New to the forum and advice on depression

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Dear All
My mother (77) had a stroke 10 weeks ago and has returned home for the last 4 weeks. I have looked through this forum and it has provided me with great comfort that things do and can get better. I am so glad I have found this forum as it does offer good sensible advice and support and it is a credit to all members.
My mother appears to have physically made a good recovery as she has not lost the ability to talk, walk, or look after herself. She has short term memory loss which she finds very frustrating. But she has had the support put in place to her requirements. She has a 3 (2hr at time) visits a day to help with bathing, meds and meals. Plus taking her out during the day for coffee and shopping. She has a good network of friends who arrange to see her outside of the care hours.
However she has suffered from anxiety and depression and from the forum and medical advice I understand this is common. She has been prescribed anti depressants and to aid the anxiety and now at night at her request as a short term measure until we as a family can organise our lives, night care cover was put in as well as the day time care.
However this has only seemed to increase her anxiety drastically and she is becoming totally focussed on medicines, other aliments and cannot cope with the short periods she is alone. I feel at the moment that the anxiety and depression are a bigger issue than the affects of the stroke and as cognitive harder to tackle
I am about to embark on 4 months of living with my mother and care overnight, two week days and all weekends for her. I have the full support of my wife but I envisage it will be tough.
From the forum I see that we need to be patient and understanding install a time table of events and activities.
My main concern is my mothers mind set, in that I see many references to getting enough sleep, having a positive mind, sharing the joys of completing tasks and taking it day by day.
My big concern on this is the positive mind as clearly my mother has not got this and is dwelling on when she will have her next stroke and her next pill that keep her alive (her thoughts).

Has anyone got any advice in how to try and install a positive mind set. As I am struggling at the moment to get my mother to think that way. Comparing to other Stroke victims with different issue gives it the appearance of one one-upmanship

I hope over the months to share my experiences and in time as I build up confidence in this arena contribute to others in similar situations

Joe, This is a hard one since none of us, so far as I know, are qualified psychologists. Ten weeks,however, is a very short time and, in my own experience, the time when I was also at my most anxious and fearful. My early obsession is that I would have a stroke and die in my sleep. On my first night home I told my partner I would die that night. I did not, of course, but then you think...well maybe it’s the next night. I also saw my pills as life savers. Such thoughts, of course are illogical.

What I needed was a) reassurance and b) a sense of achievement. Each small thing I accomplished gave me a bit more confidence and the determination to achieve more. I have, fortunately, always been a determined person and when faced with problems have always bounced back. Gradually, anxiety decreased, although the stroke was a reminder of my mortality. I am now 20 months on and in a better state of mind. The whole recovery process is complex, frustrating and slow, but progress is made. However, in my first three weeks home I could do very little physically and not really look after myself at all. Then I started to do very small tasks and built on these bit by bit.

Other than that, I can only suggest you try to find out about any opportunities for Mum for psychological assessment and support. However, there are usually long waiting lists for these services.

If you are going to stay with her, might I suggest you get her to help you do quite simple things. Do not try to plan long term things with her, but just what you might do together the next day. I still have a phobia about planning even a few months ahead, just in case I am tempting fate. That said, the more progress I saw I was making, the more positive I became.

I know this might not help you much, but survivors tend to respond differently to their circumstance. I do not live alone and am not allowed to be inactive and brood. I hope you can find the support Mum needs.

Dear Joe
Please accept a gold star for going to stay with Mum. I am sorry to hear of her stroke, please wish her well from me.
Anxiety is very common and not easy to deal with. Patience is indeed the key word. Depression is yet another problem and it is important that Mum does not fall in to depression. It will slow her recovery no end. I can refuse to allow depression to set in and I could feel it attack me every day for many many weeks. But I determined that it was not going to get me.
Smiling is incredibly effective.
Being positive will aid recovery.
But, and this is the big but, only Mum can effect her recovery. No doctor, son nor friend can do it for her. She has to do it herself. Support (such as you are providing) is very helpful, but Mum must make the effort.
She is not ill.
She is injured.
Big difference.
When I first got out and about an acquaintance told me in no uncertain terms, how are you going to achieve your recovery. That jolted me in to action.

If Mum puts in the effort then she can get a lot of recovery. She should continue to get to 100% mobility. I stupidly stopped at 95% and that has caused many problems. I wish I had known to carry on getting the physical side right.
My muscles and bones are not damaged, it is just the messaging from my brain which is faulty.
Being left on my own is a status symbol. I get myself organized and in fact cope better than when my wife is home doing all the household chores for me.
You seem to have provided Mum with the best possible support, well done indeed.
Best wishes
Colin

Dear John and Colin
Thank you for you kind words. advice and observations
I return home next week to support my mother I know it is going to be a long eventful Journey
but with support form people like you I know my mother is on the journey alone

Joe

Anxiety and depression very common post stroke I had terrible anxiety shortly after the stroke and I’m still taking anti depressants 8 months on, things improve over time but I’m damaged for life no doubt about that, my mind will never be the same again. I can only say what I’ve found helpful, getting back to work, daily exercise, good diet, reading, appreciating family time.

Dear Joe
Thank you for that
My mother definitely things she is the only one and is the first person to suffer from the anxiety and depression. Currently I do not feel the anti depressants have kicked in. So a few days to go. But you are right about about exercise and good diet
From past experience of personal depression you need to break the cycle of spiral anxiety which is my task next week when back in the UK. You are also right once you have had a bout of depression you mind is never the same again
Thanks for you input really useful and my thoughts are with you
Joe

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