Dad has cancer and depression, mom not willing to help (long)

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Creekey
New Member


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 5/27/2011 10:47 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello, I'm new here.  The reason I am here is because my dad has metatasised colon cancer to his liver. Unfortunately the liver tumor was found in a late stage of the disease, and is too large to operate on. It has been incredibly hard for me to find any local support groups for families, or even for cancer patients who don't have breast cancer. I would like to think that I don't need a support group for myself, but it just isn't true.
 
Ever since the doctors found the second tumor, everything has changed. He has lost a ton of weight, is always in lots of pain, he's sick a lot, and is severely depressed. The truth of the situation is, my mother would rather go on with life the way it was before he got so sick. She gets down on him a lot because she thinks he is feeling sorry for himself. I know better, as I have been depressed before and how uncontrollable it is.
 
about a month ago, I went on a family vacation with them. I thought it would be nice to spend time with them and hopefully have his mind taken off his situation. But the trip backfired. He was sick most of the time, and very sad. Being that I was spending a lot of time with him and my mother, I saw the way they interacted. My mother has no patience for him. Basically to me, it looked like she wanted him to stop crying and go out with her because it was ruining her fun.
 
Seeing this, I can relate because when I was depressed as a child, this is how she acted. She acted angry if you cried uncontrollably because she just doesn't - nor does she try to - understand. But I see the pain it makes my dad feel. He loves her very much and never wants to disappoint her. I could see him strain himself just to please her... For instance, he would wake up crying, then he would get an upset stomach and start throwing up. My mom would get mad because she thought he was throwing up because he didn't eat or something. So then, just to make her happy again, he would change his clothes, suck it up, and go out.
 
It was horrible. He had no one to help him during that trip, except me. Because I was the only one that has gone through depression. He even told me that he knows my mom doesn't understand. That she should read a book or something. But she isn't willing to. He told me some things that was very hard for me to hear, because I know that no matter how much I listened, the only person who could trully help him is my mother. I tried to make her understand for his sake but those conversations drive a wedge between her and I due to her complete lack of interest in helping.
 
I recommended my dad seeing someone, and my mom, but they just won't do it. Now that we are back from the vacation, I frequently wonder how he is doing. Every day he seems to get worse. I worry so much. Especially because now I realize the unfunctional dynamic of my parents. It can't be easy for him. He is always saying how he wished he would have called me when he was having a really hard time coping with his disease in the middle of the night. I know why he wishes, because my mom won't listen to him.
 
But all this makes it hard for us to all get along. I find I can't be around them together much any more because the way their relationship is, just brings me down. I get frustrated at my mom for being so selfish. I get sad because while I feel like I know alot about depression, I also at the same time don't know what I can do for my dad.
 
It is all just one great big mess. Maybe it isn't my business how their relationship is. But I know my dad needs support, and he can't get it from my mom, and he isn't trying to see a counselor. I feel immense pressure on my shoulders to be there for him, but I don't know how to listen to him without it bringing me down, damaging my relationship with my mother, and effecting my own family at home in a negative way. Because every time I help I leave feeling exhasuted, sad, and frustrated. My husband says it shouldn't be my responsibility to be my father's therapist, and that I should stop subjecting myself to the hurt it causes me. But I don't know what else to do.
 
 The thought has occured to me that maybe I need to put my foot down. Maybe I need to demand that they find and go to a counselor, therapist, or anyone more qualified than me before I resume spending any more time with them. But that feels cruel - he seems weak and I worry about how many weeks or months he has left.  Plus I work with them at their business every day, so not seeing them would be very difficult. I don't really think finances are keeping them from finding someone. This past weekend they bought a new truck.
 
And I'm sure people are going to sugguest that I tell them how I feel and how it is effecting me, but I have told them. They rarely take my advice or listen to what I have to say. I wrote them a long letter about how I felt. That changed nothing. Being that I am the only child,  I even had my husband try to back me up in telling them that they need to find a therapist, but that did nothing either. My mother kept up with her unsupportive behavior, my dad didn't find anyone to talk to, and so it left the situation the same, with only me to turn to.
 
Apart of me thinks that both my parents are in denial. That going to see someone would make it that much more serious, and they would actually have to deal with the seriousness of the situation emotionally. I say this because he has no interest in finding a support group or therapist. Also, he frequently doesn't tell the doctor about severely painful parts in his body, doesn't ask the doctor questions, etc. Plus, the truck I mentioned before is huge. My mom cannot even drive it. They got rid of the car she drove. It seems illogical to me that they would buy a vehicle so big that my dad has to drive my mom around in it every time she needs to go somewhere. I think about, "What about when he is so sick and can't drive my mom where she needs to go..." or, "What about if my mom is the person that needs to drive him to the hospital because he's too sick to drive. Whats going to happen then?"
 
It seems odd that I am just 23... I barely have my own life together. I'm trying to go back to college. Yet I feeled charged with the responsibility of fixing their problems because they won't do it themselves, or because they don't know what they are doing.
 
Anyway, I'm not sure if I am posting this in the right area, so please let me know if I need to move it or something. Any input you could give me would be appreciated, and I apologize for this being so long. Thank you very much in advance.

getting by
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 42438
   Posted 5/27/2011 11:17 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Creekey,

Welcome to the HealingWell Depression forum. I think you are right, your mom and dad both need counseling. But you can't force them to go. And I think that you are also right that they are both in denial. But you have to look after you. Don't feel guity if you can't help the situation. To be honest with you, when it comes down to the end of life situation, there will be hospice to help. They will do things for the family, bathe and dress your father if he can't. They will even help your mom. So don't worry about tomorrow. Just spend as much quality time with your dad as you can. I am sorry that your mom isn't being compassionate. I don't know if it is selfishness or denial. But I gaurentee she will regret it if she doesn't become more sympathetic. She could just be pushing him where she feels the need, but it looks a lot like denial on her part. Maybe she just can't face what is going on. I don't know. But regardless, it is sad to hear this.

I lost my first husband to lung cancer in 2000. It wasn't easy but I made it. We had been together for 23 years. I did have friends come together and I had hospice hslping me. Sometimes the help comes from where you least expect it. But it does come. Like I say, take one day at a time. Spend as much quality time with your father that you can. Even if it is just you and him and your mom isn't there. You probably need that time together. Maybe a drive to a lake or river. Sitting in the grass and talking. Anything that makes you happy.

I wish you the very best. Know that we are all here for you. And yes you posted in the right area. We are here for you.

Hugs, Karen
Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia


fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression, allergies

Creekey
New Member


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 5/27/2011 12:02 PM (GMT -6)   

Karen,

My deepest condolences on the loss of your husband. You had been with him for as many years as I am old. That is tough.

Thank you for responding and the warm welcome.

I think my mother has a few different problems. When I was living with them growing up, my mom always used to tell me how she wished she had never married my dad. How he had ruined her finances, how she just married him so he would stop bothering her. The only positive thing I ever heard her say is that she knew he would take care of her, and that she knew he would be a good father to me and thats why she married him. (You see, my biological father fled the state after my parents divorced.) My step dad has been such a great father, and that is why I don't refer to him as my "step" dad.

Anyway now that I recall her saying all those things perhaps she is uncaring because she thought he would take care of her. Not the other way around. And I have witnessed her behavior before. When I was a teenager I became very depressed and then later, bulimic/anorexic. When I would cry uncontrollably she would get angry and yell, and then leave. When I had the eating disorders, it was plainly no secret what was going on. Yet, she didn't try to help me once. She didn't even want to talk about it. 

I don't believe she did any of this maliciously, I just think she is impatient and only has enough room in her head to concern herself with her own emotional well-being. I think she is a very sad person, but she has built walls around any possible thing that could make her sad. Which includes helping others. Because sometimes, we all know this, sometimes when we are helping others it makes us sad for them. To her, helping others could quite possibly bring down the walls in her mind and cause an emotional breakdown. And she can't have that. That is why she acts selfishly. I think in her heart, she is a good person. She just can't cope with any hardship other than her own. 

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this, as you can see. I don't even blame her for it any more. But I still get frustrated, especially for my dad. Anyway thanks again for responding. It is nice to know that I can speak freely here.


getting by
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 42438
   Posted 5/27/2011 12:57 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Creeky,

You are handling this very well. And you are keeping a level head and have a good attitude. I admire that. Do you think that your mother will be able to handle being alone after your dad passes? Counseling would be so good for her right now, I can see why you would want her to go. Grief counseling is also very important. Though I didn't go, I did a lot of my grieving before hand. He was ill for a long time and wouldn't go to the doctor. I finally got him to start going, but it seemed like a few years later, they discovered the cancer. He had emphazema for a long time. And thank you for your condolences. It means a lot. I have since married, three years or so ago. I have a really good relationship with my husband. We are not only married, we are friends. That really helps. We spent this morning in the woods looking for morel mushrooms. It was fun.

Just remember to take this one day at a time. I say that a lot, but that is what always works for me. Deal with one thing at a time, on your time. Try to stay relaxed. Maybe practice some meditation. Or do some yoga. Or even just get out for a walk to clear your head. Your mother probably doesn't realize that there is a world beyond herself. And I don't think that it is maliscious either. I think it is just the way that she is. Which is unfortunate. I find that helping others makes me feel good about myself. I wish she could get that gratification in her life. Maybe in time she will. I think it is sad. But when he is gone, she will realize what she missed. It is too bad that it has to be that way. But in the meantime, you can do the best that you can. Continue what you are doing with spending time with him and being there for him when he needs you. If you can be. There might be times that you can't, but everything will be okay. Just keep being the wonderful person that you are. Things are going to be alright.

Hugs, Karen
Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia


fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression, allergies

Creekey
New Member


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 5/27/2011 2:44 PM (GMT -6)   
Karen,

Thank you very much. Sometimes it makes such a big difference when someone says that everything will be ok, I thank you for that, the reassurance is a comfort. I try to be as level and as realistic as possible, for the sake of myself, but also for those around me. Like my mom for instance, I have put some thought into what she will do after he passes. I have even asked her what she will do, but she has no clear plan. I wonder, because she is so very dependent on him. But knowing him and how much he adores her, I can't see him leaving her without some direction.

I think I need to work more on taking one day at a time as you suggested. Recently I started swimming every day and so far that is seeming to help a little. It is so good that you have found someone as trustworthy as a friend so spend your life with. I also think that is important. I am lucky to have that in my relationship as well... he has been a big help to me throughout my father's illness.

getting by
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 42438
   Posted 5/27/2011 3:02 PM (GMT -6)   
Creeky,

I am glad that I can bring you a small amount of comfort. It is really hard when we know that we are going to lose somebody. I had a lot of prayers and people helping me to move forward. And the end wasn't all that bad. I saw a peacefulness on his face that I never saw before. He looked younger than ever, like he was happy. There was a calmness there, and I felt at peace too. He was suffering no more and I do believe that he went to a better place.

My first husband was comforting to me, we talked about the situation. He was realistic about it, and made sure that I would be taken care of for awhile. I also have insurance from him that I will have for the rest of my life and a small pension. It doesn't go far, but the insurance sure does help.

I hope that your mom and dad have the tender moments like we had. It really made the transition a lot easier for both of us.

Take care, keep posting. We will try to help you as much as we can.

Hugs, Karen

PS I am so happy that you have someone special in your life that is there for you.
Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia


fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression, allergies
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