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Being a Carer at Uni - Update - Carers UK Forum

Being a Carer at Uni - Update

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Hello everyone.

https://www.carersuk.org/forum/specific ... -uni-24962 update from here.

Things have not been going amazingly really. Recently, I think I broke a little and became unable to deal with this situation. A situation occurred in which I ended up fighting with my partner, which is not ideal at all. I couldn't handle everything that's been going on and felt very undervalued and like my partner was mistreating me, leading to a series of conversations where I was not nearly as empathetic as I should have been. We appear to have resolved our issues, but my partner continues to make me feel very guilty about everything that's happened, despite them having dished out just as much, if not more, nastiness.

After all this has happened my partner has lost a lot of respect for me and is not letting me be involved in her professional treatment at all. I don't really know how to deal with this, because it is inevitably still me who is picking up all the pieces. I feel like I made one mistake, due to being under a lot of pressure, and I've now thrown everything I had away. My partner has gone from letting no one in except me, to letting no one in.

I really need to regain trust in this situation but it is hard because my partner keeps pushing me away and I have no idea what they want from me. I am on the receiving end of a lot of hurtful comments every day and that doesn't make it any easier to try and rebuild this situation.

On top of this I got my results from last semester and have failed 3 of my 4 exams. My partner actually did slightly better than me despite them being the one who is really ill. I feel completely unsupported in this situation and I can't deal with being viewed as the bad guy all the time considering how much I have sacrificed so far.

I think I need a pep talk?
Robin - I'm sorry I'm the first person to reply, as I know I upset and angered you last time around (which is why I backed off!). I certainly don't want to add 'oil to burning water' right now either. But I didn't want your post to be 'ignored' for any length of time at all - I know others will be here soon when they come on line.

Put aside what I said last time that upset and angered you - remember that my sole concern is the well being of ALL of you, and the bonding you have in your little community of souls (so to speak) is very heartwarming to hear about. Your loyalty to your partner is beyond exemplary, and clearly heartfelt.

That said....

Do you think that, for the moment, in the light of what is currently the situation, that both you and she would benefit from some 'time out' from trying to help each other and support each other and be as involved emotionally with each other? I don't mean 'walk away and dump her' (!) - I do mean perhaps though 'backing off and giving her some space'. This is not 'just' for your sake, though you are clearly and understandably upset and frustrated by her now, it's for her, too. If you are not helping, (and it seems from how she is reacting to you that your're not)(though not for lack of trying and effort!), then maybe if you give her some space that may help her?

There's a saying in French 'reculer pour mieux sauter' (I think that's how it writes!) - which means 'To take a step back in order to leap forward'.....and maybe that might apply now?

The other reason for this kind of 'time out' or 're-calming' time for you both is that it will enable you to focus on what surely must be a priority for you now, whether or not you want it to be - ie, your course work and exams etc.

University is a time for exploration and self-growth, no doubt about it - but it is also a privilege, I would argue, that not everyone in this country, let alone the world, can enjoy. I would put it to you that you have a duty to those less privileged people not to squander the opportunities which you have - whether they are funded by your paretns, or by your 'future self' via student loans.

The Easter vac is coming up this next month - will you be going home for it, and if so, firstly will that period of separation from your partner be 'good' for you (though yes, painful in terms of missing each other), and secondly, will it give you a chance to get your head down and try to repair the damage of those failed exams? (I hope you've been to your tutor etc, and sat down and talked through just how 'vulnerable' you are now to failing completely, and what your options are for recovering your grades?)

All through life, and now I speak with my 'grown up persons' hat on, we are FORCED as individuals to ride two horses - we have to manage our own mental and emotional lives WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY FEEDING OURSELVES!!!!

That brute need for survival - where we cannot just focus on our mental and emotional lives - can be incredibly hard to serve. But it can also be something of a 'raft' to cling to in a sea of emotional turmoil and heartache and unhappiness.

I do very much hope that things have now 'bottomed out' for you, both in terms of your problems with your course AND your relationship, and that from now on, careful step by careful step, you can start to head for the high ground again, and the sunlit uplands of happiness re-found.

If your partner is destined to be 'the one' for you - then that is what she is. And nothing will stop that, however tormented things are currently between you, and inside your beleaguered minds. Some time, now, a breathing space, a 'calming space' between you, may show you the way forward to a sounder, emotionally healthier and happier relationship between you.

Kindest wishes, and I hope this does not upset you, because you seem to me a young man who has the highest standards of commitment, loyalty and perseverance, and these are qualities to be admired, no doubt about that.
Time to focus on yourself and your own future too.
If you haven't done so already, ask for some tutor feedback on your failed work. Find out what you need to do to get through and when you can resit them. Then revise, revise, revise.
Are you beginning to feel "used"? It has always seemed to me that she is using you for her own needs, without the vital RESPECT. Without this, a relationship is ultimately doomed. Sorry, I know it's not what you want to hear, but I have the advantage over you of age, and experience. Please, please, please, start putting yourself first. Have a separation, maybe agree to meet up after the end of term exams. You MUST now take note of your dreadful exam results and take urgent action if you want to stay at Uni? Would it be better to take time out now? Start the year again in September? You have access to counselling at uni, so ask for some urgent consultations. Sometimes in life, success does not come easily. Either you give up and walk away, with or without regrets; or you dig deep, make sacrifices, work hard, try hard, talk to anyone who can help, and SUCCEED.
I studied for a part time degree, a special mature students Business Studies degree, where we did 90% of the work at home, whilst also running a family which included a brain damaged hyperactive 10 year old. Giving up would have been all to easy, but I stuck it out, to get better marks than a regional bank manager!
Maybe the basic question you need to ask yourself is "Do I really want to do this degree here, now?"
Hi Robin
I'm so sorry it's all gone pear shaped. I hear how much you are giving and giving and giving and how much love and commitment you are contributing.
One thing really stood out in your last post.
"My partner actually did slightly better than me"
Does that tell you anything?
This is your forum 'Granny' talking and I really, really think that you should take a break. Easter hols? Get away from Uni, get away from your partner, get away from stress and take some long walks, spend time with your old mates and your family and try to see the wood for the trees. (The bigger picture apart from the detail, in case you haven't heard that one before. Well, you never know!).
all the above, and then some.
When I was at Uni, one of the female students - a posh girl from a posh family - had a wealthy and attractive boyfriend from a different country, and she was besotted with him.
Then she used to appear for breakfast at our Hall of Residence with bruising on her face. None of us had any idea how to approach her about this, because she kept herself to herself and was a bit aloof, but she was clearly being beaten, badly.
The hardest thing to do is to know what to say to someone who is drowning.
I hope you are not. Good luck.
Two 'extreme' possibilities.....

(1) You 'defied' your partner, called her behaviour to account, which is 'against her rules' so she is now 'punishing you' by withdrawing her favour.

(2) You 'expected/demanded' more emotional and psychological intimacy than she felt comfortable with, she felt you were 'pushing', and so has taken refuge in withdrawal from you within a 'privacy/security' zone.

I put these two extremes down not because either is necessarily real, either in whole or even in part, but to show how 'variously interpretable' accounts can be. I would argue that your post allows either to be true - or, of course, an (infinite?) number of alternatives! (Text serves as 'data' which then has to be analysed, arranged/structured, and then interpreted for correct conclusions to be drawn, and lines of further enquiry to be identified/indicated.)(I'm deliberately trying to put that into scientific methodology as I remember you are doing sciences!)

However, seeing what the 'reduction to extremity' can lead to, in either direction of interpretation, may give you some boundaries (ie, 'hmm, a bit of that rings a bit true')(if it does!), and also some parameters, in that it can give a 'map' to whereabouts you and your partner are right now - ie, give clues by 'exclusion of the extremes' as to what is going on between you emotionally.

What do you friends and flatmates think is going on here? Are they giving you any insights/support? Their interpretation may be helpful, even if they are not the correct ones, simply because you can then tell what IS going on by realising that it ISN'T what someone else thinks it is!

Sometimes, the good thing about a crisis is that it can 'resolve the issue' and 'force us to find a solution' because there is no other way to proceed.
In a plane we are told to put on our own oxygen masks before helping others with theirs. Time to make sure your own mask is on and working.
Hello everyone, thanks again for taking the time to reply to this post, sorry I didn't manage to get back to you sooner.

So I think I should clarify, for the record, the only reason my partner did slightly better than me in exams is because she was taking less so had less to fail. We're both doing diabolically badly at uni this year. Having said that, I'd like to make it clear I take my degree very seriously and I worked very hard to be where I am. I do think I can make it through this year and I am in a lot of contact with the education office about my situation.

So, things with my partner, I have tried to have some space from her, but when you live with someone you love who is in a constant state of crisis it's not that easy. I've been spending a bit more time at my mates house and have been spending more time in uni trying to catch up on work. I do plan to spend Easter largely at uni so I can have space to focus on work. My partner is still undecided on where they will be for most of Easter. It is probably important to note at this point that the next year of my degree is spent in industry and I have a placement which is near where my parents live and will be moving away to live with them again in July. This terrifies me as I don't know how my partner will cope without me, but we have been working to try and extend her support so it is not entirely coming from me, as well as working on her independence. I think my partner has begun to properly trust me again, which is good, however she is in a very bad state. She has also been discharged from the mental health services so we're kind of on our own again for now.

I am very aware that I let other people's problems take over my life, my partner is not the only example of this, a lot of friends and family rely on me very heavily. I am also very aware this is breaking me a bit and I am trying to focus on my own life, but it really just is not that simple. People at crisis point are very intense, and for some reason I have become known as a person to turn to during crisis, which to be honest I'm pretty happy with - at least someone's doing it. You cannot simply tell someone you love that you don't have time for them when their whole life seems to be falling apart, so I'm not going to do that. Instead I sacrifice most my casual interactions with my loved ones to give myself time for work and being alone, which tends to piss people off a bit but isn't really a big deal.

I want to say I feel more in control of the situation, because I do feel like that. However this doesn't change that I'm still having to do way beyond what I should have to in this situation, but I do not know how to change that.
Good to hear back from you. Always a tad worrying when posters 'disappear' - we're not sure if we scared you off, or you are in a worse way, or what.

You do sound like you have a good understanding of yourself, and your situation, and your relationships. So many people have no understanding of themselves, or why they are how they are, or what is 'going in' in terms of motivations and effects in their minds. So it's good that you can do all that!

I probably mentioned 'enablement' first time around with you, and I won't go on again, but bear that term in your head the whole time when you analyse your relationship with your girlfriend. It's a very delicate line between 'support' and 'enablement'........

If your time is spent between supporting your girlfriend (and hopefully not enabling her!) and your studies, leaving little time for anything else, and that might 'piss people off' well, let them be so pissed! That said, they are probably pissed off FOR you, rather than AT you, as they see you being 'drained out' by your girlfriend AND all the others that you 'look after'.

Robin, it's a desperately sad truth of life that we CANNOT SAVE EVERYONE. We just can't. Even poor old JC 'gave up' when it came to human suffering .... 'The poor ye have always with you'........and it's true, it's true, it's true. At some point, we have to ration ourselves.

Juggler's comment that in air emergencies we have to put our own oxygen masks on first is very, very true.....

Kind wishes as always, Jenny.

PS - glad you're going to do a year in industry - it will help 'refocus' you, and open you to the wider world. Uni life can get very 'inbred'. I can understand you're worried, especially about how it will impact your relationship, but on the other hand, once you both graduate, the 'real world' will be very similar to your year in industry, so next year will give you both a taster and a preparation for post-uni life.