I Am a Stressed-Out Family Caregiver: Meet Vickie Thomas-Marion

Denise
VickieThomas-Marion(Editor’s Note: We’re putting the spotlight on the stress involved in caring for a family member or friend and we’re sharing the stories of stressed-out family caregivers. Today, we introduce you to Vickie Thomas-Marion, who cares for her partner. You can connect with Vickie on her profile page: @worried. Our questions and her answers follow.)

Caregiving.com: Tell us about your stress.
Vickie: I have worries about partner's health and future. Sad because of loss of any kind of social life or enjoyable activities. Worries about finances and future finances. Worry that I can't do a good enough job or remain patient when needed. No support from family

Caregiving.com: What have you tried to minimize the stress? Tell us about agencies you've called, organizations you've contacted, individuals you've reached out to for help.
Vickie: In years past I have reached out to insurance company and social security about helping get sitters in so that I could maintain employment. That didn't work out so eventually I had to give up my job. With recent health issues, we spent 34 days in the hospital and rehabilitation facility and no one came to visit or give me a break. They all promised to do this and that but I got no help or support, other than being aggravated with 20 phone calls a day wanting updates. I got so tired of talking to people that I quit answering the phone and I didn't make any calls. Now we are at home and are two days into home health evaluations for OT, PT, speech therapy and nursing care. I'm at a point right now that I am not asking for help from individuals and dealing only with home health care.

Caregiving.com: How has your stress affected your family, your career and your health?
Vickie: I quit working in 2010 to become a full-time caregiver because she almost burned our house down twice. She wouldn't sleep for days on end which meant I could not sleep. She is diagnosed with bipolar, DID (Disassociated Identity Disorder OR Multiple Personalities) depression, PTSD and anxiety. She is diabetic, has high blood pressure, had a peritoneal shunt due to intercranial hypertension, multiple back surgeries. So she was already a mess and there was always something to manage and keep up with. Now with the aneurism, stroke and ARDS she can't be left alone at all. We live solely on her disability check. Before we were able to get married I got almost $200 in food stamps that really helped make the check go further. Since we got married we only qualify for $16 a month so I didn't renew my application. What's the point. I'm finding myself more and more depressed and short tempered. I don't always have the energy or ability to focus on the days tasks or what the therapists are saying. I am also diagnosed as bipolar on the depressed side but am unable medicated due to no insurance. Some days I don't know if I can go another day without running away .

Caregiving.com: What would help you most right now?
Vickie: Someone to help with sitting with her to allow me to get out and just go to the grocery store or pay a bill without driving like a nut to get there and back. Winning the lottery would take care of all my problems. We'd have enough money for bills, meds, food, car insurance, medical bills, copays, dog food, I could have insurance, I could go to the doctor, I could get meds, I could pay off car and the credit cards that we've been practically been living off of for a couple of months. Money and support!!!!

Caregiving.com: What resource has been most helpful to you?
Vickie: Only resources we've had to this point is home health.

Caregiving.com: What's it like to live with caregiving stress?
Vickie: It sucks!!!! Literally, it sucks the life out of you. I just want to hide my head and stay in bed. I don't want to have to cook or feed the dogs. I don't want to manage the money and bills. I don't want to do anything.

Caregiving.com: Briefly tell us about your caregiving situation.
Vickie: My partner and I have been together 27 years and were just married August 2015; we're a same sex couple. She has had health issues since 1996 but they were manageable. She had a psychotic break in 2006 causing a whole other dimension of caregiving that I had not experienced. I had helped care for her mother, father and aunt through their elder years up until death and nothing prepared me for multiple personalities and depression, bipolar, PTSD and anxiety. Our latest challenges are all physical health issues -- aneurism, stroke and ARDS.

(We’d love to feature your story–just complete our “I Am a Stressed-Out Family Caregiver” questionnaire. And, be sure to tell us how stressed you are in our simple survey.)

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