Just completed my continuing education (CE) for my California Marriage and Family Therapist license (LMFT). To renew my license this time around, among the courses I took, I chose the following three timely and emotionally charged ones: Older Adults and Mental Health, School Refusal, and Chronic Illness in Children.
Yes, I’m firmly in the Sandwich Generation, parenting a sensitive adolescent while caring for aging parents. Here I am in the middle, somehow balancing it all even though I have bipolar disorder. I can hardly believe that I’m stable all things considered.
For those wondering, I do not see clients. Graduated with a Masters in Psychology in 1990. Licensed since 1992. Haven’t actively practiced since I was 30. But in recent years I’ve activated my long-time inactive license by taking the continuing education coursework, for I identify as a healer, as a therapist, even if I no longer make a living doing so.
I use my knowledge and skills elsewhere, like here, and in parenting my son (which I do imperfectly), caring for my parents (also trial and error) and loving my husband.
Sunday evening I relaxed after spending the afternoon letting my husband grab his favorite tools from my father’s garage before Hughes Estate Sales takes everything not now in storage. After consulting with my sister, decided to move and store very little – the rest we will sell or donate to charity. No sense spending a bunch of money on packing, moving and storage.
Decorated my parents’ room at Silverado Memory Care with my mom’s favorite paintings and charcoals by Leon Derbyshire, Seattle-based family friend. Today I learned that my father took them down, confused thinking that they were in a hotel and had to pack up to leave. He asked that I put everything down in writing for him because he keeps forgetting.
My husband has had fun wearing one of my dad’s big straw hats. He insists that he met me years ago in the mid-80’s as I studied on the beach, and that he was intimidated by my father wearing a big straw hat and sunglasses as he stood on their second floor deck keeping a watchful eye on his daughter and her would-be suitor. My dad scared him off back then, but welcomed him in our life when I was thirty-one.
Recently my mother slammed the door on her speech therapist. She refused nursing care for herself and blocked nurses from seeing my father. Her behavior has caused both of them to be discharged as patients from home health services. No more home nursing visits, physical therapy or speech therapy.
My parents reside in a board and care near my home where they are fed and cared for by caregivers. They still are seen by an internist with expertise in treating seniors. They take their medications. And, I have requested that a psychiatrist see my mother.
Back to the story about my mom… When I visited, my mom restrained me and blocked me from leaving their room. My husband felt compassion for my parents and questioned whether they received adequate care (they do). (He supports me now and tries not to offer opinions or “fixes.”) I ended up feeling so out of control and overwhelmed that I posted this to Facebook:
I really need a friend right now. Feeling alone, isolated, misunderstood, on my own, unsupported, inadequate.
I received just what I needed – love and support. Here are responses I posted:
Today I heard that my mom’s home health care providers were discharging her as a patient because she refuses service and slammed the door in their faces. I’m working so hard to help and feel so helpless. Hard to just let it be.
I’m stressed out caring for my parents and for my son. Got to me. Just broke down. Feeling better but the weight of my responsibilities remains. Must let go.
Thank you, friends! Greatly appreciate all the support. My feeling isolated passed. You all helped. Spoke to my dear neighbor. In the midst of family crisis. Will be ongoing for a while. Stress can weigh too much and wear me down at times. Sometimes I throw up my arms and cry for help. Thanks for answering my cry.
All the love is loud and clear. The mood has passed. The stressors and triggers remain. Have to let go of what I cannot control.
My mother’s speech therapist (a great guy and excellent speech therapist) called me today so that I could participate in her speech therapy. Friday, when I first met with him and my parents, he told me to work with my mother daily. Afterwards, I freaked out, was bitchy and short-tempered with my husband and son, and finally called my sister who reminded me that I do not have to do what the speech therapist tells me to do.
Tuesday when he called, I was too busy to join them. My son had school (or at least was scheduled to attend school, he got a migraine and stayed in bed). My father’s brother and sister were visiting from Chicago. And…I had psychotherapy (which I needed). So…I told him that I could not make it.
He called again this morning. At first I agreed to meet him at my parents’ board and care. Then, I thought, no, I need to relax today. Tuesday was eventful. Wednesday, even more so.
Yesterday I arranged for my son to Skype his morning class (I forget why he struggled yesterday. Each day is a new struggle.). Then I sat on the panel as a (former) mental health provider (I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who maintains her license but hasn’t practiced psychotherapy for over two decades) to teach NAMI’s Provider Education course (teaching it every Wednesday afternoon this month through the first week of February). Then…I had dinner with my husband, aunt and uncle. VERY BUSY day for me. Social demands stress me. I needed to recuperate.
Needing moral support, I talked to my son who agreed I should cancel (not his job to offer me moral support, but he was handy). He, after all, is sick again today, and he is my primary responsibility (yes, I know, I’m not his responsibility, but I need him to help out more now). So…I called the speech therapist back and told him I couldn’t participate in my mother’s speech therapy due to my need to take care of myself (as I have bipolar disorder) and my son (as he has chronic health issues). He was very understanding. Afterwards, I called my sister for congratulations which she enthusiastically gave me. Yay!