Caregiver as Bad off as Care Recipient


November 16, 2021

I am sole caregiver for my husband for going on about six years now. My husband has become partially disabled from cervical surgery, rendering him unable to move his head and shoulders, which is painful and incapacitating in and of itself.

Then a few years ago he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and is on the meds for that as well as an antidepressant, pain med, and xanax. So in addition to his health problems, he is not motivated to help himself or do the things his doctors say he must do to have any quality of life at all.

About 25 years ago, I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and have been treated by a physician who has tried me on a plethora of antidepressants, but finally settling on two for the past four years — a mood stabilizer and Effexor.

However, since my husband’s partial disability my depression is deepening as well as my frustration at having 95% of all duties and responsibilities on my shoulders — which I have been capable of doing throughout all of our marriage (20 years) and having all responsibility on my shoulders, which I’ve always been capable of.  

Though I’ve done my best to hang in there, my mental health is deteriorating even more because his own family within 20 miles of us refuses to help. That has torn me apart in and of itself. My own family lives 980 miles away, so they cannot help. I can’t even take time off to go see my family.

My most effective coping option is solitude. I am not a highly social person, so solitude is my air, my way of coping, but he can’t seem to handle himself being alone and this has been his nature his whole life. I have always been independent. My needs are not taken seriously.

While ultimately I know I’m responsible for my own health, I really do not know where to turn to get that help. Divorce has been suggested, but that should have happened before he became so disabled. It would now feel like abandonment in his time of need. We have always been oil/water but able to work through that before now when he was not so incapacitated.

My world revolves around him and his needs, but I can’t take care of my own needs without adding more medication, which is not the healthy solution for me.  

Bottom line, it’s practically impossible for us to keep hanging in there. I often feel the need to run away or I feel suicidal, but I don’t think I would take that step. As to the future, I really do not know. He is 71 and I am 67.

My needs are as critical as his, but I have nowhere to turn. I’m amazed at all the stories of caregiver depression, but all the coping options seem to be geared toward the person getting the caregiving and scarcely any realistic options for the caregiver who needs caregiving him or herself. Our pain isn’t visible as someone crippled or with obvious physical evidence.

We are not wealthy, but we would not qualify for financial aid for an assisted living home. This catch-22 will sooner or later destroy both of us and I am sure there are many more out there in this same painfully impossible situation. With all the caregiving awareness out there, nothing I have researched seems to address our situation.

 – Anonymous

Reference: reprinted with permission from the Family Caregiver Alliance

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