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How to get back on track

(43 Posts)
grannyactivist Wed 02-Aug-17 12:29:00

For the past few months I've been going through the mill a bit. There have been lots of problems to contend with: a new (initially very poorly) grandchild; close relatives with mental illness; fighting the benefits system on behalf of family members and clients of my homeless project; my mother and sister both very ill (ongoing) and a myriad of other disparate difficulties that go along with having a large and much loved family and several community roles working with needy people. Plus I've been a bit poorly myself.

Many of these difficulties are ongoing, but for now the crises are (almost) over and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yet I can't seem to shake off the weariness I feel. I'm normally a 'pollyanna' type - bubbling and bouncing from one thing to the next and now I'm feeling the weight of burdens that seem unresolvable.

For example:
*We've just had a young Tamil lad from Sri Lanka staying with us for a while. He has, literally, seen most of his family killed and has himself been tortured. He came here with nothing aged 16 and is now 18, going to college and making a life for himself. Our government is sending others back to almost certain torture and death in Sri Lanka; so I fear for this boy.
*Several relatives are suffering from mental illness. One, with extremely severe paranoid schizophrenia, has just had a PIP assessment and been told to sign on - he is incapable of working and his illness has consequently become worse. There is nothing more I can do to help and I'm afraid he may kill himself.
*Most of the homeless people I work with have harrowing back stories and yet are having to fight for a roof over their heads. The resources to help are constantly shrinking, the small local charities that would once have offered support have closed and the statutory support is so limited as to be almost useless.

I could go on and on; but the bottom line is that whilst I live in a warm and caring community it feels as though people on the margins are being constantly ground down - and I can only see things getting worse for them! I try to dwell on the positives, but right now I'm finding it hard and just can't seem to find that switch in my mind to get back to normal. Maybe I just need a holiday. confused
Sorry for the long post.

Imperfect27 Wed 02-Aug-17 12:42:06

Grannyactivist I am full of admiration for you. The list you gave - which I suspect in reality is longer - is all the explanation needed and nothing to apologise for in any way! I am not surprised you are 'tired' (I would be exhausted!)- any one of these things would be taxing if they were resolvable and sadly, you can see, many are not which adds to the sense of burden. And it is often the way that when pressure finally starts to lift that we find ourselves feeling particularly dinged.

I hope you are able to take a break / find some respite because it sounds as if you do need 'recharging'. We can only give so much and if we empty ourselves out we need someone / something to build us up too.

I hope you can be an 'activist' for yourself and do something that will be good for you. Maybe it would also be an idea to get a health check - if you are feeling constantly tired, there may be an underlying health reason - though just reading your list of giving out seems answer enough.

Take care xx

grannyactivist Wed 02-Aug-17 18:25:42

Thanks for your helpful response Imperfect - I think you're right about things catching up with me now that the immediate pressure has lifted. I feel as though I've been firefighting for a long time and now I'm not quite in the thick of it it's maybe catching up with me.

kittylester Wed 02-Aug-17 19:40:47

Hi ga, I've been wondering how things are.

I suspect you have got the equivalent of the cold dh always got at the start of the holidays. It's letting go or, in our family, 'letting it all hang out'!!

I think imperfect's' advice to just have a check up is sound!

I can't believe your mum - then again, I probably can. grin

grannyactivist Wed 02-Aug-17 20:37:34

I could write a book just on dealing with my mum Kitty, but you've been there yourself so you know how it goes!!! Add into the mix that there's a compensation claim in the pipeline for a fall mum had from a faulty stairlift (she broke her hip) and it gets even more complicated!

paddyann Wed 02-Aug-17 21:45:19

I've always been the go to person when family or friends are ill or anyone has problems.I usually cope very well even with the most difficult of situations.However afew years ago we had a really long rumn of bad luck , My mums death illness including my husbands heart attack ,both my AC had cheating partners and split from them a family member attempted suicide,a neighbour did some horrible things including sending social services or rather SCPCC to my door with the claim my GD was being neglected ...they saw instantly she wasn't..As usual I got through it all and supported everyone around me.Six months later it was a different story and I became very ill,reclusive ,cried constantly and often went to bed hoping I wouldn't wake up.Thankfully I had a fabulous doctor who helped me enormously,it still took more than two years to get me halfway to being my old self.DONT wait until you get to the stage I did before you ask for help ,get it now.The people in your life will have to fend for themselves for a wee while until you feel able to cope with all the troubles you have .Delegate to anyone who will help shoulder the load .I wish you well in getting back to "normal" whatever that is ,but do it now before you do yourself real harm

Luckygirl Wed 02-Aug-17 22:13:09

It is hard when surrounded by so much suffering in the world I know - but you have to make decisions as to the bits that you can help, and then put everything else out of your mind. It sounds so harsh I know, but you cannot be there for everyone; in the end, for me, family needs come first.

People on the margins are indeed ground down, but you cannot help them all, nor take every problem to your heart - or you will be ground down; and who is helped by that? - no-one.

Maybe it is time to set some priorities that include your well-being. Sometimes being the "go to" person gives others a let-out to do nothing.

Please give yourself some space to stand and stare - it sounds as though you really need it just now.

grannyactivist Wed 02-Aug-17 23:58:37

paddyann thank you for sharing your experience. Fortunately my Wonderful Man and I are both able to share the load and look out for each other and this has been a great help. We recognise that we need a break and are going on holiday soon.
Luckygirl it's mostly family stuff that we've been dealing with, but some of the difficulties we've faced within the family are also endemic in society.

I've been thinking about what I can shelve to free up a bit more time for myself and I decided to cut out my language classes (I'm the teacher btw) for the time being. I'd already made the decision not to take on any more students before September, but I've now contacted my current students and told them that although I'm happy to meet for coffee and a chat I won't be teaching again until further notice. I'm already feeling lighter!! smile

kittylester Thu 03-Aug-17 06:40:08

Good move ga!

Good post Lucky

harrigran Thu 03-Aug-17 07:46:39

Just to let you know I have been thinking about you ga. I think you are right to take a step back and give yourself some breathing space.

Luckygirl Thu 03-Aug-17 07:58:22

Pleased to hear you have done that ga - a step in the right direction.

As I said on another thread I have been getting one of my DDs to practice saying No; and to count to ten before saying "I will do that." She is wearing herself into the ground helping others. Also woven into her thinking is a sense of guilt at their well-being and comfortable situation and it makes her uncomfortable in the face of others who are less well-placed. I suspect that there is a hint of that in your situation ga. But giving too much of yourself gradually wears you down; and also people begin to have unrealistic expectations of you. Or maybe you have unrealistic expectations of yourself! grin

Cherrytree59 Thu 03-Aug-17 08:05:17

GA I have always followed your posts with great interest and admired your strength and generosity.
But now the time has come for you and your wonderful man to recharge your batteries before they wear out completely.
I am pleased that you have a much needed holiday coming up and you have managed to put your teaching on the back burner for now.

sunshine and flowers

downtoearth Thu 03-Aug-17 08:52:37

GA I am also the go to person..I understand completely how you get fuelled by the adrenaline to keep going once the situation eases you are burnt out, I had wondered how you where as I know you have had a spell of ill health, I have never forgotten how by PM your wonderful generous offer to help the young girl we where looking after.It would be easy to say let go of the reigns a little but when a lot of the problems are so close to home it isnt that easy, please try and look after yourself and your wonderful man..( I have one of those too ) put me and my whinging to shame flowers

grannyactivist Thu 03-Aug-17 12:12:34

Thank you all; I have to say that just having offloaded on here has been very helpful. smile
Today I would normally be up early walking my son's dog (son is ill - part of the story!!), but my husband took the dog to work with him so I could sleep in - it was bliss. Even the news this morning that my daughter has just been told she's being made redundant has been met with a calmness I couldn't have managed a few days ago. Now that I don't have lessons to prepare today I have time to have a nose around GN and then pop into town for a nice latte. grin

Synonymous Thu 03-Aug-17 12:28:47

GA I recognise all that you say so am glad you are taking a few steps back. Even offloading and talking about it on GN can show you what you need to do. You can only take your bucket to the well just so many times before the energy runs out and you also need to allow for refills to percolate through to replenish the well too. Hope you have a lovely holiday and very soon! flowers

Jaycee5 Fri 04-Aug-17 10:28:56

grannyactivist A very large percentage of PIP assessments have to be appealed and there is a large success rate for those appeals succeeding (which shows that the initial refusals are politically motivated).
Go to the Atos Miracles Facebook page and explain the situation, give a rough idea of where he is, and ask what help is available in that area. You have to first ask for a reconsideration in writing though.
My sister works with people with severe learning difficulties. Many are elderly and so they have carers in their 80s and even 90s. They advise the carers to treat an appeal as part of the process. These are people often with no language skills and who could not thread a needle or understand the concept of scissors. Mental illness is treated the same way (as are physical illnesses).
Your own mood is not surprising. You didn't become stressed overnight and you won't necessarily shred the stress overnight especially as not all the causes have been resolved. Be patient with yourself. I also think that PTSD can have different levels of severity and it is said often to be caused by the loading of a number of different problems onto someone over time. Sometimes these may not independently seem that great and when people try to discuss them they can seem trivial (which is not the problem here) but you may have some level of PTSD. Be kind to yourself.

Jaycee5 Fri 04-Aug-17 10:29:50

Shed the stress, not shred it.

mymadeupname Fri 04-Aug-17 10:34:52

Grannyactivist, apart from an overwhelming admiration and empathy, my immediate response on reading your story was 'this person writes beautifully'. I think you should write a book.

VIOLETTE Fri 04-Aug-17 10:46:28

Bon courage ! do try to look after yourself as well as all the others you are so kindly helping !

radicalnan Fri 04-Aug-17 11:10:13

Put yourself first for a change. I am sure you will find that a great many things do go on pretty well without you, I have been that 'go to' person and when I haven't been available, people have gone elsewhere for help and been absolutely fine.

Doing good stuff can be habit forming and like any other habit can take over and become an impediment to happiness.

A good holiday and lot more self care should see you right. I look at people I have helped and many of them are better off than I ever was now and don't spare me a second thought now they are on their feet.

Lona Fri 04-Aug-17 11:34:33

ga You've had lots of good advice on here, I hope you soon start to feel more relaxed and able to step back a little.
Ever since we came on GN you've been helping family and waifs and strays, you are such a kind person, now it's time to be kinder to yourself.

SussexGirl60 Fri 04-Aug-17 13:17:20

I agree with the above. It's essential to take some time out and do some things to help yourself. We always think it will be other people who get ill from stress and not ourselves. I'm here to remind you, that's not so. I thought I was invincible but am suffering the consequences now. There is often a long hard journey back from ill health...(if you're lucky)...better to not go there in the first place. All best wishes.

Caro1954 Fri 04-Aug-17 14:05:48

grannyactivist I haven't read all the posts so I'm sorry if I just repeat what others have said. You have been through so much and now you have (a little) time to catch your breath you are finding so much outside your own family to worry about. Please don't. Try to concentrate on you, for a change, and be good to yourself. You have done so much, and been there for so many. Time to take a break if you possibly can. Buy only frivolous magazines for a while and maybe don't watch the news. Not forever but just till you're feeling stronger. All the best. flowers

Iam64 Fri 04-Aug-17 14:51:26

I have been where you are granny activist and on reflection, I'm not surprised my health hit a downward spiral. Being the one who copes and keeps cheerful often works for a long time. People begin to see you as invincible, maybe because you think you are. Then, the accumulation of sadness, stress and inability to change a system that increasingly allows those with the least to have even less, catches up with us.
Good to see you have already taken steps to do slightly less. Can you not take on anything new and see how that feels.
Look after yourself, get plenty of rest and relaxation and give yourself a break x

lovebeigecardigans1955 Fri 04-Aug-17 16:19:20

You've got an awful lot on your plate GA so it's not surprising that you feel this way. Try to be kind to yourself - you can't save everyone in this badly broken world.