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Inner suburb confessional
I’ve been my mum’s carer since I was 15. But even before that, I remember late night emergency room visits, and feeling more pressured to take on household responsibilities.
My mum has mental health issues, and as of February this year, was technically medically dead. See, for the past 18 months before February, mum had been having increasingly worse respiratory problems, to the point where she could not walk around the corner to the bus unaided. I remember going to the doctor multiple times, and our concerns being brushed off with ‘you should just exercise more’.
Then, in mid-February, at 3.30 in the morning, she yelled for me. We went to the emergency room that night, and my mum went into cardiac arrest induced by respiratory failure. She was resuscitated in a way that would not have been possible had we not been in the hospital.
I remember shutting down, so overloaded with panic and fear that all that would help was when my mind went numb. Because of this hospital visit, we learned that mum had a saddle pulmonary embolism, and that her right lung was only receiving 10% oxygen, just enough to keep the tissue alive. I was angry. For eighteen months we had fought to have doctors take her seriously, and it took her medically dying for it to work.
And here’s the bit that is less palatable for me to admit to. I resent my mother for the weight she puts on me. I resent that she will not seek help as long as I am present. But… That doesn’t mean I want her to die. The relief when I saw her alive in the hospital bed in the ER was like a tension snapping. My bones felt like jelly, and the tears came flooding.
Now, we’re eight months later, and the improvement is remarkable after the use of medication. However, with improvement, has meant that the reasons I was so willing to accept her refusal to seek other help, are gone. I resent her some days, I might hate her. And maybe that’s not the right thing to say, but…the number of times she calls me for something that she is capable of, but apparently unwilling to, within a single day is… abrasive at best.
I love my mum, but I hate her some days too. And, I know for my sake that I need to seek help, or make alternative arrangements for her care. But I have to ask. Is it right of me to abandon her like that, even for the sake of my own mental health? I don’t know the answer.
I’ve been running the household since I was 15, and it’s always set me apart from people. There’s a big difference between worrying about friend groups, or upcoming tests, and the constant aching dread of worrying about ‘will this be the week I have to choose between food or bills’. There have been times where I felt like I was suffocating under the weight of the responsibilities on my shoulders. There have been times I’ve needed to run to the sanctuary of my friends across state, and had a panic attack on the way back home from the weight returning to it’s place on my shoulders.