I’ve recently seen a primary care doctor for the first time in about a decade. He was clearly unhappy that I hadn’t seen anyone for any kind of checkup since my son was born over eight years ago. Here is my explanation.
Caregiver Syndrome or Caregiver Burnout. My husband has a serious mental illness and I’m trying to raise our child, homeschool him no less. I have many of the symptoms. One of them is spending more time coordinating the other person’s appointments than your own. Guilty. Really highly totally guilty.
Something that this country (maybe others, but I haven’t looked) has started to do well is to offer respite care for elderly folks in need of care. Nursing homes will take on a temporary resident so that the family can go away on vacation. Adult day cares are popping up so that adult children can work and live with their parents. Or they can have a day off to take care of their own appointments.
What we lack in America is such programming for adults with mental illnesses. Single adults may qualify for a permanent group home type situation. But what of us spouses who remain married to mentally ill men and women who need regular care? What of parents of mentally ill adults who have chosen to allow their children to remain at home? I’m sure there are others too.
My husband is currently willing to take his meds and take care of himself. But he is completely scatter brained and often forgets. Daily pill reminders. Daily reminders to do his part of the housekeeping. Daily checks of the schedule to make sure he doesn’t miss an appointment with one of four doctors. Daily scrutiny of behavior for symptoms flaring up. It never ends.
So I neglect myself. I overeat junk food to sooth my stress. I only get a break when he is in bad enough shape to warrant a hospital stay. I don’t wish that upon him. Even that though isn’t total freedom for me. There are calls and visits to the hospital. Childcare arrangements need to be made because young children aren’t welcomed in such facilities and visiting hours are strict and never at a convenient time.
Is there a point other than to say this life is hard? I don’t know. I often simply wish that there were respite care for people in my situation. I want someone else to take the load once in a while so that I can rest. I’m absolutely sure it would make a positive difference in my life, thus in our relationship.