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Feeling adrift

(110 Posts)
Luckygirl Sat 02-Nov-19 11:31:11

As many of you will know my OH went into a nursing home about 5 weeks ago.

I am finding this transition much harder than I had expected. I hate being at home on my own and rattling about in this place; but I also feel a bit adrift. Being OH's carer has been my role and my life's work for many years. I had expected to enjoy visiting him, but to feel a sense of relief as all the burdens lifted - endless medication administration, dealing with toilet issues, supporting hi m through bouts of severe anxiety, dealing with paranoia and hallucinations etc. etc. - and to be able to go out without having to make sure proper care was in place and all bases covered for his needs.

But......I just feel adrift and find it hard to knuckle down to all the things I should be doing, or even to be bothered to cook a meal.

Anyone else been in this situation?

Nonnie Sat 02-Nov-19 11:36:43

Sorry I haven't but wanted to respond anyway. I think any big change in life can be difficult but this must be the biggest change anyone ever has to face. You made a rational decision which has changed your life dramatically and will take a long time to deal with. Imo you are naturally depressed and must be kind to yourself. Please don't feel you 'ought' or 'should' do anything at the moment, just keep on keeping on. flowers

crazyH Sat 02-Nov-19 11:46:02

You have done a great job ! Now relax, do things that you've always wanted to do. Catch up with friends or simply just chill. If you don't feel like cooking, get yourself a take-away. But, don't let yourself get depressed. Your husband is well looked after, I'm sure.

kittylester Sat 02-Nov-19 11:46:46

Lucky, nothing like your experience but, after my mum went into a home, I found it very weird not to have to ring 3 times a day, cook for her freezer, take her appointments, do the thinking etc.

I thought I'd feel much more relaxed but it took ages to readjust. You did so much more so it is much more of an adjustment.

Take care! brew

fizzers Sat 02-Nov-19 11:46:46

Well it's a big and sudden life changer, you've been in the role of carer for years and it had become your way of life and occupied most of your time. It's a shock to the system to be faced with all this freedom.

Don't be hard on yourself, it takes time to adjust, 5 weeks is no time really. You will eventually get on track, it just takes time.

aggie Sat 02-Nov-19 11:50:51

At one point OH was in a care home for some time while the care package was organised . I found it so tiring and nerve jangling , between visiting and wondering how he was when I wasn’t there .
I used to love the odd day when I could cook something different for myself , but once I had only myself to cater for I lived on cereals and snacks .
The house was too big and too empty but I couldn’t be bothered cleaning , so I do know something of what you feel . It takes a while to work out a new routine , and your health problems don’t help .
You need to relax , but easier said than done , I hope you can still get to Choir and things , but do take things slowly xxx

GrannyGravy13 Sat 02-Nov-19 11:51:56

Luckygirl when our Mother made the decision along with the hospital to put our Step-Father into a care home (vascular dementia, along with hallucinations and periods of extreme anger) she felt just as you have described.

It will take time, please have patience and be kind to yourself.
Treat yourself to a pamper session, lunch with a friend or go to the cinema (I find going to the cinema on my own a liberating and "grown up" feeling). Even just relaxing at home with a good book or "catch up tv" is a luxury after being at another's beck and call for a long time.

dragonfly46 Sat 02-Nov-19 11:54:36

Lucky it is still very early days. It will take you a while to adjust but you will. Now the initial relief has worn off just take time for yourself. You have had a life changing experience and it is akin to grieving. Give yourself time and take each day as it comes.

MawB Sat 02-Nov-19 12:02:59

It did occur to me when everybody was congratulating you on getting your OH into such a good care home, that this was far from the end of the story and I think some others who have been in a similar situation might agree.
As with a bereavement, your life as it was, has been turned upside down yet again.
And just as a bereavement is rarely the “merciful release” well meaning friends say, trying to bring comfort, you now have a massive hole in our life.
5 weeks is nothing- your own health, physical and mental, may take months to recover.
It is hard to know how to use that time, the (hopefully) unbroken nights and the feeling when you are out, that you need to be at home.
I still (nearly 2 years on) feel the urge to ring Paw to tell him I have arrived when I travel anywhere, I still find it hard to realise and accept that another half hour or hour “out” before I go home makes no difference. The radio is on permanently as I find the silence hard too.
I lived on toast and peanut butter for weeks (now I regularly add in a tin of Heinz tomato soup) so no, you are not unusual.
The irony is that while I was a full time carer I used to envy those who could drop everything for a weekend (or even a day) away, but now that I can, I find it hard to leave the comfort of home.
Take it gently and think of it like a form of convalescence for you. You’ll get there. flowers

morethan2 Sat 02-Nov-19 12:07:09

There’s nothing I can add to dragonfly’s post but I just want to let you know that you are in my thoughts. Hold on tight Lucky things can only get better after such a heart rending difficult time.

Summerlove Sat 02-Nov-19 12:10:59

lucky, Your whole identity has been caring for your husband for such a long time, it’s not surprising that it’s taking a while to adjust to your new normal.
Right after he went into the facility, you were able to relax but now you have realize that this is the rest of your life. It’s completely normal to find yourself not feeling normal.

Please be kind to yourself and give it time. Each day you will find yourself feeling a little bit better.

Liz46 Sat 02-Nov-19 12:45:11

I think it is entirely understandable that you feel this way.

This may be a completely ridiculous thing for me to suggest but when I was living alone, I took in a lodger. It worked surprisingly well and the money could help a bit towards the home's fees.

rosecarmel Sat 02-Nov-19 13:00:03

Luckygirl, you're "moving" from war to peace which is why you feel "adrift"- It's very similar to what post-deployment feels like for military service persons-

Make a list each day of 6 simple requirements, for example eat, shower, get out of the house, connect with another human being, find one thing to smile about and sing-

Come up with a plan, for example make it your current life's work not to ruminate, catch yourself in the act, refocus-

Start designing your new life-

Develop it-

Launch it-

Check it for strengths and weaknesses -

Lather, rinse, repeat-

Keep adrift, don't sink-

Luckygirl Sat 02-Nov-19 17:59:48

Thank you so much for all the supportive posts - Gransnet really has been pivotal in keeping me sane over the last few months and years - so many thanks.

The irony is that while I was a full time carer I used to envy those who could drop everything for a weekend (or even a day) away, but now that I can, I find it hard to leave the comfort of home. - gosh Maw - I could have written those exact words!

The darker colder evenings are not helping; and I have had to take a policy decision that, in spite of my financial worries, I will have on as much heating as I need, as it is miserable wandering about a cold home.

I did give some thought to a lodger, but thought I should try and let the dust settle a bit first. I will consider whether there might be students who might be in need of accommodation.

Added to the feeling of being adrift is the constant nagging doubt as to whether I have done the right thing - the nurses and care staff are lovely, but sometimes I know instinctively what he needs (e.g. little things like how best to put his pillows) as I have done it for so long, but the carers do it a bit differently - I have to keep telling myself to stand back.

I am also a bit perturbed by the fact that he has a small pressure sore which is giving him pain. I worked very hard at home to avoid this. I am afraid I did interfere when I was visiting today and said they should dress it with micropore as every time they move him or take down his clothes it is giving him pain. The nurse on duty agreed with me luckily and she did it - he was much more comfortable when I left. The nurses seem to be guided by the district nurse who visits - I am puzzled as to why they, as equally qualified nurses, cannot make these decisions themselves - the nurse had been wanting to put a dressing on before I brought it up.

I have lit the stove and will curl up and get warm now. Thank you for all the advice.

Callistemon Sat 02-Nov-19 18:18:26

This must be akin to how some people feel when their children leave home - empty nesters.

Your life has been centred around your DH and his needs for quite a while and finding you are not the one carrying out his physical care must leave you feeling rather anxious when you see what needs to be done. It's good that the nurse was receptive to your suggestions.

I think many of us want to curl up in the warm especially when the weather has been as atrocious as it was today but perhaps joining some local day-time activities could help rather than venturing out on a cold, wet, windy evening.
Art can be very therapeutic, even if you are like me and not very good!

MawB Sat 02-Nov-19 18:24:02

Luckygirl just as I have heeded advice to make no major changes in my life for at least a year after Paw’s death I would counsel you to do the same.
And don’t stunt on your comforts either- what if it does cost a bit, better you should spend it on yourself than hand it over to SS!
And don’t feel guilty about doing nothing either - you have earned a bit of respite. [glowers]

MawB Sat 02-Nov-19 18:24:55

gringrin I meant flowers !!!

Callistemon Sat 02-Nov-19 18:27:02

Hygge sounds so appealing

Grammaretto Sat 02-Nov-19 19:40:59

Not much to add really to Maw's and others' posts but to say when we are full time carers we have a purpose, we are needed and suddenly someone else is doing that job, you are redundent.
Well not entirely but I'm sure you know what I mean.

A friend whose DH with dementia had eventually to go into residential care was very upset when she found him holding hands with another resident.
She didn't find it funny but rather a mixture of jealousy and.

I would try to give it more time and perhaps plan some days out with friends which don't involve him or even your DC . A change is as good as a rest.

BradfordLass72 Sun 03-Nov-19 05:56:28

I have not been through an identical situation to yours Luckygirl but I did once achieve a long-held dream to live in a place I truly loved.

So I expected to settle down immediately and enjoy my beautiful surroundings and the considerable freedom I had, especially when compared to the previous awful years.

But I didn't.

It's a little like someone coming out of the safety of jail and unable to appreciate their freedom. Their "normal" has just suffered a radical change.

Your pysche needs to adjust; your "normal" has radically changed and you need to learn how to live in a new normal.

There's no quick fix - feeling adrift is how it'll be for a while yet - but you will adjust and survive - you did before.

And there's an element of grieving here too, don't forget that bit.

Be kind to yourself, take it day to day. Put on your new normal every morning like a new coat and eventually it'll be an old, familiar and enjoyable coat. smile

travelsafar Sun 03-Nov-19 06:14:18

Maybe try to make a point of going out each day even if it is just to pick up a newspaper. Visit your DH, treat yourself to a luxury every now and then to tempt your appetite. If you are busy during the day then the evenings can be dealt with by catching up on stuff at home or just curling up with the tv, a book or some knitting/ crochet. I know nothing will take the place of having DH at home but maybe you need to establish routines for yourself now. Really hope you feel better soon. flowers

Urmstongran Sun 03-Nov-19 07:14:19

Hello Lucky I have no wise words to offer really. But I didn’t just want to read and retreat.

I hope as time passes you will feel less adrift and more ‘normal’ in your days.

Best wishes from me going forward. You sound a kind lady. x

cornergran Sun 03-Nov-19 07:30:32

Nothing to add to the wise advice lucky, you’re going through a huge transition and of course are adrift, why wouldn’t you be? So yes, put the heating on, be comfortable, just be as you are and allow yourself time. Sending love,

BlueSapphire Sun 03-Nov-19 08:01:18

Also nothing new to add to everyone else's excellent posts. Just take your time, get used to the new situation and treat yourself well and kindly. Have some little treats ready for when you are feeling low. You are so fortunate in finding such a lovely care home for your DH. Now you can have a bit of a rest.

Hert2Hart Sun 03-Nov-19 09:44:38

This is excellent advice ! I would add that Cortisol levels are very high in a stressed brain and when kept at a high level for a length of time this becomes the new normal. Carers are in this heightened state and the brain ( limbic area which includes emotion) may crave activity and search around for stimulation so as to regain this level. The rational brain may also interpret this as sadness, loss, grief, emptiness, etc in an attempt to understand what's happening. So it's very important to 'convalesce' and gradually bring the stress levels down to another new normal. On a practical level 'Cruse' and other similar agencies can be a great support.