I am a positive person, I always have been.
I am a patient person, I always have been.
I am a caring person, I always have been.
I am a grounded person, I always have been.
I am a nurturing person, I always have been.
I am a polite & thoughtful person, I always have been.
This has all been tested again and again but, I feel like I have reached my finishing point. I grew up without a dad, I moved countries, I dealt with certain, far from the average, family members, we took care of my terminally ill uncle for two years, and now we are taking care of my grandmother who has dementia after a stroke. I have reached my fill. After this period, I don’t feel like these statements are true any longer. When she is raising her hand to slap me or when she actually slaps me. When she is screaming “shut up” or “get out” two inches from my face. When all I want to do is scream back at the top of my lungs until I scream so loud my voice is echoing forever in her head. But, I don’t mean it, I am just at my fill. Caring for my uncle was hard, I always said it was the hardest thing I have ever done but that was a fraction of what caring for my grandmother is. She was never easy (I can’t begin to explain the guilt I feel writing that sentence) but now it is worse. She cared for us alongside my mother and aunt my entire life and some will look at it as it is my turn to take care of her but I am here to yell at you, I can’t. Everyone keeps telling me another bit, another bit and things will get better but this is too difficult.
Some days she is so affectionate it is bizarre. Growing up she didn’t know how to show affection but now she will hold my hand or rest her head on my chest or ask for me or praise me. Then there are days like today where she wanted to clean the stove. Let me explain the stove is roasting hot about 15 minutes after lighting it, it was lighting for hours at this point. If you stand within two feet of it your clothes burn. It is designed to heat the old house I live in but I couldn’t explain that. No matter what I said I couldn’t get her to stop so, I physically stood in front of it and blocked her as passively as I could. She slapped me and pulled me and pushed me and screamed at me but I couldn’t get her to see I was doing it so she couldn’t get hurt.
Sometimes I wonder when she passes will she realise all this. Will she see that I was just trying to stop her from burning herself? Will she see that I only told her to be careful because she was really close to knocking the crystal off the shelf? Or will she see it as she sees it now, me belittling her.
The most guilt I feel is due to the fact I am moving country in about 8 weeks to then leave my sister, my brother, my aunt and my mother to deal with it. To be honest I can’t dwell on that.
It is hard when my core setting is positivity and that is now shrouded in negativity. I feel selfish and childish and temperamental as I can’t deal with it. I really struggle with the selfish part because of the Catholic guilt. I should help my grandmother and people have it worse than me and that nothing lasts forever. I just need a breather. I am not even minding her 24/7, that is my aunt. I think I am just not dealing as well as I could be but, I think that is because this happened 3 months after my uncle died. We didn’t have enough time to grieve.
A message to people who know carers of any disease:
Give the carer a break. Ring them and if they can’t talk ask when they can because caring is isolating. Don’t tell them it will pass, they already know that but it doesn’t help when you are in the middle of it. Keep them positive and keep yourself positive. Bring over sweets or a salad or a 7up whatever is the carer’s favourite. Don’t tell them you understand if you don’t, it is okay to not. We don’t expect you to. Just be here for us because we need you.