Not sure if this is the right area (I’m 23). I’m new to the forum, so please be patient with me
Long story short, I was a carer for my Mum on and off since late 2016. I went to Uni in 2018 when things were ‘fine’ (well, as they could be after Mum had 2 major surgeries I guess). Mum’s health declined, and we found out her condition was terminal in late 2019. I took the year off (stress), but got locked down during the pandemic. Moved back in with her and Dad in August 2020, and quickly fell into full-time caring (18-22hr days, still ‘on call’ outside of that). I re-joined Uni in October 2020, quickly couldn’t keep up with classes and stuff, but tried. Mum passed away in May this year. It was quite sudden, overall. I deferred my exams and scraped through them in the summer.
I’ve gone back to campus this week, and I’m just struggling. I find it hard to talk to people (I’ve only spoken to family, doctors, and Mum’s carers for the past 18 months). On top of that, I’m struggling with the innocent, innocuous questions from people like “How was your summer?”, so I’m not exactly the most social. I know people are concerned I’m not settling in, but I don’t know how to. I’m up most nights just wandering around or with the radio on because I’m that used to being needed at night, I don’t know what else to do.
I’ve been living in survival mode that long, that it feels like I’m having to learn to re-live both as a person, and in terms of moving out of the ‘one day at a time’ mindset. Does anyone have any advice on this, or honestly just an e-hug would be appreciated.
Adapting back into life when caring ends is difficult and factor in Covid and restrictions - no wonder you are finding it tough!
Well done though for going back to Uni. You might find you will talk to students in your lectures and seminars about the work but find a different peer group to mix with socially. You might for example have more in common with some of the postgrad students.
Your uni should have well-being services and you would do well to make contact with them.
The guild will also have lots of societies to join, this is a good way to meet people and have something in common to talk about and focus on.
The how was your summer questions will soon be replaced by ‘how are you finding your course?’ ‘Which assignment are you doing?’ Etc
(((HUGS))) from me. I’ve lost too many relatives now, all four of our parents, husband, sister in law, brother.
The widows forum I belonged to agreed that the six months after the death is the lowest point, and that is where you are now.
Think how long you have been a carer, the longer the caring, the stress, and all that goes with it, the longer it takes to recover physically, and mentally.
Don’t worry about not wanting to converse too much with anyone, or be the life and soul of an event, you are grieving.
The time will come again when you are happy, but you need to ride the next few months out. From my experience it’s OK to meander around doing nothing in particular. Try to think of this as the time when your brain is processing what has happened. I had a stock phrase when asked “How are you?” Perhaps you could say something like “it’s been a really tough year, but I’m slowly getting better”. No need to give further details unless you want to.
In some ways, studying will give you something to concentrate on (I did a part time Honours degree whilst caring for my son). Maybe work out a timetable for yourself that involved a good walk at some time during the day. I found walking aided the “settling down again” process.
Please don’t be too hard on yourself at the moment.
If you can possibly afford it, plan a holiday next year, as lazy or energetic as you want. Having something new and different to look forward to will help.
I found a book called “Starting Again” very helpful. Aimed at divorcees, but equally appropriate for anyone facing a new beginning. It’s a very easy read book, you can pick it up, read a page or two whenever you want to.
Make sure your personal tutor or supervisor is aware of your situation, and if you are getting bogged down, tell him.
From now on it will slowly get better, day by day. Not being on duty all the time takes time to adjust to.
Keep in touch, we are all here for you. You have been a wonderful son, devoting so much time to mum when she needed you most. Feel proud.
Firstly a huge warm welcome to our forum, you’ve certainly come to the right place to find others who are going through or have experienced similar issues. Well done for getting back to uni, that takes an enormous amount of strength after everything you’ve been through. I know there a several issues you have raised, I’ve attached a link to our life after caring page, you may have already come across it When caring ends or changes | Carers UK
It might also be worth getting in touch with other agencies such as cruise https://www.cruse.org.uk/ they run a helpline and have volunteers who you can talk to.
We also run weekly informal meetups every Monday afternoon at 3pm, its a time when carers can come together and talk online about their experiences, share advice and be there to support each other. Many carers are struggling at the moment for all sorts of reasons, a lot of our carers have said how supportive and valuable they’ve found the sessions. There’s no pressure to share anything you’re not comfortable with, it’s a chance to meet others who understand what you are going through. I’ve attached the link for you. Please do come along if you would like to. Online meetups | Carers UK
with best wishes
I’m looking at joining the mature students forum at the moment. I have friends here who are postgrad, so I’ll get back into touch with them properly over the next week or so. I forget everyone is probably nervous too, with Covid and everything. My classmates are great, I’ve just been a little (okay, a lot) shy. Hopefully we’ll all be used to each other soon!
Well-being know me well (pun intended), so I’ll check their drop in times and catch up with them.
I have a societies meeting tonight, actually. I joined last year, but couldn’t really join in (for obvious reasons). I’ll see how I’m feeling in a bit and might head over. It’s comedy of all things, so hopefully we’ll have a laugh.
I forget how quickly the Uni year moves, haha. We’ve been back 3 days and already have assignments so I can see it changing soon
Thank you for replying. Honestly. I’m starting to feel a bit better already
I’m so sorry that you’ve lost your mum. It sounds like its been really hard for you to adjust from being a carer to not. Can you remember a time before you were caring, what you used to do then with your time? Or maybe what you would have liked to do when you couldn’t?
I get that people asking about your summer must be difficult as it’s the British thing to do to say ‘it was fine, it was ok’ anything but the truth. What would happen if you were honest and just said its been difficult, but thank you for asking?
All unis should have their own counselling services - maybe see if its something you can access. Or see if there’s any societies or groups/clubs you’d like to join to help meet people. You’ve got this