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To ask for advice & strategies to cope with my life better?

(80 Posts)
Livingtothefull Wed 30-Mar-16 20:01:48

The following is my litany of problems:

My teenage DS has severe disabilities, both physical (wheelchair bound) and severe learning difficulties (he has a mental age of around 4) So DH and I are heavily preoccupied with his care, we have very little outside support except that which we pay for ourselves with Disability Living Allowance. With this support we fit his care around his attendance at special school and our full time jobs.

DS will be leaving school in the next few years so need to plan. We are in the process of applying for the new Personal Independence Payment (even the phraseology sets my teeth on edge - so now DS is supposed to 'aspire to independence' rather than merely 'living with disability'. It is a lengthy stressful process to reapply for what we thought was accepted to be a lifelong, life limiting condition. And I am desperately worried that at the end of it a reason may be found to withhold the benefit from him.

DH has found out that he is going to need fairly major surgery in the next few months. I am worried, not just about him, but about the logistics of caring for DS while DH is recovering.

This brings me to the specific question I have:

I am holding down a professional job in the meantime but I am getting worried about my ability to cope. Although the feedback I have received has all been positive and nobody has expressed concerns to me about the job I am doing. They are aware of my situation with DS and DH surgery and have been supportive, offered flexitime and to work from home etc.

But I can't get rid of this feeling that I am an 'imposter' and am not coping and it will only be a matter of time before I am found out. Every time I make a mistake I magnify it in my head, it doesn't help that I am exceptionally busy at the moment and so I am finding it hard to keep up, whenever somebody has to chase me for something I reproach myself, am paranoid that they are thinking that I am not doing a good job, are going to complain about me etc.

I have had bad experiences in workplaces in the past, and if I am honest I think I am traumatised by the issues we have had to deal with re DS. So these feelings are coloured by this - but I don't know how to get past them. I NEED to keep this job and for it to be a success. I am arranging to get counselling btw which may help; but this is taking a while to set up, & I need some strategies for dealing with this in the short term, can't go on like this!.

My question is: can anyone advise me on such strategies? Have some of you been in comparable situations in the past with multiple problems and stuff going on, and how did you keep a level head? How do I convince others (and myself) that I can cope and not let this fear get in my way? I need to find a way to turn off the fear spigot located in my head?

Sorry rather long & I hope all this makes sense!

GatherlyGal Wed 30-Mar-16 20:11:39

Sounds very hard. It sounds like your job is both adding to the stress but also quite a lifeline.
It can be hard not to let things affect your confidence when, in reality, they are not impacting your performance at work. Counselling will help I'm sure but in the meantime try to remember there are thoroughly incompetent people everywhere and that you, even under pressure, are doing a fabulous job.
Being tough on yourself for making mistakes is understandable in the circumstances but when you find yourself doing this try to give equal time to thinking about when you've done things right or been praised.
I realise it's easier said than done.

MohammedLover Wed 30-Mar-16 22:22:46

I would think that some Mindfulness might help. Living in the moment and only concerning yourself with today can save on fretting about things that might work out differently to how you thought. Just hang on in there knowing you have got through loads already and will probably manage pretty well all things considered.

thesandwich Wed 30-Mar-16 22:28:10

Try the headspace app for mindfulness. You have so much to handle. And treat yourself kindly. Good luck

Anomaly Thu 31-Mar-16 06:42:42

Well you've put my problems into perspective but I completely sympathise with how you feel. I've got lots going on at home and work is currently a nightmare.

I think you have to remember you are your harshest critic. I expect colleagues think you're doing a much better job than you feel like you're doing. Are you getting the support you need at work? I know they've offered flexible working etc but are you being expected to complete a reasonable amount of work or is it excessive? Don't feel under pressure to demonstrate how competent you are by doing more than you should.

You need to take care of yourself physically. So try and get enough sleep, stress makes sleep harder and you may find you're waking early if you're very stressed. I've found exercising has helped me get to sleep which is good. but you can find you're waking very early with head whirring and I've found actually making a few mental notes in my head helps me relax and drift back off.

Is there any additional support you can access temporarily to lighten your load? I've just got a cleaner, but you could also look at temporarily using ready meals to make day to day easier. Does your DH do his fair share? Have you talked to him about how you're feeling? Nothing wrong with telling people you're struggling although it can be very hard admitting it particularly as you sound very conscientious and as though you think you should be able to cope. I think given your son's complex problems you need to realise most people are not dealing with anything like what you are. Most people's experience of parenting is very intense for relatively few years by comparison you've had that intense level of parenting for more than a decade and unlike other people it isn't going to get easier. I can believe you feel traumatized, you're not being overly dramatic by saying this you're doing amazingly well managing everything that you are.

Do you have a mantra? I think sometimes having something to keep telling yourself can really help you keep going. I like the how do you eat an elephant one but you could have a more personal one.

Something I've started doing this year is to have a notebook. Its basically a continuous to do list. But when my head is frazzled I sit down with it and write everything I need to do for home and work on a fresh page. I then plan when it will get done and do what I can, often I share it with DH. It helps me to prioritise what actually must be done and it helps me feel in control.

You really do sound like you're doing an amazing job both at work and at home so be gentle with yourself.

Livingtothefull Sat 02-Apr-16 01:21:39

Thank you all so much for your responses…..will consider carefully everything you have recommended here. I need to cope better, my stress levels just feel overwhelming, I want to find a way to bring them down and just find a way to enjoy living.

So do you think that Mindfulness could help with that? Did it work for you?

I feel that I put so much into life and get so little back. I am not proud of feeling like this….it makes me feel resentful, which is not attractive to anyone.

thesandwich Sat 02-Apr-16 10:06:20

Hello. The mindfulness headspace app( use the free trial) is great for just calming the raging thoughts. I hear you about putting so much in for other people. I came across the idea of proper selfishness- putting yourself first at times to enable you to function. Small things work- flowers/ chocs etc. Caitlin Moran wrote about treating yourself like you treat a pet. Cherish and. Love yourself. It is very hard to get into but essential for living. Take care.

Livingtothefull Wed 06-Apr-16 07:21:12

Hi and many thanks to you all. I have bought a book on mindfulness and am reading it… could I get hold of the app the sandwich?

Feeling extremely stressed at the moment, work is so stressful & I have trouble coping,I have permanent butterflies in my stomach. I worry that any day now I am going to be called into an office and told they are not happy with me….although up till now feedback has been good I worry that this will change once they find out the truth about me. I have so many deadlines I fear I am not meeting, mistakes I have made.

I don't want to go on like this, my life absolutely requires me to be strong and I am just weak. I was up at 6am this morning as usual (unless DS wakes me earlier, waiting for DS carer to arrive so I can hand over then go to work. I said to DH this morning that I was finding things a struggle (I know yes, my timing was bad); his response: 'Well you wanted to take on this job'. I sulked at this so he went off to work complaining that I was 'in a foul mood'. I know there are the same pressures on him too; if I fail to cope it will be perceived as me letting him (& everyone else) down.

aliceinwanderland Wed 06-Apr-16 07:49:48

It sounds as though you have a

aliceinwanderland Wed 06-Apr-16 07:54:54

Sorry, typing fail!

It sounds as though all your stress is creating a very high level of anxiety. And that is not surprising. I agree with others about the mindfulness. You might also find some meditation helpful. If you have the time you might also want to read The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert.

thesandwich Wed 06-Apr-16 13:38:38

Hello living,
gives you the link to download from the app store.It sounds you could do with counselling-this may be of interest.
You do not have to be perfect.No one is.Do you have a sympathetic boss or mentor at work? Sounds like you could do with help prioritising your workload which may be unachievable. Make sure you understand what the priorities are. You are not weak. You have so many challenges. Good

Catanddogmake6 Wed 06-Apr-16 13:52:02

I would consider a short course of CBT. It's usually only a few sessions so you are not signing up for anything lengthy. Not sure whether you could get it on the NHS but if you can afford it worth looking into. I was very sceptical but it is a very productive way of looking at your issues (in your case stress and anxiety) and then looking at how to manage it. Sometimes it just helps to get all your concerns out and then work out how to manage those feelings. It also helps to be listened to and not have your feelings negated. Given your circumstances it is not in the least surprising you feel the way you do. What you need is to work out how you manage those feelings and look after yourself.

Livingtothefull Wed 06-Apr-16 19:50:50

Thank you all, I am following up on the advice & links. I get health insurance through work so could see if CBT might be covered Catanddog. The trouble with the NHS is that it seems to take months to organise!

I don't have a work mentor at present (haven't been in the job very long). My boss wants to have a 'catch up' meeting tomorrow, I am a little paranoid that he wants to discuss problems, that he is unhappy with me etc. I am feeling hypersensitive at present & can't help fearing the worst! my job is a standalone role so nobody has the same expertise, & am feeling rather isolated at the moment.

thesandwich Wed 06-Apr-16 20:12:57

If you are newish in the role no wonder you are finding it hard. Do raise the issues of priorities and also mentoring. And update on the home challenges too. There may be some training available? Certainly follow up cbt/ counselling via insurance. It is a sound business investment for the company in its asset- you!!
Please don't expect the worst tomorrow. Be upfront and state what you need. chocolate good luck

Livingtothefull Wed 06-Apr-16 20:42:38

Thanks thesandwich, I am hoping that tomorrow will go OK and am trying to have a nice evening with DS in the meantime…..fingers crossed will all go well!

Dragongirl10 Wed 06-Apr-16 20:59:30

There is a simple method of helping hour at a time..try using it alongside Mindfulness.

Basically you aim to discipline yourself to only think about what you have to do for the next hour, then after the hour,take a couple of minutes to clear those thoughts and set your target for the next hour, the benefit is huge once you can fully focus for an hour at a time.

It does help, good luck l think you are doing an amazing job under really difficult circumstances, and just having an understandable confidence crisis.

Also don't try and do everything perfectly sometimes just good enough is fine.

Livingtothefull Wed 06-Apr-16 22:45:02

Thank you Dragongirl10….that might work for me, it may help me to 'time manage' better! At the moment I am thinking about the list of tasks I have to take on & feel crushed by it, breaking it down an hour at a time could really help.

My day begins around 6am when I get DS up, toileted, dressed, breakfast cooked & spoon fed ready to hand over to his carer. Then I go to work, then come back and go through the process again in the evening. So it is a long day, I wake up every morning daunted by the mountain of tasks but I do them one at a time & somehow it all gets done.

Livingtothefull Wed 06-Apr-16 22:47:21

I feel guilty though because I was bathing my dear boy & got impatient with him, feel terrible about it now…..he splashed & soaked me and I really hate that. I had to ask DH to put him to bed as I felt I couldn't do any more.

Dragongirl10 Wed 06-Apr-16 23:00:43


You sound like a saint compared to most of us parents who get irritated several times a day, and thats with DCs that are not particularly challenging!

Please cut yourself some slack, just getting through your day is a major achievement, most couldn't do it each and every day.

I found Yoga got me through some very challenging times, a class once a week and doing the meditation for 10 mins, morning and evening was wonderful for getting my calm back, and my mind steady.Then breaking the day into hour chunks stops the feeling of being overwhelmed, l think the only long term way to manage ongoing stressful situations is to get control of your mind and thoughts.

Is there any brief periods of respite that you could do something you love be it swimming , walking or a quick lunch with friends? If you could carve out a couple of those times a week that would give you a welcome respite to look forward to.

aliceinwanderland Thu 07-Apr-16 00:50:58

Before your meeting at work and during it just keep repeating to yourself "it will be okay. I am doing the best I can. I will cope ". And take slow deep breaths. Nobody does a job perfectly and ime it is the high achievers who put themselves under the most pressure.

thesandwich Thu 07-Apr-16 17:16:32

How was today living?

lasttimeround Thu 07-Apr-16 17:42:28

Hi I'm sorry I haven't read the thread just your opening post. I'm in a similar situation but our child is younger. I noticed you didn't mention respite. Have you got a support package from your Local Authority as well as DLA? I guess that will need to be moved across to adult services too. What about transition - were we live much of the moving to adult services is managed with school.
Also maybe a local carers organisation can provide some support?

Otherwise in terms of work its just incredibly difficult. I haven't found a way to manage it all yet. I'm part time very flexible employer but still find it hard

lasttimeround Thu 07-Apr-16 17:45:26

Oh and be really proactive with your employer about managing the period when your h has surgery. That's is a defined period and you'll be stretched at home try to plan some leave, reduced work load.

MayhemandMadness Thu 07-Apr-16 18:00:47

Your local social services will be able to sort outsome respite for you. This could be with a family member if you feel happier with that. Direct payments can help to fund activities for your DS during the evenings or weekends. Will give you a little bit of time to either focus on your DH or catch up with jobs etc. Employers have to abide by The Carers Act, keep this in mind.

Confide in your boss, I appreciate that this might be hard but well worthwhile. Ask them to make you aware of any issues asap rather than your next meeting, this way things wont build up out of control. Be honest with yourself in terms of how much you have capacity for in work.

lasttimeround Fri 08-Apr-16 08:00:27

Mayhem put that better than me. I'm really wiped atm. But yes to carers act. I know it can feel a bit hollow but I think it's better to ask for concessions well in advance and then not need them than overpromise and end up not delivering. From your description sounds like you are very stressed and overwhelmed already. I don't think you can push past that by being more organised or disciplined. You need a bit more rest and they legally need to accommodate you.

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