We Care A Lot

Being a carer is hard work at times. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining. I do it through choice. But lately caring for Anne has become a whole lot harder. Her illnesses have gotten worse and she has become very depressed, frequently experiencing suicidal thoughts.

I can’t switch off from it. I’m receptive to her state of mind, and — believe me — when you’re prone to depression yourself it’s extremely stressful to feel the echoes of somebody else’s. It negatively affects my own emotional state and after a while, day after day, it builds up to the point at which I have to do my best to shut off. To lock myself away and wait for the overwhelming feelings to recede.

It is exhausting. I have found myself needing to take a break more and more often. And that is a cause of stress in itself because I feel guilty for failing to be there constantly. She relies on me, she needs my help, and I’m not always able to respond.

I’m aware that I’m not looking after myself as well as I would normally. I’m mostly subsisting on take-out food and candy. Things like washing are falling to a bare minimum. I’m becoming snappy far too often, my motivation is poor and I’m feeling low. Oh, and aspects of my gender dysphoria are increasingly intruding on my thoughts.

There is a feeling that I’m losing control, adrift and at the mercy of life’s currents. I know from past experience that this is a dangerous situation for me because it is a powerful trigger for self harm: cutting in my case. The thoughts and impulses are there, even as I write this. I sat for about an hour over the weekend holding a blade, just thinking about using it.

I haven’t yet because I do consider it something of a last resort. I’m just concerned that the time when I yield to my impulses is getting closer by the day: the time when I will regain the illusion of control over my life, at least for a while. The temptation is strong but so far my fear of falling into the cycle of dependency has stayed my hand.

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20 thoughts on “We Care A Lot

  1. I’m so sorry to hear things are so rough – for both of you. I sincerely hope you both find comfort even when you cannot find happiness. Anne is lucky to have someone so loving, and so self-aware. I’m sending you virtual hugs and well-wishes. ❤

  2. Oh, Alex, you and Anne are in my thoughts. I am sorry this is such a difficult time. Please know how much you touch people’s lives and that your positive presence makes a difference to the world. I am sending all my best thoughts. ❤

  3. Dear Alex, I hear you so loudly. I think about you often because it feels to me as if life permeates your every pore, and I know how that feels. When others are suffering, it feels as though you ARE them as you care, and THAT is over and above your own conflicting feelings with dysphoria. The latter I cannot relate to directly but I do have a terrible negative self-image which might count a little.
    But know this, you are SO WORTHY; for starters you are the kindest person I have ever bumped into, in real life and on paper. And as the Dalai Lama said: Kindness is my religion!
    I know that NO ONE can live life for me, and that only I can help myself when life is overwhelming; just so you cannot live Anne’s life! She HAS to help herself! Does that seem harsh? Maybe, but it was a truth I had to take on for myself too. PLEASE try not to feel guilty and above all take time for yourSELF even if it’s standing under a tree breathing DEEPLY often! (((((HUG)))))xxxxx

  4. I’ve been wondering how Anne was doing. This doesn’t sound good.

    I think one very important thing when you are caring for someone else is being able to care for yourself as well. And one thing that can help is find extra support. Support for you, support for her. Are there any organisations that support informal caregivers such as yourself? Here in the NL there is this organisation that gives information, tips, and provides a forum for people to talk with each other. I think they organize trips as well, to get out for a day.
    Is there any organisation that can take over certain aspects of your help? (although I suspect Anne doesn’t want outside help?) Or such silly things like having a cleaning person over once a week, so you don’t have to do that?

    I know it’s hard. My sister has always been very involved with the lives of our parents. When she was uberpregnant, our father was hospitalized. She felt she had to have our mother in her house, because mother can’t take care of herself (mental illness). With all the stress and things she had to do she went to pieces. But letting go was no option. It hurt her a lot, and it ruined the relationship she had with our mother.
    And it’s still difficult for her to keep a distance. But she knows she needs to, because it’s dangerous for her as well.

    No matter how terrible and guilty you might feel about it, you have to draw some boundaries and engage in serious self-care. If you fall apart, you can’t take care of her either!

    • Hi Petra. Anne has always been reluctant to accept outside help, but lately we have both been talking to her doctor and she is seeking help with managing some aspects of her illnesses. I’ve got to work at finding a balance between caring for her and for myself; as you rightly say if I break down then we’re both in trouble! Thank you xx

  5. Is there a way you can take a break? No guilt, you need to recharge so that you can be able to care for someone. Also, are you getting therapy? Is there someone you can ask for help caring for Anne – getting help to her is another way you can support her.

    • As I mentioned in a reply above we are looking into getting help for some aspects of Anne’s illnesses. Apart from that I figure it’s a matter of finding the balance between her needs and my own.

  6. Always thinking of you, Alex. I hope you’re alright and I hope you know how important you are. You have my support. I am sending love to you and Anne. ❤

  7. I know how one has no control over one’s feelings, non-situationed based depression and anxiety and other negative thoughts. Why is Asperger often combined with depression and anxiety? and those two seem to go hand in hand.

    perhaps getting a pet will help? it’s so soothing. or maybe you should talk to someone.

    if you can feel the other person’s depression as a echo, maybe it’s not just because you suffer from depression, but simply because you’re a more caring kind of person, just the right kind of person to be a care-taker.

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