I hope that everyone is doing well (as well as one can hope at least). A little summary in case it helps. I was living with my mother who developed Alzheimer’s, looked after her in her home until her doctor told her she needs to go into assisted living for her safety (such a great doctor since he wanted her to go while she was still with it enough to not only choose her place but adjust), I ended up having to basically trick her to move to the residence as she believed she was 100% fine. This of course filled me with guilt I still live with. Within 24hrs she was moved to memory care for her safety. It was a lovely, caring residence. She did adjust and being the amazingly caring and compassionate person she was she never held the move against me. Her Alzheimer’s was getting worse, she was becoming combative and would physically fight the caregivers who would try to clean her (she refused to clean herself even though she was completely incontinent and would sadly have stool all over herself and the washroom). I was advised that her monthly rent would be raised considerably due to needing more people to help clean her. This was quite stressful as this meant she would probably have to move to public care much sooner then planned. In November she tested positive for COVID, was hospitalized. Since I was the medical and financial POA I had to make all care decisions. In the end she sadly passed away and now I am trying to get all things organized and all government bodies notified of her passing etc.
For some reason I seem to be stuck on fight or flight mode after all of this. Anything that comes up in my life that would’ve been a little stressful or inconvenient now leave me nauseous, shaking, fearful etc.
I find that I can fall asleep for about an hour or so but am then awake so sleeping is an issue. Not easy to work all day with at best broken sleep. (I always wonder why about an hour or so before a person must get up do we find the most comfortable and perfect sleeping position and fall into a great deep sleep. )
Has anyone else had a similar response?
Is this normal to no longer be able to deal with things? My brother now jokingly (sort of) calls me paranoid and that I seem to unconsciously look for things to worry about so he doesn’t really take my concerns in life seriously.
will this constant fight or flight instant response go away?
I am doing talk therapy and due to lifelong migraines for the moment my doctor does not want to put me on any medications for depression or anxiety as they can cause worsening migraines (I tried some when caring for my mother and each time ended up with horrible migraines).
I have had to change all my phones ringtones since due to COVID when my mother was in the hospital the doctors would call me to update me and this of course was usually quite upsetting.
Sorry to ramble, I was just wondering if anyone else has gone through this? If so has it gotten better?
Is this normal?
Thank you in advance for all of your help, time and for reading this. It helps to feel heard (or feel seen).
Thank you all again for your help and feedback I do truly appreciate it.
Please all take care and stay safe.
Have you tried meditation?
You can download apps on your phone. Even if it's only a few minutes a day! Exercise helps too!
1 - Good for you that you already are getting talk therapy. This should help you with the emotions of all you're dealing with. May I suggest joining a grief group like GriefShare. The members of the group are all grieving the loss of a loved one and are in different places of healing. They can identify with everything you are facing and can offer the best advice.
2 - Please talk to your doctor about seeing a sleep specialist. Since you are having difficulty falling (staying?) asleep, this doctor can prescribe medications to help you get more rest - especially in light of your other health issues. He/She can also recommend other techniques to try to help your body wind down at bedtime.
3 - Please look for a checklist of tasks to settle your mom's estate. Funeral/Mortuary services may have some. A lawyer who dealing with estates or family law can assist too (but you may have to pay them). Let this guide help you organize all the tasks you need to complete.
No one can go at full power handling everything from A to Z without help and be able to maintain that indefinitely for years at a time. We shut down at some point. The person who did everything will find themselves unable to do anything because they need a rest. I don't mean a good night's sleep or going for a day at the spa. A real rest with real time off.
People think it's not real and that it's no big deal to successfully manage all the responsibility of an elderly sick parent, a full-time job, and your own life without help. I've been told many times that it's no big deal and stop making unnecessary drama.
The only way I can describe it is to compare it to flying.
Picture a huge 747 jet full of passengers waiting to take off. What people are doing what on board to make that flight runs smooth and safe? A flight crew. The captain, the first officer, the flight attendants, and often a flight engineer (who's also a pilot themselves). Then on the ground there's mechanics and inspectors who maintain the aircraft keeping it safe for flight, and air-traffic controllers who look after it in the air. Now what if it was just up to the captain to fly the plane, do the navigation, attend to all the passengers on board, and keep up the maintenance? That plane wouldn't even be able to take off and if it did, would crash immediately. It works because everyone does something. Not just one person doing it all.
You're crashing now. Many of us have a delayed reaction to our experience. I did. The only way to get yourself right is with a long break and rest.
Can you take some time off from work? Like maybe go on temporary disability for a while? If you have kids will your brother help out with them and their needs for a while?
Going to therapy will help you with some of it. Meds will slow you down. They will not rest you though. Like the plane, you need a crew to help for a while. Talk to your doctor about temporary disability for a while so you can take some time off instead of having a nervous breakdown.
Not sleeping. Migraines. Your body is trying to tell you "take care of me now", which is normal after burning out from caregiving. Have you tried working with a registered dietician (RD)? Ask your doctor for a consult. A good RD will work with your doctor after getting results of your blood work and help you address any nutrient deficiencies and foods that trigger migraines. It's worth a shot.
Think of what you've been through. Think how recent it all is. Think what you would say to any other person describing their own, similar situation.
You are not "no longer" able to deal with everyday life and its stress factors. You are temporarily unable to deal with them, given that you have taken a battering and will need time to recover.
And time will work, it will do its magic, but the process is gradual and it can be lengthy.
It sounds to me as if you are coping remarkably well. For example, you've identified at least one trigger - those ringtones - and have done something about it. You also have not lost your sense of humour, viz your excellent identification of deep and dreamless sleep, plus not whacking your brother round the ear. And you are seeking appropriate support that won't just exchange one problem - your sky-high cortisol levels - for another problem - migraines and potential dependency.
I assume you're already practising conscientious self-care? - diet, exercise, sleep hygiene, that kind of thing?
1) A high percentage of people get drowsy with anti-histamines. Here in OZ these are available OTC with names like Sleeprite and Restavit. They only work for 3 or 4 nights – the body gets accustomed to them – but they can help to break a cycle. And with luck they can give you at least one decent night’s sleep.
2) Tranquillisers are meds for relaxation – valium is the old one. They are different from depression, anxiety and actual sleeping tablets, and might not upset the migraine. They are highly addictive, I don’t take more than 3 nights in a row.
3) There are various things that can put you back to sleep after that first hour that comes naturally. Amazingly, even Tylenol will often work for me and also for my DH who also has migraine issues - I can't understand this, as it does nothing for actual pain. Getting up and reading for a while can break the cycle. Then go back to bed and think about the story you’ve just read. There are old prayer books designed for the midnight hour, between 2 sleeps. Masturbation can help too. Stroking helps my DH; we can’t work out if it’s blood flow, but it has worked better for morning migraine than 40 years of neuro specialists. DH hasn’t yet had the courage to tell to his GP about it!
4) I find that I can go back to sleep around 3am if I get an extra quilt layer. I don’t actually feel cold, but warmer seems to help. People are now talking about weighted coverlets, but I haven’t tried them.
5) I assume that you have brains, but be careful. Alcohol is one of the oldest medications the human race has ever known. It can send you to sleep, but too much wakes you up in the middle of the night. Try it, and watch yourself!
6) Time is of course the great healer. To let it work, you need to control your thoughts to avoid reliving all the bad things that have happened. I find that telling myself stories from books works better than counting sheep. (By the way, our farm runs sheep, and counting sheep is actually a pain in the neck - my advice is to stick to Mills and Boon)
Lots of love, Margaret
I have had recurring dreams that my LO is still alive....I get a call that she is alive and she is there alive, but very ill and I keep saying this is a dream, I know she is dead, but it’s so real I have to pinch myself...and I wake up. I ALSO dream that I go to Assisted Living facilities and other deceased people are still alive. It’s quite bizarre.
With your migraines, I’d get a second opinion. Have you tried Botox injections? I’ve read they can be very effective as a treatment. I’d inquire about the options. As well as options for your anxiety.
I have faith that things will get better and that by summer I’ll be able to have her celebration of life gathering and focus on good memories.
Tell your brother to cut the crap immediately. He can either develop some empathy for you or stop adding to your problems bc the last thing you need is someone close to you trivializing your pain or making fun of it, for crying out loud. How utterly insensitive. Now is the time to eliminate ALL the extra stress in your life, wherever it's coming from.
And time to find a doctor who understands how to treat a patient who suffers from migraines AND from PTSD or anxiety at the same time. It can be done. I take a low dose of Topomax for migraines and it works miraculously well.......have not had a migraine or an aura in years now, knock wood.
My condolences on your loss. And my best wishes for you to find an answer to your issues and resolve them quickly.
My experiences are similar to those of others; I had brain fog for 2 years after my father died. Making major decisions were difficult if not impossible. A friend of mine had a similar experience while working full time and going to law school 4 nights a week, for years after having done the same thing for her undergrad degree. She said she "met myself coming and going." I said I felt as if I was a particle in a superconducting super collider -all jumbled up.
I highly recommend using supplements for your types of physical struggles. Taking magnesium, which like 80% of Americans are deficient in, with zinc about 30 minutes before bed can help you sleep. They help our bodies naturally produce melatonin. Magnesium is also really great for nerves, it is a vital nutrient that helped me with my migraines when I started taking it daily. So, less migraines and not as severe, better sleep and soothed nerves with immune boost, can't help but benefit from just those 2 supplements.
Losing a parent that you have been caring for is a trauma, it is normal to have some issues surface. You just want to be careful not to accept that you will always be where you are now. It will get better, you will stop feeling like a lost orphan and you will start feeling stronger, keep pursuing your balance in your new position in life.
I lost my dad at the end of December and it is taking me time to grieve and come to terms with the loss, which felt very sudden because he was in the hospital for heart surgery, was preparing to go home, contracted covid and died. Not something that you can ever prepare your heart for, even when they are gone in dementia, it is still one of the biggest losses we face in our lives.
You will get through this. Great big warm hug!
good luck & hugs 🤗
Clearly you are suffering from anxiety and the only good thing here is that you recognize it. Did I have it. OMG, YOU BET.
As the late 70s year old sister of my brother, early 80s, I was SUDDENLY having to step in as his Trustee of Trust and POA for Health and Financial. I had never done any of this before and was completely unfamiliar with any of it. I swear our entire family has control issues bordering on a bit of OCD and Anxiety for certain when any little thing isn't in perfect control.
The first year was a nightmare for me. I would wake (normally a great sleeper) and worry about all the stuff that needed doing.)
My brother died last May so then it was, after finally getting all bill paying, record keeping, accounts fixed for POA I had to turn around and do the Trust of a now irrevocable Trust and Estate work. I just wound it up with the taxes a Month or so ago. It is done and the relief is immense.
I can only tell you it will get done.
And once there is a death, there honestly is no hurry. I recommend a Lawyer who is sympathetic. I needed little help but would have paid 10 times what I did pay for the wonderful support of the woman who helped me.
I sure wish you the best, and WOW, can I ever empathize. As to that bro, who has nothing but to tell you you are paranoid, let's have him help with work a bit if you can find some so that he has less time to criticize you, hee hee.
I sure wish you the best.