Pressure.

I already feel guilty writing this blog today. Yes, this week has been one from hell, but I know that people are going through worse. Our cousin, Bonnie, in Canada, is going through so much right now. The tumour in her liver is pushing on nerves, causing her the most excruciating pain. Pain I cannot begin to imagine. So, whilst I’m sitting here considering my next move. I’m aware that people face even bigger challenges. Cue the guilt. But I know Bonnie is always the first to say that everyone can have problems which test their own personal strength. She’s an inspiration. I feel so lucky to call her family xxxxx

So, as with my previous blogs, I use this cathartic process to voice my emotions, and hopefully help others going through a similar ordeal with their Parents.

Since Christmas, my Dad has begun to write a book. This has quickly become an obsession. Within the last 8 days, his energy levels have risen drastically. Post stroke fatigue is very much a thing of the past now. My Dad has lost 8 days of sleep, and sadly is now in the throes of mania. This is incredibly dangerous for anyone, especially an elderly person, post acute stroke. He has significant paranoia, paranoid that someone is breaking in to steal his manuscript and various other anxieties. In reality, my Dad is ripping the work up himself.

33 years ago, as I’ve said in an earlier blog, my Dad had a nervous breakdown when he was Headmaster of Bradninch school. The previous Head was forced to retire due to his age, and could not let his former school go. As an 11 year old child, much was kept from me. However, this week, my Dad’s been going over all the events of 33 years ago. It makes my blood boil hearing what my Dad went through. The previous Head just couldn’t let go and played hideous games, resulting in Dad having to take early retirement, following a 27 year career in Teaching. During this time of his breakdown, he had a manic episode, resulting in him being given a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. He has not had depression or mania for 33 years… Until now.

I started back at work on Monday. This was a massive deal, after not being at school since the end of the summer term. It was so lovely to see familiar, smiley faces. As I was driving there, I felt like a new kid about to start their first day of school. I work with such lovely people, with big hearts. It was good to be back in my familiar. However, I never imagined the tiredness I’d feel on my return. Probably exacerbated by the fact that I felt so torn. Knowing I needed to try and regain some sense of my own normality, whilst knowing my Parents’ life is anything but normal now. It was so lovely to see the children, I’ve missed many of the characters so much. Leaving my Parents and the fragility of their situation was a huge ask of myself. I can’t praise my Line Manager enough. She has so much empathy for my current situation. I’m so lucky to have such a good support from all the amazing team.

After work on Monday, I visited my Parents and my Dad was argumentative, irrational and erratic. It also transpired that he’d made many calls to people. So I spent the afternoon ringing people, such as Kings school, to apologise for his odd calls. This reached crisis point on Tuesday night. I had to get advice from a GP, who recommended I take Dad to hospital, my Dad refused, so we had to settle for giving him a sedative instead. On Wednesday morning, my boss sent me straight home. I had to get someone from the Mental Health Team to come and assess my Dad. He was really thorough and could see that all was not well. So a plan to alter his meds was put in place. Unfortunately, since then, things have become more erratic with Dad. Yesterday afternoon, I had to get someone from the Mental Health Team to visit again. As I was stood in my Parents’ hallway privately talking to the Practitioner, the tears came. I told him that these last 6 months had taken its toll on me and my own family. The words “Your Dad would have been admitted by now, if it wasn’t for you, Sophie” really got to me. I’m not a Social Worker. I’m not a trained Mental Health Practitioner. I’m just a daughter trying to keep her Parents safe. As he tried to compliment me on all I’ve done, I felt so despondent. The more you do, the more people expect, it just perpetuates the problem. He told me I’d saved a lot of people from tearing their hair out with my Parents’ vulnerable situation. What about me?? They’re the professionals. They’re paid a salary to deal with these situations. In the meantime, my own job had to be put on the back burner, and my Managers have had to be incredibly understanding.

When you’re a Carer, many things are put on the back burner. I feel like the worst friend, I have little time to see people and catch up on their lives. I feel like a crap wife, my Hubby has had to put up with so much during these last 6 months. I’m so consumed by my Parents’ vulnerabilities, that I’m distracted, and not the best Mum to my two amazing children. The last 6 months have had a detrimental effect on all aspects of my life. It’s very easy for people to sit in judgement, and say “let the services take over.” When you experience a situation like this, the reality hits that life just isn’t that simple. I’ve learnt the survival technique of taking one day at a time.

This afternoon, I have my Mum’s CT scan, which will hopefully lead to a formal diagnosis by the end of the week. After the scan, I will have to make a judgement call about my Dad. I know he needs admitting. He walked to town earlier this morning, in odd shoes, and banged on the Police Station door to report a burglary, it’s scary just how vulnerable both my Parents are right now.

If anyone reading this has encountered my Dad this week and heard about burglaries etc. Please know that he’s not a well man and not of sound mind right now.

Due to miscommunication ??? The enabling is down for me to sort. So I’ve got a Care Agency taking my Parents on from next week. But, firstly, I need to get help for my Dad. If any of this resonates with anyone reading it, I’m sending you love and respect. If you’re a Carer, please remember that your wellbeing is really important too xxxxxx

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2 thoughts on “Pressure.

  1. Oh dearest Soph, just when you think you can begin to see a way through the woods, back into the light, another set of problems appears. I was worried for you last week, going back to school, knowing how very tough it can be after a long break and especially when you have been through an emotional wringer. I was on the point of texting you when I read your blog yesterday and have had to wait til today (for a number of reasons) before I could reply.

    I am so sorry to read that your Dad is now experiencing manic episodes – I suppose this shouldn’t be all that surprising, given his earlier diagnosis and the damage to his brain from the stroke, but that makes everything so much more difficult for you now. I was heartened to read that school is being very understanding: I know that you wanted to get back to find your ‘other’ Soph and Hattie had said you would lose your identity if you became your parents’ full-time carer, but the trouble is, the reality has changed and so, inevitably, for the moment have you. Nothing will ever, ever stop you being you – the Soph that is the capable Mum, wife, enabler, colleague and friend is still there, as is the daft, whacky, wonderful Soph that is the best company anyone could ask for. Just because all that has been put on the back burner at the moment doesn’t mean it has gone. It will come back, but you will be changed as well as the same by this experience you’re going through. You’re riding out a very tough storm and (to continue the metaphor!), while your vessel is strong and well built, you still have to take action to ensure you don’t founder. And that means reaching out for help for yourself. You have been doing all the leg-work for the various agencies – you need to tell them that you can no longer do this without some immediate and effective support for yourself. The school should be able to refer you for 6 counselling sessions and your GP needs to get busy on your behalf, too. This may already be happening, I hope it is.

    You’re a tough and capable person, Soph, but that is partly why it is so difficult for you to deal with how you feel at the moment – you work at such a high level of capability that its a long way to fall when the wheels come off the wagon. Sometimes when you fall, you need a helping hand to get up. To go back to the earlier metaphor- you have a good crew with you in this storm and any one of them is capable of taking over the helm for a while while the skipper takes a break. Do not feel guilty, this is a waste of precious energy. The situation is what it is and, when the dust has settled, you will see that we’re all still standing.

    Love you lots, my dear friend – if love’s a buoyancy aid, you will never sink!! ❤❤❤xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    p.s. bits of news from this home front: we are both fine but I had sad news on Thursday that my last remaining aunt, aged 94, has died. She suffered a irreparable bleed on the brain and was in hospital only a few hours. I then spent 8 hours in our hospital on Thurs night/Fri morning while they investigated chest pain which had bothered me in the early hours – I didn’t need to be taken in really, but it was better to rule out any heart issue. The good news is that all is very well with my heart and my lungs are also clear so the pain may have been caused by a touch of pleurisy which I may be prone to, having had numerous chest infections over the years. I think it may have been precipitated by news of my aunt. I spent the rest of Friday catching up on sleep, as did Graham! He is also fine – we are still awaiting his second cataract op, hopefully soon. The Goddesses are delightful (except this morning, when they were using the bed as part of their race track at 7am!!) and Bella has fallen in love with a new, soft sleeping pad which is on the little chest behind our small sofa – Queen B has her throne!😻😻😻xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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    1. Oh Gini, I’m so sorry to hear the news about your Aunt. I know you visited her recently didn’t you. What sad news for you. Thursday night sounded traumatic for you both. So relieved to know that you’re ok xxxxxxxxxxxxx What a long, worrying night for you both. I’m glad to hear that you both spent Friday catching up on lost sleep.

      Thank you so much for your lovely words. I’m so lucky to have you in my life.

      Love you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx❤

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