Thursday, July 11, 2013

To Guilt or Not to Guilt

Guilt is a funny thing.  It can eat you alive if you let it.  I have always had a problem with guilt.  Usually it is over something I really don’t have any control of, but yet I still feel guilty about it happening the way it did.  With putting Mother in a nursing home, I am still undecided if I should feel guilty or not.

Have you ever wondered just how selfish you really are?  Like most with MS and Crohn’s Disease, there are so many things I can no longer do, or at least do in an acceptable manner.  I have terrible guilt over these things even though it is not my fault. 

Per Psychology Today: “Guilt and its handmaiden, shame, can paralyze––or catalyze one into action. Appropriate guilt can function as social glue, spurring one to make reparations for wrongs. Excessive rumination about one's failures, however, is a surefire recipe for resentment and depression.”

I wonder how much of most MS patients depression comes from guilt.  Many of us feel guilt because we can no longer work, take care of our families, handle the daily functions of running a home, playing and other activies that most people accomplish with no problem.  Watching others do jobs that we can no longer do can often bring on a bout of depression.  I know that it has with me many times.  I watch my husband do household chores that I used to do and it really puts me into a sad, depressive mood.  I feel so ashamed that I can no longer do these things and it is an added burden on him to do.  Although he tells me over and over that he does not mind doing these things, it still hurts me that I cannot do them myself.

Coming to the conclusion that I could no longer handle caring for Mother has been a major trigger for a period of depression for me.  Most of the time she did not feel that she needed to go and it made it even harder for me to stick with this decision.  Deep in my heart I know it is for the best.  Her safety and daily care were not up to par in our opinion and a change had to be made.

So now I sit here with my guilt.  Ten years is a long time to have someone else control your life.  It  has been hard on both me and Howard.  I think it has probably been worse on Howard because he was “in control” at his workplace for over 36 years.  Giving in to a woman who wanted to dominate not only our everyday life but every aspect of our lives went against his grain totally.  Most men are  ingrained with the need to take care of their families and make decisions in their best interests.  He had to suppress this urge many times and I could see the strain it put on him.  Sometimes it would erupt out of him and he and Mother would have an “in-depth” discussion about it.

I know that some of my need for her to go to the nursing home was selfish.  Howard and I were really to the breaking point with wanting to run our own lives and being in control of what we do.  When you get our age it is not easy to let someone else tell you every little thing to do each day.  This was going to have to change before there was a big blow-up and things were said that were not really meant.

I also feel selfish/guilty about the fact, as I have mentioned, that I could no longer care for Mother the way she needed caring for.  She has become quite frail and dementia is setting in pretty quickly.  Since my brain cannot be relied on anymore to remember things and make valid decisions either, I felt she needed better care than I could give her.  She could not remember to take her medicine and do other normal activities of the day.  I often could not remember to get her to do these things either.

Physically I am not able to help hold her up and catch her when she stumbles.  This also was something that had to be considered in the decision to make sure she was better taken care of.

The list could go on and on, but this is the gist of why our decision was made.  I started this blog to get some of the thoughts running around in my head out and possibly offer some help, comfort and a little humor in other’s lives.  Today, I feel like I am writing a diary entry to get my emotions out and try to feel better.  I hope you don’t mind the rambling………..sometimes it really does help to share and get out things bottled up inside………..


Muffie said...

I had the same guilt in the beginning of my mother's placement. She, too, lived with us for ten years; however, she was very docile and made no demands. Unfortunately, her wandering became dangerous, and I needed to have her safe. Now, the guilt is gone because I see her every day being cared for in ways I could never do. Don't worry -- it will get better.

Webster said...

I can't speak from experience as my parents were able to live in their own home, with the aid of hospice and my brother, my niece and me, until they died. It was just as they wanted.

But, oh do I agree with your decision. You and Howard have done ten years of due diligence. It is time for you to enjoy what able-bodied time you still have left.