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Dear Mary: I feel so trapped and abandoned as the carer to my elderly parents


Stock Image/GETTY

Stock Image/GETTY

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Illustration: Tom Halliday

Illustration: Tom Halliday


Stock Image/GETTY

<b>Q: </b>I am on the brink of despair as I am writing this email. My parents are elderly and not in great health. My father has always been a bully and was never a proper father to us.

He never cared how we did at school.

We only got to school because the bus was passing the door. He would never drive us anywhere.

My father was always mean with money and he is getting more attached to it as he is getting older.

I am angry and upset at the way things are now. I lost my full-time job some time ago and only work one day a week now. I am at home the days I am not working.

I light the fires as this is the only form of heating we have and I prepare the meals.

There have been no improvements done to the house since it was built 65 years ago. I don't clean it as it is a waste of time.

I am the person my parents call on when they need to go to the doctor or collect their prescriptions. I get no support from my sister who left home decades ago and does not come near the place or talk to us.

I feel there is no support for me and no one seems to understand the hardship I am going through.

I feel so trapped.

A This is no way to live your life, and I can understand why you are feeling so down.

You don't appear to have had a very happy childhood and now ever since you lost your job you are spending most of your time as the unpaid help, without the support of your sister. I'm presuming that you have just the one sibling.

If you feel you are depressed about all this then speak to your GP about it.

Your doctor will know the family circumstances and can assess if you need medical intervention.

If this is not the case then it would be helpful if you could make a list of what you would like to change in your life, putting things in order of priority and then start to work on the list.

So if getting a job is the thing that would mean the most to you then that goes at the top of the list.

You have to be aware that nobody is going to come knocking on your door telling you what to do in order to be happier - you will have be proactive and do it yourself.

Does your mother know how unhappy you are?

Both your parents are no doubt glad to have you there almost all of the time and looking after them, so they are not going to do anything to change things.

But you should tell her how you feel.

On a very practical level do you know if a will has been made, and if so are you provided for?

I hope that you have some friends and that you get out socially.

If not, then consider where your interests lie and take on some new activity.

Or get involved with some voluntary organisation.

You have to do something to break the cycle that you find yourself in.

We only have one life and in the future you don't want to look back with more regrets than you already have.

But above all I want you to know that I realise what you are going through is very tough.

It must be very hard to feel so alone and tied down and I'm sure many of the readers will have the greatest sympathy for you.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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