Living with PTSD after caring for my mother

I am new to this forum and I was brought to this Web page because basically…
I love my family and I love my mother. My mother has been chronically ill ever since I can remember, she has fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, amongst other long term health conditions, leaving her needing 24/7 care. On and off. I have been looking after her. From 16 I remember hospital visits and her in and out of surgeries. But when I graduated from university at 21 she asked if I would become a carer for her, and mentioned carers allowance, now at the time it seemed like a sweet deal, I get paid to do what I was already doing. But after 6 years of cooking dinners for my 2 siblings, my dad, making his lunches, ironing shirts, cleaning the house, emotionally supporting her, dressing her etc. I learned how to drive so I could do shopping trips and take her to hospital appointments. By 2020 I was absolutely drained.
During lockdown 2020 I met my first serious now girlfriend. I very quickly realised that I did not have any time for her and I do build what we have, relax, spend time together, have fun. I was constantly being called every morning to make breakfasts, lunch, dinners, chores etc. I was torn between spending time with her and helping my mum (family) as caring for a mother means doing the things a mother would do… which means I was a 21 year old mothering my family. It was too much and I never ever thought this would be my life.

Only when I began to get serious with my girlfriend did I realise everything I had been sacrificing. I began to ask for more help from my siblings and my dad, nothing worked. So I began to withdraw due to stress and frustration. This was met with what seemed like confusion anger and disappointment. I tried to talk about what I needed but I felt it was not understood. So I eventually told her I want to stop receiving carers allowance. I felt so guilty this whole time. I was met with (Why would you not want to look after your mum) (do you not care) (this is selfish) all these things run through my head everyday and it tortures me.
Now I am at the point where if someone asks me to do anything, even a simple favour, I immediately get angry and sad. I only feel this way when she asks me to do something, or volunteers myself to do a task for someone else. I am immediately triggered and furious.
In turn I feel so guilty about not wanting to help and it is killing me inside. I feel like a selfish asshole. But I cannot bring myself to do it. I cannot ask how she is, I shut down, like I don’t want to know. Its as if my body has had enough. Please could someone let me know if they have experienced similar feelings… resentment, anger, guilt, helplessness.
I now do everything I can to spend as little time with her, therefore my family as possible and I hate how it feels, I’m stuck and don’t know where to turn.
I love my girlfriend and want to start my life with her but due to not having a career, I have no money to move out, so I am stuck in the house witnessing her pain everyday and I can’t bare it. Is this normal?

Hi Charlotte

You’re not alone, you are here, please keep checking back for replies.

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Your feelings are normal, you have no reason to feel guilt.
Without wanting to disrespect your family, you have been put upon to replace your mother and taken for granted when you should have graduated and gone to find your own way in the world.

Family sticks to together - family pulls together - family supports each other.
Who is sticking by you? who is pulling together to do the work with you? Who is supporting you to get work? hmmmmm

You need to contact social services for a care needs assessment for your mother to get her the care she needs for her best independence that she can achieve and to enable you to move on with your life away from the home.

You’ve got a degree, that is great, you have qualifications and it is only 2 years since graduation, it is like an extended gap year, but you need to get out there and get work as soon as you can.

It is time for family to support you by doing their share of work and caring to facilitate you getting a job.

It is not fair on you to be a replacement mum while they all carry on with their lives.
You are within your rights to pack a case and leave if you had the finances to do it.
i don’t know anything about what benefits etc you could get if you did.

You could join the armed forces, you don’t need to worry about accommodation then!
Get a job on a cruise ship.
But, you are in love, you won’t want to do those if you want to be with her.

it is not selfish for you to want to go to the ball Cinderella.
The others are doing it, so why shouldn’t you?!
Don’t be taken for granted.
Will your siblings stay home after school to care for your mum? or graduate and go off out into the world leaving you at home caring for her?
How can you not want to care for your mum? How can they not want you to have a life? how can they leave you doing it all?

The selfish ones are those who are taking you for granted and wanting you to carry on doing it so that they don’t have to do it.
Yes you love them all dearly but you are allowed to leave and have your own life.

Your father should be able to do his ironing and for your siblings, it is not a female talent and making a sandwich is not beyond him.
Your siblings are 6 years older now, they should be capable of doing their share of things and helping to prep meals and learning to cook them.

Your mum asked you if you wanted to do it and you said yes. You are allowed to change your mind and say you want your own life now and the other siblings can take their turn for a while.

Life changes, life is a constant state of flux, people change and you are 6 years older, graduated and in love, you want your own life now, that is a natural state of wanting to leave and make your own life.
But, you have a parent who needs care. It’s an emotional trap that will keep you there if you do not break the trap.

The positives you have for going forward, you have qualifications and you can drive.

Dear Charlotte

You have definitely come to the right place to connect with other carers, you are not alone, many carers are struggling for all sorts of reasons. I’m not sure if you are aware Charlotte but we have set up a weekly get together called Care for a Cuppa, it runs every Monday afternoon, its a chance for carers to come together, talk, share advice and most importantly listen and support each other. We’ve had quite a few new carers join us recently at the session, I’ve attached a link for you. There’s no pressure to share anything you don’t want to Charlotte. Here’s the link for you, we would love to see you there.

with best wishes

Hello It is true you are not alone I have felt all of these things. It sucks that your non disabled family members are making you do all the work just like cinderella! I can’t believe how they react to you when you asked for help and that people say those things like “don’t you care and you should want to look after your mum” this is honestly what I was expecting for people to react to me like when I said I don’t want to nor like looking after my mum just because it’s not what I expected to be doing with my life.
My mum said the exact same thing to me 10 years ago that she said to you “perhaps you should be my carer seen as how you already live with me and you can get carers allowance” I agreed to it out of feeling obliged to. I figured that if I refused, she would get mad at me and think me an arsehole. I feared others would think the same. When I do protest being her carer and having to do ALL the chores (unlike you we have no other family who could and should help out!), I was met with "I’m going to tell everyone on facebook the way you are " and she calls me selfish.
I’m not sure how your mum is with you but I personally am being told to just leave, that my mum is emotionally blackmailing me, I’m not sure if that’s how it is for you but our situations sounds very similar. The only difference is that you haven’t mentioned what your mum is like with you, what your relationship is like with her, and that you have others who SHOULD be helping you!
You even have a girlfriend, congrats, I’m so happy for you. Due to this I have not been able to meet anyone (technicly I should manage to be able to meet someone seen as how I do dating aps and go out these days on my own for the first time in my life of 31 years! ive been going out on my own via taxis and buses for the first time in the last 3 years). I always figured it was due to living with and caring for my mum that I was just not able to meet anyone, but I have seen many a post on here of carers who have met their spouses despite being a carer for a parent. I often wonder why it’s not happening for me… It kind of gives me hope and makes me realise it’s not that, that is the reason! I wonder what the reason is then? Must not have the right energy, but it looks like you have about the same problem as me, all these terrible negative feelings bubbling inside you and thoughts constantly whirring around in y our head day and night. For me I wonder if I should just leave as others have told me I should. I’ve been told my mum is abusing me. I just can’t accept that that is what’s happening and the more people tell me this, the more bad feelings I have on top of the bad feelings of “Oh shit my life is passing me by and going nowhere” and the bad feeling of “But I can’t leave my mum because she’s got no one else and she won’t have stranger carers (professionals) in”
It’s very hard on me. BUt you! You have no reason to feel guilty for stopping… your mum has your dad, her husband, and your siblings. Don’t feel bad, you can rest assured that she has others in her life. If your mum is different to mine she will happily understand and let you go. mine wouldn’t without terrble arguments and guilt trips which I fall for every time because, well… I guess I’m weak… or a too nice person I guess

When did you last have a proper holiday?
You need to get away from it all, recuperate the first week then develop a plan of action the second week. Do NOT ask for permission to go. Say I AM going on holiday and the family have a choice. Either mum accepts residential care or carers for this time, or the other family members help.

Mum is a grown adult, not your child.
You cannot be forced to care, even a married couple don’t have to care for each other.
In future, mum has to decide if she can manage at home, or needs to move somewhere more care is available.
I know how much work a degree involves, and you have every right to reap the rewards. To live your own life, have a career, marry, have your own home.
Think about looking back at your life when you are 70, as I have been doing recently.
Will it be full of regrets, or happy memories?
If you don’t put yourself first, no one else will.
Everyone else is!