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Living with mentally challenged person


Countryman

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Had my depression at bay without meds for a long time and was fairly happy then......my mother in law passed a couple of years ago who took care of her mentally challenged son who is 54 now.My wife made a decision she would start being his care giver.I'm sorry but he drives me crazy.I've tried to deal with him and be kind to him but his behavior is more than I can  take.Our happy life is in shambles now.Everything revolves around him.I'm 64 and was hoping to finally have a few "golden" years.Don't tell me how to deal with this I've tried everything.Anyone else in this situation? Thanks a bunch!

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We're the same age, Countryman, and I faced similar when my elderly mother's dementia came into full bloom a year ago.  The stress ultimately put me in the hospital (and under for 36 hours) with a COPD event.  After that, I learned I had to be "the bad guy" and put my own self-care first.  Took a couple months for me to recover.  That was the last straw.

I'd encourage you (and your wife) to do whatever's necessary to monitor your own well-being.  I suppose I was lucky.   Though I had to sometimes be an ass about it, I demanded her fussy, shallow church ladies make good on their offers to help...and I held them to it (with the assistance of their pastor).  Eventually, Mom's pension and SSR were enough to put her in assisted living.  I felt like I finally had my life back.

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1 hour ago, MarkintheDark said:

We're the same age, Countryman, and I faced similar when my elderly mother's dementia came into full bloom a year ago.  The stress ultimately put me in the hospital (and under for 36 hours) with a COPD event.  After that, I learned I had to be "the bad guy" and put my own self-care first.  Took a couple months for me to recover.  That was the last straw.

I'd encourage you (and your wife) to do whatever's necessary to monitor your own well-being.  I suppose I was lucky.   Though I had to sometimes be an ass about it, I demanded her fussy, shallow church ladies make good on their offers to help...and I held them to it (with the assistance of their pastor).  Eventually, Mom's pension and SSR were enough to put her in assisted living.  I felt like I finally had my life back.

I'm glad you pulled thru this and hopefully are a more "enlightened" person".Not everyone can be a care giver,only a very few.I"ve had others tell me it will get better and so on.The first few months are not so bad but a year or so it starts wearing you down.Its like a dark cloud following you.Thanks for sharing!

 

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Have you looked into respite care? When my daughter was in college she worked for a facility that helped people by taking care of their family members with mental and/or physical special needs. It could be for a week, a month, not longterm but certainly enough time to give the caregivers a much needed break. Perhaps it would allow you and your wife the breathing space to discuss the need to a find a more permanent solution. My daughter is a specialist who works with special needs children.  Even she realizes that if their caregivers are suffering, unhappy, stressed out, or miserable it is not a good living environment for any of them. For your own self care, I encourage you to have an honest talk with your wife and come to a solution that is happier and agreeable for the three of you.

Edited by rainingviolets
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We have hired a sitter to stay with him who is very good.However when we go somewhere there are always the phone calls that something is wrong and we have to come back home.The nearest care center is to far away.Thank you for your advise.

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Yes I have shared with her my feelings she said if I was so unhappy maybe I need to go where I will be happy.There is no where to go.When your 64 and half the person you were its very very difficult to start all over plus I love my wife.The only thing to do is try to accept the situation.I've seen so many like myself but never knew it would happen to us.Life can sure turn you for a flip!

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Though I've had my share of therapists over MY 64 years, I'm NOT a therapist.  That having been said, I have to admit my first reaction to the statement you described is shock.  To my ears there's nothing of love or concern in that statement.  It's sounds cold and heartless to me.  And I'm sorry you'd ever have to face that, particularly since you and I, by virtue of our depression, are the kinda guys inclined to take it harder than some other folk might.

If no one else does, then I'll emphasize that your feelings ARE valid, buddy.

I'm just speculating, but it may be she, too, is stressed out over the caregiver role and you're the most convenient target.  It almost sounds like an angry, childish, defiant dare.  I'm sure others here will perhaps have more enlightened opinions.  tbh, I'd probably blow my stack to that kind of response...and that's why I hope you get other responses.

Is marriage counseling an option?  Best I can offer is that you do what you can to take care of your own mental health.  Let me draw a comparison.  I was in Al-Anon for years, for anyone whose life has been affected by someone's drinking.  In meetings, we'd share and hear stories about outbursts like you described.  What a lot of members eventually learn are tools to help them cope and even emotionally detach from the situation.  I'd have to say that the underlying idea was that our own serenity came first and they offered the tools.  Interestingly, it's not unlike what those in AA learn, except the stakes for them are considerably higher.

Point being, if, for example, that means finding your own counselor without her, so be it.  If that means pursuing pleasurable, rewarding activities on your own, so be it.  Do whatever you can in the way of your own self-care.

 

Edited by MarkintheDark
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On 9/29/2019 at 11:41 PM, Countryman said:

Had my depression at bay without meds for a long time and was fairly happy then......my mother in law passed a couple of years ago who took care of her mentally challenged son who is 54 now.My wife made a decision she would start being his care giver.I'm sorry but he drives me crazy.I've tried to deal with him and be kind to him but his behavior is more than I can  take.Our happy life is in shambles now.Everything revolves around him.I'm 64 and was hoping to finally have a few "golden" years.Don't tell me how to deal with this I've tried everything.Anyone else in this situation? Thanks a bunch!

Hi Countryman! Well, I see what you mean about being between a rock and a hard place. Caring for anybody is hard, and it's worse when you don't have any emotional connection to them. (I have been a carer myself, but to a lesser degree, and even that was sometimes tough, so I get where you're coming from.)

It sounds like your wife is very attached to her brother if she was willing to/wanted to take on his care. I guess there are a few things I want to say about it:

1. It's great that you're trying to be nice to him, but if his behavior is extreme, then this won't always happen, and all you can do is your best.

2. If everything revolves around him, and it's stopping you from having a life, I'd definitely take MarkintheDark's suggestion and try doing fun things alone. I know you want to do it with your wife and all, but for the sake of your sanity, it will do you good to remove yourself from the situation as much as possible in a way that is meaningful to you.

3. It is possible it wont' get better, but it might. However, it will always be hard, and you have to take care of yourself first before you can be at all compassionate towards him.

4. I don't know what sorts of problems the sitter faces with him, but I feel like if they're a trained sitter, they should be able to deal with most things except extreme violence or medical emergencies, so I feel like maybe if you're frequently called home for minor reasons, you need a better sitter. (I don't know the nature of your calls home, of course, so if this isn't relevant, don't take it into account. 🙂 For all I know, the calls home ARE emergencies!)

5. Your wife's statement is quite horrible and lacking in empathy, but it's the kind of thing people do say to one another in these situations, unfortunately. She probably doesn't really want you to leave, but I think you will need to find that compromise between being there for her and her brother, and fulfilling yourself through your own hobbies. If she genuinely makes the decision to choose her brother over you, you may have to look at other -very difficult - options, but for now, assume that she's just stressed herself. (I know from experience that this happens.)

I feel for you, knowing what it can be like, and wish you the best, whatever you decide to do.

Edited by MargotMontage
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Thanks all for the advise and point blank comments.After much meditation and soul searching one has to accept things the way they are.I admit I've been heart-less.I've never been mean or unkind to my challenged brother in law.I'm trying real hard to be in acceptance and understanding.Life throws us curve-balls all the time.Thats life.

 

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5 hours ago, Countryman said:

Thanks all for the advise and point blank comments.After much meditation and soul searching one has to accept things the way they are.I admit I've been heart-less.I've never been mean or unkind to my challenged brother in law.I'm trying real hard to be in acceptance and understanding.Life throws us curve-balls all the time.Thats life.

 

I wouldn't say you're heartless! Not at all!!!!! In fact, quite the opposite. As you say, you've never been mean or unkind. It's just that you lose patience sometimes, as we all do. Don't blame yourself! As long as you're doing your best, you can't do more than that.

I really hope that you can be kind and loving to yourself, and that you will continue to get some support here on the forums.

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