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Being a Carer at Uni - Update - Page 2 - Carers UK Forum

Being a Carer at Uni - Update

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
I've been trying to think of how to describe /define the difference between 'supporting' and 'enabling', and at the moment I'm coming up with something along these lines:

When you SUPPORT someone you provide a kind of underpinning for them, to 'firm up' the ground beneath their feet, so they can walk FORWARD....ie, your support acts like a 'bridge to a better place'.

When you only ENABLE someone you simply put something under their feet that keeps them where they are, and allows them to go on staying there without any forward motion.

Support is a stepping stone. Enablement is a tethered raft.

Support is dynamic and moves forward

Enablement is passive and static.

Support helps someone progress.

Enablement allows them NOT to progress. In fact, it prevents them from progressing!

Have you ever conducted an exercise in which you do a kind of 'progress report' for your girlfriend (and, indeed, yourself!) about her/your mental states?

If you were a teacher, say, and you were giving yourself a report card/progress assessement? Where would you be able to say 'Improved/Much Improved/No Progress/Regression' etc etc etc.

Forward motion/improvement/progress (healing!) may be slow, there may be lapses and periods of 'backsliding' but if the OVERALL gain is absolute, even if small, then that is acceptable.
Hi Robin
I'm pleased to hear from you. I'm hopeful re the placement. I'm encouraged by the small 'distance' achieved. I think that you need to be needed.
Hugs and some virtual home baked biscuits from your forum Granny.
X
Elaine
jenny lucas wrote: When you SUPPORT someone you provide a kind of underpinning for them, to 'firm up' the ground beneath their feet, so they can walk FORWARD....ie, your support acts like a 'bridge to a better place'.

When you only ENABLE someone you simply put something under their feet that keeps them where they are, and allows them to go on staying there without any forward motion.

Support is a stepping stone. Enablement is a tethered raft.

Support is dynamic and moves forward

Enablement is passive and static.

Support helps someone progress.

Enablement allows them NOT to progress. In fact, it prevents forward
Thank you Jenny! I have been beating myself up over whether I am supporting or enabling My son andyou've got it so right. I'm sorry but I over truncated your original words in my excitement xxx
Glad it rang a bell! That said, it's SUCH a tricky line to tread. My niece has 'chronic depression' (since a child really - never been a happy bunny, sigh), and it's an endless question of whether all our 'support' is really only 'enablement'. When does compassion turn into capitulation? When does sympathy turn into coddling? When does protection turn into infantalisation?

I like to use the term 'firm love' because 'tough love' is too tough, and 'firm' sounds more 'solid' and 'helpful'.
Hi

I like the enablement thing. I think it's hard to admit that some of the stuff I'm doing might be unhelpful long term, but it's definitely true. I guess I feel like we're making progress, but more than anything your talk of enablement and support has given me a bit of a drive because I know I can be supportive and I know we can make progress. This doesn't have to be preventing the worst, it can actually be making things better, and I do think I know ways in which I can continue to improve things. Maybe sometimes that will go wrong, but it will get better again if I keep providing support.

My partner has a rescheduled appointment with a local MH charity in less than a month, and I will absolutely 100 % make sure she goes.

Thanks again for your replies, I've certainly needed them.
Hi Robin

So nice to hear from you again and that things are starting to sound a little more positive. It really is a fine line we tread as carers, and we are never going to get it right all the time. As long as you don't beat yourself up for it, and can continue to hold on to hope, I am sure things will keep improving.

You really come across as being a strong, caring and resilient young person, and it has been a pleasure and a privilege to see you grow in confidence over the past few weeks. I like to try to look for the positive in all situations, and this episode in your life will have given you valuable experience, insight and compassion that most people your age will never have; that is an education that no university degree could ever give you.

Keep in touch xx
Hi Robin,

Someone specifically recommended that I read your posts as you seem to be in a bit of a similar situation to me (I'm a student trying to cope with exams etc while supporting my fiancé who I live with and who is struggling with depression and alcohol problems) and I guess I just want to say that you're not alone. And as good as everyones intentions are and how logical it is to tell you to put yourself first, I've received that advice a lot and it's just never that simple. It's good that the uni knows some of what you're going through and that your partner has been able to get some past but it still sounds really difficult and I'm sorry you have to go through this. You may have mentioned this already but do you have any family/friends you can talk to about this stuff? Personally I used to keep everything to myself but I've found that just offloading everything youre feeling can be a huge help (which is obviously part of why you're here) can be a huge help.

Cat