After Taking Care of His Sick Mother for Eight Years, He Needs to Let Himself Live Again
Hey there big guy. How’s you?
Well, I figured that I should finally tighten up my belt and finally ask you for some advice.
I guess to give a brief description of the present situation. My mom has been extremely sick now for about 8 years, I have graduated from college this year and have a job.
Right around my birthday 8 years ago (I was about 16 at the time). My mom became gravely ill. At the time I believed it to only last a few weeks; weeks turned to months and months turned to years. I was home schooled since 6th grade so I was pretty much isolated except for my friends next door. For my last year of high school I was at a small Christian school and everyone pretty much isolated me there as the weirdo. Once college started I lost a really great friend, and over the years, I increasingly became tired and lonely. I had some romance but it was sadly short lived and nothing sexual. A couple dates during college mostly. My mom reached the peak of her illness when I was in my sophomore year of college when she tried to commit suicide several times and she almost died by her illness alone. I would get about 3 hours of sleep at night during that time when she would stay awake screaming in agony.
Now I've graduated and sadly still living with my parents. trying to save money. Right now I'm really trying to create a life for myself. Trying to find a relationship, I've experimented with being bisexual, but I simply could not commit myself to anything of that sort. Personally I think I'm just desperate for some loving contact. I don't really admit it but I loved it a lot. And it shocked me in a bad way.
I feel that I completely missed things that I could have been. Many of my friends seem to be successfully forming lives; they have nice memories through their teen years and college. I had to be a "hospice nurse for that time." I still go back and think of everything that happened, everything that I feel I have missed and I feel like I can't build anything. I like my job but when I get home, it’s back to work, seeing my mom again and such. I never realized that it would affect me so much. I thought by this time I would be just so hardened by it all and I would just brush it off as if it were nothing. I used to be a strong Christian, but now my faith is all but gone. I really want to try and become a great furry artist, but now I can barely finish any paintings and my skills continue to not improve. I want to put this all behind me, and become a new person. All I see myself as is that weirdo isolated freak... People imply it anyway. I just don't know how to take that first step, be an awesome new person that I feel is deep deep inside me, there is just so little hope left; it’s all been drained...
Can this not be published, I feel like this is really personal, I don't mention a lot to people how I feel. I keep it bottled inside. Sorry if it is extremely long lol and I think I made it one question lol.
That Odd Wolf
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Dear Odd Wolf,
I'm sorry for this very sad tale. Could you help me a bit and explain to me what your mother's illness is?
Thank you for having the courage to write. I will ask you just once if you could have a little more courage to let me publish this letter and my reply on the website. No names or places will be used. With those out of the picture, I don't think anyone will know it's you. If you do not agree, we'll just keep it between us, but a big part of this column is helping others who may have similar situations to yours. There may be a number of people who have had to deal with something like this that you can help. Again, I understand if you don't wish me to publish it and I will honor your wishes.
Also, about your mother's illness, is it a condition that can't be treated by in-home care? There are more programs available to those of limited income to help with in-patient service, thanks to Obamacare. My husbear has benefited from such a service, for example.
Write back soon. If I hear from you tomorrow, I will reply by no later than tomorrow night.
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She had Lyme disease as well as a malaria like parasite, because of it I like to educate people on the disease and such but that's for another time. As far as I know it has been treated, but the after effects of the disease are still there...
As far as it goes, insurance companies will not help with these situations or the government especially. My dad does help out a ton, and hopefully we can rap this up, but like I said it's been 8 years idk how much damage the disease did on her brain. There just isn't enough research. I have a lot of science background in my profession, so I try to think of things that could help her. Same with my dad. We have seen countless doctors, she is seeing a new one soon for a surgical procedure hopefully it works. I think, that people need to be educated about this disease and how it destroys families, you can publish it. I thought it over.
Thanks for getting back to me quickly; thank you "lots of hugs."
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Dear Odd Wolf,
Again, I am sorry to hear about your mother. As you no doubt know by now (just writing this for the benefit of my readers), Lyme disease, in addition to causing fever, joint swelling, pain, and other symptoms, can attack the nervous system. This can lead to a wide array of psychological problems (most people don’t know about this, and I never heard it from reporters in Michigan, where Lyme disease, spread by ticks that feed of deer in the state, is a growing problem), including panic and anxiety attacks, mood swings, learning disabilities, and depression (hence, your mom’s suicide attempts). Not only that, but she also has malaria, a disease that can relapse through your entire life. You don’t specify, but if she had cerebral malaria, that could also contribute to behavioral and cognitive disorders.
I feel bad for your mother, but it’s not fair to you that her illness has affected you so profoundly. You can be supportive and loving to an ailing parent without it destroying your life, too.
My first advice to you, therefore, is to get out of the house. I know you’re staying there to save money, but the price you’re paying is more significant than money: it is your health and your sanity. Without those, you are no good to your mother or to yourself.
I admire your desire to become a new person, get a fresh start. To do so, you have to change the environment you’re in. You are 23 and employed, so you can do that. You have to start making a break from your past. Stop fretting about all the things you missed out on because you were nursing your mother. Stop carrying baggage about being a “weirdo” just because you got teased in school. Make a break. The past is in the past and you can’t do anything to change it, so why try? Not that I’m trying to sound like a song from “Frozen,” but you have to let it go. That’s very true, even if it is a quote from an animated film.
Now, I’m not suggesting you abandon your mother (or father), but you can’t live this life all the time. One sentence you wrote really struck me: “I like my job but when I get home, it’s back to work, seeing my mom again....” Helping your mom has become more work than work itself. Not a good thing. So, move out, but not so far away that you can’t help when needed.
Have a talk with your dad and tell him how you feel. You’ve already pretty much lost out on childhood, God forbid you lose out on the prime of your life, as well. It’s simply not fair to you. If you haven’t already, you and your father should investigate all in-home care options. I find it incredible that you say no government assistance is available, especially if you are low income. In Michigan, check out the Department of Community Health. Read about the Healthy Michigan Plan to get more information on your mother’s eligibility. You could also benefit from a visit to the Mental Health America website.
Back to you. I like your idea of starting fresh and also experimenting. It seems your experiment with bisexuality did not succeed, which would lead me to conclude you’re more comfortable being straight, which is certainly fine. You note some other areas that have been damaged in your life, including your religious life and your artistic life. These are things you should readdress in order to reassert your individuality from your mother.
Starting over is a good idea. I wrote about this last year in this letter. Sometimes ceremony can give you a whole new outlook on life. It gives you that feeling that you really are reborn.
To sum up: 1) Do whatever you can to get your mom the care she needs without you having to live in her house all the time; 2) assert your independence, even if it means struggling a bit more financially, and move out of the house; 3) put the past in the past, and put aside that self-blame and self-doubt that makes you think you’re a “weirdo”; stop putting negative labels on yourself; and 4) assert yourself as reborn and look toward your future. Don’t feel guilty about doing these things. You’re still thinking about your mother, but you should have the courage to look after yourself, too. Only then will you find relief and happiness.
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