Nanon and everyone else who is going through (or has gone through) caring for an ill parent my heart goes out to you all. I am currently taking care of my mom who has terminal cancer. I can't imagine adding mental illness to the current strain. It doesn't seem possible. But then again, if there is one thing this experience has taught me it is that you adjust to everything. Just when it doesn't seem like it can't get any worse - it does.
I highly recommend therapy, because it is a lot to go through alone. As for unhelpful family, have you tried directly telling them that you would appreciate more help on their part? They may feel like you have it all under control and there is nothing they can do. (or they could just not care.... grrrrrr.)
I also want to pass along the following advice: you have to still live your life. Hearing this prompted me to sign up for the remaining pre-med requirements I still have left. (2nd semesters of orgo and physics - can't wait for the fun to begin!!)
Take care of yourselves and good luck pursuing your dreams.
I just wanted to say thank you to everyone again for all of their kind words of support. I've revisited this post a few times when things have gotten out of hand through all of this.
An update, in case anyone was wondering how this is working out:
I was wrong about how long she would need radiation. We are now in week four of SEVEN weeks... it's been pretty rough, but so far somewhat managable. My gpa is gonna take a hit, but I'm still in all of my classes. I keep reminding myself that this is temporary, that I'll have two more tests to make up for my less than stellar performance on my first mid-terms.
The radiation is going pretty well. It's funny - all of us family members in the waiting room have become like a support group! We see each other every day, and compare notes on commute times and prognosis and just the general hassle of it all. Mom's starting to get the "sun-burn," and the low energy thing, but she's really being a total trouper about it all.
This is not to say that we haven't had some problems, the biggest right now being that she's starting to depend on me for things she shouldn't. Things like finding her way to the doctor's office once we're in the hospital, or getting small chores done. That's starting to change a little, but only after a few major arguments. I've done a little research on this, and it's normal - but it's frustrating.
I haven't gone to NAMI - I haven't had time! But I did finally have it out with my relatives. I told all of them that if I didn't get some help, *I* was going to have a nervous break-down, and then they'd have to take care of her anyway. It worked. My aunts are helping with the driving on the weekends (huge! The drive alone was starting to make me insane) and my sister and I are working out long-term financial stuff. That's also huge. Taking care of a cancer patient is expensive! Also, my husband has started taking a day off a week to take my mom in, so I can have a little extra study time. Thankfully, his boss is completely understanding about it, and the hubby is able to work at home on those days.
I think the hardest thing for me personally right now, beyond watching my mom go through all of this, is school. People at work and at my volunteering are so supportive, but people at school (professors, counselors, and esp. other students) are the polar opposite. I'm not doing too well on my midterms, not because I'm not studying enough, but because I'm freaking TIRED. (I slept 12 straight hours last Wednesday after my neuro exam.) I'm not used to doing that badly, and it doesn't help when my fellow students look at me like "What happened?" or say things like, "This is easy - what's wrong with you?" (Yes, someone actually said that to me.)
Anyhoo, that's all for now on this front. I hope everyone is doing well, and thanks again!