Coping with the next stage of life
As our parents age, we have to embrace taking on a new role in our families
Many of my recent blogs have focused on what I’m discovering about myself through my therapy journey, as well as my struggles and successes in parenting.
But there’s this other part of life happening, and that is my parents are aging.It’s hard to see it and accept it.
My mother has struggled with mental health issues since I was born. She has bipolar disorder and we have grown up being exposed to her manic episodes, as well as her depressive episodes. My father was diagnosed with PTSD from his time in the Army, specifically his time in Vietnam.
Neither of these diagnoses are easy for children to grow up around. I know because I see how my struggles with PTSD are impacting my children now. But I also know that having the parents that I have pushed me to get my bachelor’s degree in psychology, made me empathetic, and gave me the ability to shed extra grace on those in need. Sometimes to a fault.
We are now crossing into another stage of life, which is their struggles with aging. My dad, thankfully, is in pretty good physical health, but he also lives in California so I am limited in how I can help him. My mother has had a lot of physical health issues on top of her mental health struggles the last few years.
There is little balance there and it has caused some turmoil as we all grow and accept the process. We’re getting to a point where we have to discuss her not living alone (she’s still living in the house I grew up in) and while she is still living there, getting her assistance to accomplish daily tasks and keep up with household duties.
When our material life is in disarray, our mental health is often affected. I can only imagine what it feels like to have to lose some independence and freedom.
I am learning to take new approaches, as well as allowing the universe to yet again give me a new perspective. I try to approach all of this with compassion, but my mother, like me, is very stubborn. We often butt heads over the best course of action.
It is so strange how our roles develop and how we have to take the path paved for us. This is another time in my life that I need to stay present, ground myself and be mindful. And not lose my mind.
Lauren Martone is a blogger for ParentingNH from southern New Hampshire. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lauren and her family’s story were featured in the July 2015 issue of ParentingNH and in the July 2018 issue.