parents before their health problems took over – it’s heartbreaking. Because of everything you wrote (i.e. the season being a vulnerable time for your mood, pulling back from your son a little, etc.) please take extra-good care of yourself. As always, you’re in my thoughts and prayers, my dear Hibernophile.

    p.s. This Wikipedia factoid made me snicker: “In some cases a Hibernophile may also be a Plastic Paddy, a person who appropriates stereotypical aspects of Irish culture without understanding it.”

    You could never, ever be a Plastic Paddy!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kitt O'Malley March 19, 2017 / 11:34 am

      Now I have to research Plastic Paddy. I must be one, for I only read the first sentence to get my definitions and didn’t go deeper. At least I’ve visited Ireland (I was only seven). Loved it. It was everything I imagined, especially after living in Saudi Arabia for five years. It was the greenest place I had ever seen, and I regularly visited the Seattle area to see my grandparents. Plus, cool castles and ruins. Felt connected. Still do. Half of me comes from Germany and Bavaria. My grandfather said we were Bavarian gypsies. He liked to tell stories, so not sure if I’m really descended from gypsies…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. paralleldichotomy March 18, 2017 / 7:44 pm

    Thank you for being so open and honest! Please do take care of yourself, though. “Spring Mania” is a thing. I feel it coming on myself, as do some of my other friends living with Bipolar ❤ You’re an inspiration!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kitt O'Malley March 19, 2017 / 11:29 am

      Without a doubt, Spring Mania is a thing. The birds chirp louder, the sun shines brighter, new life is cacophonous, triggering hypomania and mania.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paralleldichotomy March 20, 2017 / 12:13 am

        Yes. It’s currently 3:11 AM and I have been up and caring for 2 five year olds since 8 am. I should be exhausted. I’m revamping my entire site and feeling the creativity flow… It’s the start of an upswing, I know. I just noticed the time… Gonna take my nighttime meds and see if I can catch this before it gets past the creative and fun part to the not so fun part… Thanks again for sharing! And for your strength! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kitt O'Malley March 20, 2017 / 1:10 pm

          Not good! As a mother of twins, you must be twice as careful to maintain your mental health. I definitely take nighttime meds to force sleep when I must. So important! Good luck! (I understand how engrossing it can be to revamp a website.)

          Liked by 1 person

          • paralleldichotomy March 20, 2017 / 7:04 pm

            I’m not actually a mother of twins. My LO had a friend over for a 2-night sleep over this weekend. BUT, your advice is sound either way.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Kitt O'Malley March 21, 2017 / 12:17 pm

            The sleepover may have overstimulated you, too. Maybe. When I have company, I experience it as a boundary intrusion and get anxious about my housekeeping. Plus, you can’t starve someone else’s kid.

            Liked by 1 person

          • paralleldichotomy March 21, 2017 / 12:31 pm

            Very true! (though, you can’t really starve your kid either). Definitely threw me off. Didn’t sleep at all last night & haven’t been able to nap today. That said, I had an appointment today and am doing everything I can to get ahead of it! Hopefully will sleep tonight. I hope you’re hanging in there too!

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Cassandra Stout March 18, 2017 / 7:32 pm

    Oh, I feel you here, Kitt. I’m so sorry you’re caught between raising children and caring for your elderly parents. That’s a tough road to walk. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kitt O'Malley March 19, 2017 / 11:27 am

      Thank you. As I, like many other professional women, waited until my late thirties to have my son, my parents are in the last stage of life while I’m still parenting a school-aged child.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Mark Lanesbury March 18, 2017 / 6:49 pm

    Blessings for your journey Kitt, an ever changing, ever defining ability to recognise yourself, let alone those we love around us. Just follow the love in your heart, it will always be the best that you can do…and recognise the pain that drives beyond that.
    And thank you for educating me, I cannot ‘really’ imagine the difficulties that your condition, or others for that matter, are really going through unless you do as you have, and describe ‘life’ as you step through those ‘changes’, let alone being a caregiver from that place as well. It takes a big heart. Thank you for sharing 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. kbailey374 March 18, 2017 / 6:40 pm

    Always always always telling myself not to do so much, feel so much for others, or that stupid GUILT for – what?? I don’t know! Anyway… I understand. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley March 18, 2017 / 7:27 pm

      Guilt – yes, that’s the feeling I didn’t articulate. Always feel it, feel like I’m not doing enough, like I’m failing, like I’m a failure.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. meloheart March 18, 2017 / 6:33 pm

    I guess this is a question every woman asks herself after a certain time period

    Liked by 1 person

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