Carer Depression - My Story

Hello my name is Jake, I am 20 years old and have been caring for my mother for the past 3 and a half years. This post might be long so I appreciate anybody who takes the time to read it and I truly value any replies.

Throughout my life my mum has always needed help due to her many illnesses. My attendance in school was always extremely low because of this and I struggled to make friends because of this which resulted in me spending most of my school life alone. My mother could always be toxic in many ways being overly controlling, making me feel stupid, being the lesser child, emotionally manipulative and very angry much of the time. Over the years this has gotten much worse and has peaked over the last few years. Despite all this I love her and want to help her anyway I can.

3 and a half years ago I felt like my life was finally coming together I had a close group of friends for the first time ever and had started dating a girl I had a crush on for a long time. Then one day my mother told me she was pregnant. I was overjoyed to have a new member of the family but this came at the cost of me having to drop out of school to help my mum through the pregnancy because it made her many disabilities worse. After I dropped out I quickly lost all my friend and my short lived relationship had ended because I could never make time for any of them.

Ever since I have been looking after my mum and raising my baby sister. Although she is my sister I have grown a more parental emotional bound with her and I love it. She is my whole world. I also still want to help my mum but she is making it very difficult. She is constantly angry with me, controlling over all my life choices and blames me for a lot of her problems. She has also become very paranoid and accused me of many things that I did not do. I know that she loves me but I don’t think she has any respect for me as my own person. I should emphasis that she is perfectly fine with my baby sister, she takes her guilt and frustrations out on me and my older sister who is 24.

I have reached the point mentally where I am exhausted and sad. If I’m not sad I just feel numb and emotionless. I’m not suicidal but I am very depressed and stressed. I have plenty of dreams and ambitions but I can’t persue them, have almost no free time and am constantly broke for cash.

I want to talk to people I’m close too like my sister or my one friend who sticked with me but they each have their own issues and I don’t want to add anything onto them. My sister just went through an extremely toxic relationship and is depressed and my friend is dealing with bipolar disorder. I am trying to help them both through their problems also but I am dealing with my own life alone and don’t know how to cope.

Thank you for reading this.

Hello. Welcome to the forums!

Have you requested a needs assessment or not? Call the local council tomorrow to start the process. I fully understand your emotions. During my first year of caring I was overwhelmed at times. It took me approximately six months to feel that I could maybe do this. I kept a diary as well chronicling my feelings etc.

Have you considered volunteering or not? There are lots of options out there. What about freelance enterprise work? That may be a viable option. Also research how to find work when you have a disability or impairment too.
Start by making a list of your skills and hobbies. Stay calm and positive. Look online to find vacancies, many sites are useful to those looking for work. Read job descriptions and pay attention to the requirements and so on. Careers and work for disabled people | Disability Rights UK. Good luck!

Are you seeing a counsellor or therapist? It can definitely help you. Ask for a referral to a community mental health team. It sounds like both of you could benefit from therapy or counselling sessions. See if you can find a private counsellor or therapist. The British Psychologist Society can help you access support. Talk to your doctor.

Thanks for the reply. I have looked into therapy but I can’t start that without mother finding out and if she does she will either treat me differently or her mental health will be further effected and I don’t wanna be the cause of any of that.

I also don’t have time for volunteering or working. I’m a 24/7 carer for my mum and baby sister. I tried working at a bar last 2 years ago. It was late at night when my sister was asleep so I didn’t have to worry about mum trying to look after her by herself but I was physically exhausted having to do all that work and be a carer. Plus I was suffering from insomnia so I barely slept. It wud be too much work for me currently.

Jake, you cannot live your own life worrying about mum all the time. You are a young man and should be out there enjoying your life.
A good mum would be doing her very best to encourage you to do this, yours is just a nasty manipulator.
Are you never ever allowed to go out without saying where to?
It’s a real shame that this wasn’t all sorted out years ago when you were school age.

Without wishing to be crude, mum did find time and energy to go out, meet someone and make a baby! Her behaviour as far as the child is concerned is dreadful. She isn’t even taking responsibility for the child.
Counselling is absolutely vital to help you make a life change. We have helped a few others over the year make that change, and will give you all the support you need to stand up for yourself more.

Hi Jake,
I am new to this forum. You have such a huge responsibility on your hands. My mum sounds a bit like yours. My youngest brother stays with my mum, he has been there all his life and never moved out. Due to my mum being manipulative and controlling him mentally. I tried so hard to get him to leave and have a life for himself and now hes given up and thinks hes too old to do so. My mum has no real physical disabilities. After my dad died young she gave up and just depended too much on my 2 brothers who lived at home at the time. Please dont do as my younger brother has done. Take sound advice that comes your way, and get some sort of life for yourself. My mum now has early signs of dementia and my brothers mental state is not great. An awful situation and frustrating for me as I am finding it difficult to offer help as neither will except and I can only visualise that things will get worse for them both. Remember that you’re mum will get older and could be more of a burden on you longterm. You need to take advice and you are probably stuck in a rut and unsure what way to turn. You do not want to be your mums life carer. Like said here you are still young. At least you’ve taken the first step to posting here.

Well done for posting. That really can’t have been easy.

You are a young man. You are entitled to a life. To an education. To a job. Your Mum needs to accept outside help to enable you to have these things. This is what a good parent should want for you. Not for you to be giving up your own happiness for her.

Your Mum’s illnesses aren’t her fault. But they are not yours either. Taking out her frustrations on you is not acceptable.

She certainly shouldn’t be making you feel bad about seeking help for your own depression.

It is a complicated situation with your little sister. It sounds like you are doing an amazing job by her. But you can’t keep looking after her and your Mum. It just isn’t fair. You really need some help and support so you can live your life. Fulfil your own dreams and ambitions and have a family of your own if that is what you want.

Has your Mum had a recent needs assessment by social services. Usually that is the start of getting some additional support. Then maybe you can look at resuming your education?

Thanks for all the kind replies guys. I dunno what I’m even feeling to be honest. I feel guilty for even saying any of these things like I’m in the wrong. Then again this whole opening up things is new to me. This is the first time I’ve properly done it. Maybe I’m just being too sensitive mum would always say about Manning up. God I don’t know. Honestly I feel like I am experiencing 2 people’s emotions at once and I can’t figure out which is actually mine and if the other is just what manipulation feels like.

Don’t feel bad. You are not to blame. I think it is time for change. Start using the word no more often. You deserve happiness.

Jake, sorting things out is difficult, certainly there are no quick fixes.
After I was widowed, I bought a book called Starting Again by Sarah Litvinoff (usually cheap on ebay). It’s written primarily for those who have recently ended a long term marriage/relationship. However, it deals mainly with how the reader is feeling, getting to know yourself better. I’m sure this would help you.

I think feeling conflicted is utterly normal. All of us are here because we do “care” emotionally and literally for our loved ones. We want what is best for them but feel sad/frustrated/guilty because this often in direct conflict with what we want in out own lives.

At the end of the day it is probably about achieving some kind of balance. That takes into account their needs and out own. This generally means getting some outside help in. When I found my way to the forum (I think it was around 3 years ago now) I was utterly broken. I was caring for 2 elderly parents with my sister plus 2 small children. My sister blamed me for not doing more. I felt I was already at full stretch. I was depressed, my sister was physically ill. We lurched from crisis to crisis. It was an utter mess. I felt guilty and sad and at times really hated by parents. Which didn’t feel great.

The forum helped me to realise that there comes a point when you just can’t do it all anymore. It taught me that I was important too. It taught me that you are not responsible for someone else’s happiness. It taught me to stop feeling guilty. Nothing about your Mum’s situation is your fault. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Feel sad for her. Feel sad for you and your sisters. But ditch the guilt. You should feel proud of all you have done over the years. Not guilty that you don’t want to give over your young life to caring.

Things are better for me now. I had given up work because I couldn’t do it all. I now have a job. Dad died this year. But Mum is living at home with me and my sister doing some caring and outside help the rest. I work part time because I still want to care for her. It has been about finding a better balance. I have a better relationship with my Mum now I don’t feel resentment towards her.

Best of luck. Have a really good think about what you would like out of life. If your weren’t a carer what would you like to do?

It IS manipulation. Hopefully now you can access support not just for her but for yourself too. How old is your little sister now? Has a needs assessment been done? That is the first step of the process. Call your local council on Monday and ask for a social worker to come and carry out a needs assessment.
A financial assessment also should be done ideally at the same time. Make sure to obtain a copy of the assessment report detailing findings by the social worker as well. You might need it later on. Keep all reports together in one place in a folder. Is she always been this way or not?
Don’t listen to her. I hope that you start trying to access counselling or some kind of emotional support too. A therapist is also recommended.

Jake - please don’t allow your mum to treat you in this way.
You should be out enjoying yourself.
Decide what you would like to do - paid work or more studying.
If your mum hasn’t got much money then she might well be entitled to outside carers for free.
I guess your mum is about 50 years old. She could need help for the next 30 years .

If you start respecting yourself - then your mum will start respecting you. But it won’t happen overnight.
The fact a little toddler is involved (and you obviously love her very much) makes things more difficult.
When your mum gets angry with you or is nasty to you then say ‘I am not going to have a conversation with you while you’re shouting at me’. Then walk away from her, into a different room or upstairs. Stay calm.

Hello Jake. It is bad enough that you have a manipulative mum but your situation is more complicated than most because of your mum’s latest daughter. On your own admission, and understandably, you have developed a parental-type bond, though it would be more orthodox for you at your age to be aspiring towards marriage and having a child of your own. You seem to have started in this direction but stalled.

You don’t seem to have said anything about your father, or baby sister’s father. Is either of them still on the scene? Are they the same person? Our knowledge of this could be helpful.

Your mum is not treating you well, and you do not have a moral duty to care for her. Hence the wise advice from others is to arrange a needs assessment.

I realise that it would be a wrench if you needed to distance yourself from your baby sister but you could still maintain some sort of contact at a comfortable distance. You are young and still have time to sort out a better life for yourself; just don’t keep delaying.

Also on your admission, you are suffering from guilt feelings. “Love your neighbour as yourself” is a great principle, embedded in Christianity and other faiths. However if you are seen to be too caring, this principle can be exploited by others towards their selfish ends. Learn how to deal with this with dignity.

Bowlingbun recommended a good book, and I’d like to recommend another. It is When I Say “No” I Feel Guilty, by Dr Manuel J Smith, ISBN 0-553-20977-9. It is available from Amazon, or if you prefer you could try E-bay, or your local bookshop could possibly get it for you. It’s absorbing reading and great advice!