"I feel like a rubber band that has been stretched to breaking point"

Therapist A is a counsellor with a psychodynamic approach with experience of working with adults and young people .
It must have been hard for you to give up a happy life in France and to go home and take over your daughterís household.

The situation you are in is clearly difficult and maybe there are some practical steps that could be taken if you have not already. There seem to be financial issues, which need addressing if they have not already been. It seems that maybe you are being taken advantage of in relation to your pension but perhaps you have found it hard to say Ďnoí. Have you explored all the financial help you could get from state benefits? The Citizens Advice Bureau is usually very helpful with trying to sort out benefits or debt situations.

You say it is quicker to do things yourself but then complain about how tired you are. Perhaps because you undertake so much and it all goes smoothly the family take you for granted or, perhaps, they feel that it is no good offering to help as they donít do things well enough for you. I canít believe that they are completely selfish and maybe they need a bit more encouragement. Would it be possible to sit down with them and explain how you feel both physically and emotionally and perhaps delegate some of the heavier tasks that tire you? Would it be possible that, between them, they could give you a weekend off every so often?

Have you investigated the possibility of respite care? Carers UK could be a helpful organisation and their website is
www.carersuk.org Clearly what has happened to your daughter is very distressing. From what you say she hasnít been completely disabled, as she is still able to drive and visit her daughter. This leaves me wondering why you have to take meals and drinks up to her all day. Perhaps this is one of the things you could delegate in the evenings and at weekends.

I am left wondering about your relationship with your daughter and her family. Living in France might indicate that you were not so close to her before she became disabled so maybe it is difficult to sort out what it is reasonable for you to do and how much financial support is reasonable for you to give. It seems that you are not to upset her children but that she doesnít think about how difficult all this might be for you.

Rather than feeling resentful about being taken advantage of you need to find the strength to work out what is reasonable to expect from a mother in her late sixties in this situation and ask for help with the rest.
Therapist B is a Relate-trained counsellor with experience of working with relationship issues and is an experienced couples counsellor
I'm very sorry to hear of your family dilemma & can quite understand why you are feeling so trapped in the current circumstances. It really does sound as though you have 'buckled down' & taken on a very difficult situation with all the best intentions & I expect that your daughter must be feeling very torn between her gratitude for all that you're doing & still trying to allow her kids to have as normal a life as possible. However, it also seems as though you might be feeling rather taken for granted & at the end of your tether with having to share the house & cope with the completely different life styles going on at the moment.

I recognise that you are trying to keep things going until your daughter succeeds in her claim for damages, which if successful could make life relatively easier all round. Nevertheless, I wonder if it is time for a gentle chat with your daughter first, followed by a family conference if she is in agreement. I know it is difficult to deal with all the different needs in the family but you are being stretched to your limits in every way-financially, practically & emotionally so perhaps this is the time to be honest about your own needs as well?

Maybe a joint meeting around the table at a time when people aren't too tired would help everyone to explain honestly what they felt about how their lives had changed,& if this could be done without blame being bandied around it might help everyone to be honest & clear the air. The purpose would be for everyone to have a share of equal time-say 10/20 minutes, to say how they felt & then pool some ideas about how it could be made any easier for the time being. For example, it does seem as though you are struggling with a lot of debts & I wonder if your local CAB could help with their considerable knowledge or www.insolvencyhelpline.co.uk  might be useful if you, your daughter or grandchildren have access to a computer. It might also be that the teenagers feel they can't live up to your standards of cleanliness, but maybe it would be easier for you to turn a blind eye if you were able to negotiate a fairer amount of time for you to do some things you'd like to do for yourself during the week?

I do know it is easier said than done, but hope that everyone might feel better to have had the opportunity to share their feelings in a non-critical atmosphere, with the aim of trying to accommodate as many needs as possible with as much cooperation as can be arranged. I hope some of the suggestions will help you to feel less alone, but please do write again if you would like more online support.