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Helping my mom and saving my parent's marriage
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An_246495 posted:
My mother has suffered with chronic stomach pain for over 6 years now due to scar tissue resulting from multiple abdomen surgeries. The pain has left her unable to work or join any groups for fear that she will be unable to fulfill her commitments. Her days are spent almost entirely on the couch either sleeping or watching TV. When she can she might clean around the house or drive down the street to see her parents but most of the time there is little to fill her days.

The pain and resulting limitations keeping her trapped at home have caused her to have a lot of depression, despite being on depression meds. I think getting out of the house would help but I don't know what she can do. The last few groups she joined ended up adding to the depression because she often had to call in and cancel a meeting and she felt that she was letting the other members down. I looked for a chronic pain support group nearby but the closest one was over 3 hours aways.

To make matters worse the depression and the pain have made her into a different person and six years of this has put a real strain on my parents marriage. My father tries to understand but he feels like she has become an entirely different woman and they both feel as though the other is ignoring them and doesn't understand their position. He spends a lot of time out of the house to escape the heavy atmosphere and she is always either in her room or, when she is out on the couch, asleep during the day. I honestly have no idea what to do anymore and though I don't think my parents would divorce it feels a lot like they are separated even when they are together.

I'd like to know how all of you deal with similar problems and if you have any suggestions for how to get my old mom back and maybe help to save their failing marriage. Neither particularly want to involve me in their marital problems but since I've returned home after graduating last may it's impossible to miss how bad things have really gotten. I don't know if I should try talking to them either separately or together, where to begin or even if it wouldn't make things worse. I really believe that if my mom could beat the depression and learn to cope with her pain better we could start to move forward. I'd like for my dad to be better able to understand what she's going through and how she feels as well. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your help.

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Should I try to talk to my parents about the problems they are facing?
  • Talk to them individually.
  • Talk to them together.
  • Don't get involved at all.
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caspertab responded:
What about suggesting her volunteering? I have chronic pain and find volunteering to be very rewarding and bring happiness in my life. I volunteer at a school; a Senior Center, an animal shelter and the Epilepsy Association. Agencies especially with today's economy depend on volunteers since their staff is so low. A volunteer can say when they want to volunteer and for how long. Maybe if she tried the first time just a short amount of time and gradually work up to a little longer. We all need a purpose to our lives and if she can make that first step,she will find enjoyment and the family will notice a great improvement. If you enter your zip code on the AARP web site for volunteering, they will give you places to select from close to your house. Good luck.
 
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annette030 replied to caspertab's response:
Ditto!! I totally agree with caspertab on this one. When I could no longer volunteer for as long as I wished, I changed to a hour a week at our local animal shelter taking dogs who were in the adoption kennel outside to go potty. Some weeks I am so sure I won't make it, but it is only for a short time, and I do it anyway. They adore us, both the dogs and the paid staff!!!

Your mom might be able to call other shut ins from her home and check on them once a day on the phone. A parish nurse once told me about that. That is always a good way to get started in volunteering. My community has a line you can call and sign up for one time opportunities or once a month-week-day. Whatever your time allows for.

As long as she is honest about her abilities she should do fine.

Take care, Annette
 
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An_246419 replied to annette030's response:
To annette030 I assume you had the poll about talking to parents? I am a retired social worker and have done a lot of couseling of couples. Since I did not see your problem, I do not know what you are talking to them about, but my past experience would be to do both. Talk individually first to find out what each thinks and then both together. Many times a person will say something to you individually that they will not say in front of a significant other. Once you know how they feel then together you can bring up things and help the shyer one express their feeling, without saying that it was them saying it.
Of course if you know them and you think getting involved will turn one or both against you then maybe it is best not to get too involved and wait to help support them emotionally when things get bad? Each situation is different and you have to use your own judgement. Good luck.
 
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annette030 replied to An_246419's response:
Great advice, but it wasn't my poll. I only agreed about the volunteering.

Take care, Annette


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