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Consumed with fear  
Started by Q
09 Dec 2014, 6:07 AM

Hello. I'm new here and so glad to have found this place. My mom is dying of cancer. She wanted to die at home so my brother quit his job to care for her & I try to help as much as I can after work and weekends. We have a very dysfunctional small family. My mom has many narcissistic qualities, but I know she loved us & did the best she could. She's very judgemental & difficult. Nothing and no one was ever good enough. No one can be trusted. My brother is the golden child & I'm the black sheep. They live together and have a very close, dependant relationship. She has no other family and not one friend. I have 1 close friend who I've exhausted with my constant despair over the last year. Even though my mom and I didn't have the best relationship, she's still my mom and I love her dearly. it was always engrained in us that we were to care for her if she became ill or when she got old. My brother is doing a great job caring for her, but I know they are both disappointed that I'm not doing more. I just can't quit working. It's not an option for me at all. And I'm beyond terrified, absolutely consumed with fear about the dying process. I also suffer from severe anxiety and depression. I can't focus, think, sleep. Nothing. The fear is paralyzing. I cry constantly every day. I'm guilt ridden. She is deteriorating so fast. She can't speak & has lost function of her right side. I feel awful and selfish for thinking it would be easier for both me and my brother if she was to pass in a hospice or hospital setting. I know it will traumatize me terribly if it happens with just us there. My brother is so un-healthily attached and dependant on her, and lives in that house. I worry about him going crazy & even being suicidal. I should be putting her first. What she wants and needs. She's the one dying and she wants to die at home. And she's scared too. I'm trembling just writing this and thinking about it. I'm just SO SO SCARED. 
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Reply by KathCull_admin
09 Dec 2014, 2:24 PM

Q, welcome to our community. I am glad you found us too. What a hard time for you and your family.

At the moment, I think you can use all the listeners and help you can get from people who understand sadness, grief and being scared. We're here 24/7. We listen and can offer a virtual shoulder. Sometimes just that can help to get from one moment to the next. 

You may find the article Stress and Distress helpful. As well, you may want to check out a thread one of our members, eKIM started  Coping With Stress - One Person's Viewpoint.

Do you have a healthcare professional you could talk to about your anxiety as well as your concerns about your brother?  

I know you posted late last night – hope you got some rest.

Hope to talk with you again soon.

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Reply by oldbat
09 Dec 2014, 5:35 PM

Hi Q,

I think that what you are experiencing are panic attacks - either sequential or one continuous one, so no wonder you are so terrified.  You mention anxiety and depression, which are a breeding ground for what you are experiencing.

I am so sorry that you have this to cope with, along with everything else.  Are you receiving any help for the anxiety and depression:  therapy, medication, etc.?  If so, do talk to your health carer and explain, exactly as you have here, just what is happening to you.  There IS help.  I know because I suffer from all three plagues.  Medication can help control the worst symptoms, and meditation is also invaluable here.  I find that exercise helps greatly, too.  Something as simple as a short walk can tone down those churning feelings along with the terror.  But you DO need help.  Please, please ask for it.

When my husband had his severe stroke, I spent the entire year in a major panic attack, which led to hospitalization.  That helped a lot, but the steps I've mentioned above could aid you in avoiding that.  

I am so sorry, too, to hear about your friend's exhaustion.  Maybe she could use a break and the two of you could walk or do some other mild exercise (swimming is good!) together.  This would benefit you both, and give you something to talk about beyond your current situation.  Sounds like you could both use that, and it could help restore the balance of your friendship.

Please don't take this as preaching.  I have lived your situation and understand just how excruiatingly painful and lonely it is.  I also know that whatever small steps you can take to help you feel better will benefit you, as well as both your mother and your brother, in unexpected and wonderful ways.

Above all, now that you have found us, do stay in touch.  We are all embarked on similar journeys and understand and empathize completely with yours.


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Reply by jorola
10 Dec 2014, 1:05 AM

Hi Q,

Sorry for you mom's illness and what you and your family are going through. Don't worry about being disfunctional. I think we all have some of that in us. We are human.

I understand about having to work but there are programs you might be able to access so you can have some time with her through Employment Canada. Even sick benefits if it becomes too much. I know - been there done that this year myself.

Regardless of that, trust you are doing what you can. Again you are human. As mucha s we all want to sometimes you are just able to do what you can do.

Take care and come back as often as need to vent, cry and yes we laugh here too. everyone is great here. DOn't know where i would be without them.

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Reply by Q
13 Dec 2014, 5:55 AM

Thank you all so very much for listening and for the support. I genuinely appreciate it. I have just gone back on anti-depressants & anti-anxiety medication. They are just starting to kind of work I think. i don't know. I'm still extremely consumed with sadness and fear about death. I'm so terrified of the dying process. We couldn't get her up to take her medicine today. For an hour we tried and she was completely un-responsive. She was still breathing but just wouldn't wake up. She can't talk at all and hasn't eaten in 3 days. We called the home health nurse and she managed to get her up. She talked to us about hospice and started the process. Before I left I hugged my mom goodbye and she started to cry and wouldn't let me go. It was gut wrenching. I'm home now and can't stop crying. My heart is shattered. I can't stand seeing her like this anymore it's just pure torture. 
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Reply by oldbat
13 Dec 2014, 3:23 PM

Hello Q,

What a terrifying experience for you.  You are so brave.  And I'm so glad to hear that hospice will be happening soon.  Also that you're on both antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds.  The latter usually work faster than the former, which can take some time to kick in.

How sad, but also how wonderful that when you hugged your Mom goodbye, she wouldn't let go.  Whatever  happened in the past, she's clearly loving you now.  And today is what we have.  Build on that, for yourself.  It will help to carry you through whatever you have to face down the road.  And, as you no doubt know, hospice can only be a good thing, for you both.  She will be so well cared for, and so will you.  Accept the care that's offered and concentrate on being with your Mom in an easier way.

And please, please allow yourself to recognize everything you have accomplished recently.  You are obviously strong and resilient.  You've proved it.  

Now, relax a little and keep in touch with us.  We care.

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Reply by JennJilks
14 Dec 2014, 2:05 PM

This is a terribly tough time, especially when others are critical of what you are or are not doing. I understand.

The worst thing I did was to quite my job. In hindsight, it cost me emotionally, financially, and I ended up on anti-depressants. My happy pills have saved me. I had fights with my older cousins, and they were hyper critical. 
You are not alone!
You are the only person who can decide what is best for you. Your family isn't thinking straight.
Do not fear death. It is usually peaceful.
As a hospice volunteer I try to educate my families as much as I can. You can reading about what to expect in the last days, hours, minutes.
I found that the PPS, while being an evaluation tool for end-of-life care for the professionals, helps us laypeople to understand what to expect. 
It sounds as if mom and bro. are angry, and fearful, and are taking it out on you. This is common, I've found, 'displaced anger.' Let it go. Stay in the present. Take your happy pills. /2 cents!
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Reply by NatR
14 Dec 2014, 4:26 PM

Dear Q,

welcome to a world of support - people who understand what you are going through.  we all care, we all have a personal experience with loss and grief.

you are getting good advice from the members.  Please know you are not alone.
sending you a cyber hug as you deal with each day...
glad you are taking medications to help you through this difficult time...it's an individual choice.  
Thinking of you as you take on this day...

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Reply by tuna
14 Dec 2014, 9:39 PM

Hi Q,
Glad you found this virtual community. You will get support and understanding here.
You are obviously a kind, caring and compassionate  daughter. Family ties are not always easy. I was raised in a very dysfunctional home, what you described I understand well.
My husband has stage 4b colon cancer, and is now bedridden. I have run the gamut of emotions. I can well imagine your feelings and mental state. Good for you for reaching out for support! Well done!
In the end, you have to live with yourself for a long time. You are wise to make decisions that take into account YOUR future.
Watching someone you love succumb to cancer is the worst. There is not a lot anyone can do when the patient is facing end of life. So, whatever you do will make a difference. Your brother and yourself have different life circumstances, living arrangements. Perhaps comparing what he appears to be able to do for your mom and what you are able to do is an unfair comparison. Feel good about what you can do. The "guilt road" is long and painful. Those who walk it never find satisfaction and find the journey painful, and find peace when they leave that road for good.
Hospice care is wonderful. The people from Hospice are professionals and will give the best help.
((hugs)) to you
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Reply by KathCull_admin
15 Dec 2014, 2:31 AM

I have been wondering how you are Q.  You said you were terrified of the dying process and I wasn’t sure if you find that more information helps or not. When Death is Near is an article written by Dr. Mike Harlos that many people have found helpful. 

Keep in touch as you can.

Take care

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