Over the years I’ve had many people say to me how wonderful I am to look after my Ma. They are amazed I do so and I’ve even had people suggest that my life would be much easier if I just put her into care. If they knew me and my relationship with Ma, they would never suggest such a thing. Ma and I made a pact many years ago that we would cope for as long as we could until I couldn’t handle her physically or her mental state became unstable. I will always remember her caring for my Dad in his declining state. It was also suggested to her that she give up caring for him, but she did until his end.
Sometimes I yell and say horrible things; sometimes I just want to run away, just to have 24 hours of freedom where I don’t have to care for anybody else’s needs but my own. Sometimes, I’m hell on wheels, filled with so much anger and frustration that I could scream the house down. Sometimes I feel very much alone and the burden grinds me into the ground so that I feel like I can barely function.
Sometimes, the black dog comes to visit and accentuates every problem into an insurmountable obstacle. The black dog especially likes to visit on my birthday. My birthdays, especially the last few years, have been horrible. I usually take time off work for that reason. In the lead up to it I can feel myself spiraling downwards into a pit of deep despair. I start grinding my teeth, having headaches and my temper frays BIG TIME. I cry at the drop of a hat and just want to crawl into a corner and disappear. This year was especially bad. Ma’s mental state was especially challenging with her even forgetting my birthday on the day. Oh woe is me! At the time, I truly just wanted to go eat worms! As anyone who has suffered depression knows, once you climb down into your deep dark hole, it’s not so easy to climb out. Nothing penetrates your walls except negativity. I could have the nicest thing in the world happen to me and it simply wouldn’t penetrate. You can self talk all you like, the wall won’t come down until it’s ready. Luckily it did, but I did start to wonder whether I would ever feel happy again.
I look at other people’s lives and what they have to deal with and realise what I’m dealing with is pretty small in comparison. If everyone’s problems were placed in a pile, I’d probably still pick up the same ones.
At the end of the day, I’m just me. Trying to do the best I can; wanting to do better and feeling I fall short. Some call me a martyr, an angel, or a saint. I’m none of these. Ma is my ma, she gave me life, and made sacrifices to give me the life I have today. I’m grateful, but I also have an abounding love for her. I don’t do what I do for her out of duty. And when I get a glimpse of my old Ma and we laugh together, it makes it all worthwhile. Calling me wonderful, doesn’t make me feel good, it makes me think of my short comings.