*The word Son and Dad are capitalized in place of names to protect privacy.*
Some people know the back story that I am about to say so if you know this back story, feel free to skip. I feel the need to tell you a deeply personal story because this is something that I didn’t expect to happen. It seriously caught me off guard.
The back story involves a kid who I think of as another son and his dad. Son was taking care of his grandmother and Dad at the same time, alone. Grandmother passed a few months ago and was the soul caregiver for Dad after something with paperwork happened and insurance was cancelled. Dad has a few conditions that cause severe pain and his joints have become frozen and bed bound. Because of pain, Dad would not allow to be turned. This went on for months. And I mean months. Because lack of insurance, Son lost his help from caregiving agencies. Son became extremely overwhelmed with taking care of Dad. Over a period of months, I could see Son was drowning in caregiver overload. His last visit, I could read in between the lines. He was begging for help. He said his cousin was going to call Adult Protective Services (APS) but I had the feeling it wasn’t going to happen. I made the decision to make that call and get Son and Dad help. Son was so overwhelmed with what needed to be done, he just shut down. They have help, Dad is getting treated for infected bed sores and Son is getting much needed relief.
So now my story. Me helping Son brought up some suppressed memories of me being in caregiver overload and everything about my mom that she went through. On the day everything came rushing back, hubby and I had an argument that went way south real quick and over something very minor. Well, after we both took time to cool down, I told hubby that with helping Son, it brought back everything from mom and I crumbled. I had a massive massive breakdown. I was hyperventilating and coughing from dry heaves and barely able to say what I was feeling. But what came out even surprised me. I don’t see my mom in the house anymore. There are pictures and a few things of hers, but it looks like dad has erased her almost completely from the house. Dad won’t talk about her, I can’t talk to him about her. I still can hear mom’s cries from pain and all of the pain from losing her just came up. The day I broke down was the hardest I have ever cried since mom got sick. Probably ever. I felt it coming, but I kept pushing it down and pushing it down because it was easier to and the energy that involved swallowing it was less than having the actual breakdown.
Everyone talks about PTSD with soldiers. But caregiving, its never talked about. Even the therapist I went to to try to get help for it swept it under the carpet. I said to her the first day I was there I was having issues with it. I thought I had written a post about PTSD in caregivers, but I guess I didn’t. Google PTSD caregiving, there are a few that come up, but the rest is for military. PTSD is real for caregivers. The screams from mom being in pain when turned still to this day I hear. Caregivers don’t give just a few days, its day in, day out, 24/7/365 for sometimes years. It will literally imprint on you. I should have gone to a different therapist to deal with it, but I didn’t. Should I go back.. yes. Will I… honestly.. probably not. I don’t want to be put on meds. I am coming up on 2 years on losing mom. 1 year on losing mom in law. What I can do, not hold it in anymore. Holding in your feelings is the worst thing you can do. Things will build and build, and just like a volcano, the eruption is massive and it won’t stop till the pressure runs out. That was me. The rest of that night I cried, the next day was on and off tears. Its been a few days, I feel better. I know that I have an amazing husband and son who understand why I have these days.
It wasn’t just me helping Son get help for his dad. It wasn’t just the argument hubby and I had. I have other personal things going on and that was just the straw that broke the camels back. It was not just one single thing for me.
What PTSD looks like for me.. being in constant fear that after a great day, something bad is going to happen. Its being on edge when your last parents isn’t doing well. Its sometimes wishing that your mom would come to your dad saying its time to go home and go in his sleep because he is so tired. Not just physically either. (This one really gets me on bad days, and no, I don’t want dad to go anytime soon.) Its the flashbacks of seeing mom in pain. Its the sudden feeling of being alone in a full room. I don’t know how else to explain it for me. I can’t explain how it will be for you, but I am sure it will be something like this.
I hope this helps someone. It was scary for me. I never expected to have this happen. You are not alone in this.