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Need some help re possible carer role - Carers UK Forum

Need some help re possible carer role

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Hi Guys

Hope you don't mind me asking for some help and support.

Basically I currently live separate to my ex wife and daughter but feel things cant go on like they are for much longer.

Ex wife has BPD and is having more "low" periods than stable times recently and is not coping at all well on her own. Our daughter is playing up to this and her behaviour is starting to get really bad (she is 6)

Am thinking I need to become her carer and we all move in together but with separate bedrooms.

I am just so scared and not sure this is the right thing to do. Yes I do still care for my ex and obviously love my daughter but also feel like I would be "giving up my life" if I were to do this. I don't mean this to sound bad as I understand a lot of people find themselves in a carer role because of their husband/wife/child becoming ill but it is something totally different to actively seek out that role.

Please can you come back to me with some words of support as I am not in a good place myself at the moment as do not know what to do for the best. I want to be there for my daughter and would never forgive myself if my ex did something silly but am so so confused at the moment

Thanks
xx
Hi - I don't have any experience for MH issues, so please take what I say with a pinch of salt. I would suggest that you try and find a way to look after your daughter without you moving in, could she move in with you? I would say, it's not a good idea to move in and take everything on again - your relationship with your partner ended for a reason. You are right to be concerned for your daughter, and you need to find a way to keep her safe and on an even keel. Do you know whether your ex is getting any MH support, social services support etc? If not, then you definitely need to get them involved.

Sorry I can't offer more concrete advice, but just wanted to let you know that I'd read your post.

All the best.

Emma
Hello
I too want you to know I've read your post. I agree with Emma. Your little girl is priority and needs some. I'm not sure she would get that if you became your ex wife's carer. Your ex wife needs outside help and you can concentrate on what best for you and your daughter.
I'm sorry I can't be any more help. I'm sure others on the forum will be able to offer good advice.
Take care
Pet66
Hi Guys

Yes ex is receiving medical help. She is currently under crisis team and having home visits. But she feels that she will never overcome or be able to cope with her BPD.

I know what you are saying is right. It was because of how she treated me that I applied for divorce in the first place, but I would never forgive myself if she were to do something silly. Our daughter would be devastated if she had to grow up without a mum. I just feel it is my role to keep my ex safe, which I am not sure it is.

I totally agree that my first priority should be my daughter but am so worried what would happen to her mum if daughter were to come to live with me.

Sometimes what you should do isn't always what you think you should do when you are in the middle of it.
NeedingSomeFriends wrote:Hi Guys

Yes ex is receiving medical help. She is currently under crisis team and having home visits. But she feels that she will never overcome or be able to cope with her BPD.

I know what you are saying is right. It was because of how she treated me that I applied for divorce in the first place, but I would never forgive myself if she were to do something silly. Our daughter would be devastated if she had to grow up without a mum. I just feel it is my role to keep my ex safe, which I am not sure it is.

I totally agree that my first priority should be my daughter but am so worried what would happen to her mum if daughter were to come to live with me.

Sometimes what you should do isn't always what you think you should do when you are in the middle of it.
NeedingSomeFriends, I'm not sure of the best/right way to say this so I apologise if it sounds uncaring or too harsh but with the best will in the world, even if you lived together again, if she wanted to harm herself she could still find a way to do so. The sister of a friend of mine hanged herself whilst her daughter and partner were out at the park; when they got home her daughter, who was only two at the time, was the one who found her. I can completely understand your feelings about this and can only imagine what a difficult situation it is for you to deal with, but in my opinion it is your daughter whom you are responsible for, not her mum, however much you might still care for her. Your daughter's safety, welfare, health and happiness must all come first and from what you've said it sounds like she'd be better off living with you. I don't think you moving in with them will (a) prevent your ex from harming herself if she wants to (b) be the best thing for your daughter (it sounds as if the situation would be very stressful and many carers on here will tell you that if there is someone to do the 'caring' part all the various agencies just walk away and leave you to it) as she may end up with two parents who are not happy, thriving and enjoying life.

I completely understand your ex's feelings about never getting better; I suffered from mental health problems when I was younger and can remember the terror of thinking it would never change. But for lots and lots of people it does; things do improve and they do learn how to cope and manage with bad spells when they happen.

It doesn't need to be a 'forever' situation; your daughter could live with you until such time as her mum is stable and well again, or you could go to shared custody then or something like that. She could still see her mum daily, assuming you live near enough for that to be practical. When I was unwell, my son went to live with my sister for a period of time. His daily routine barely changed; he still went to the same nursery and I went to my sister's every day to have tea with them, play with him, bath him and put him to bed, and then I went back to my own house and he slept there. He barely even noticed he wasn't living with me, to be honest.

I do think you need to explore other options that don't involve you moving in. It doesn't sound like it's going to help any of you and would it work practically? Ie, can you keep your current place going when you don't live there so that you have somewhere to go back to if and when the situation changes? Or could you potentially find yourself homeless?

Are you in contact with her crisis team? If she needs more support it really ought to be coming from them and if she is suicidal at any time then she ought to be in hospital so perhaps you need to have a chat with them about the situation as well and see what other improvements can be made so that you can focus on supporting your daughter. I hope the situation gets a bit easier for you soon.
Dreadful though it is, I do agree with Mumwhocares - if your ex is determined to end her life, she will, and living with her won't stop that. In a way, you know, it's her 'right' to do so if that is what she is truly determined to do....it is not 'unreasonable' when tormented by mental illness, and the ordeal of keeping going when one is so, so, so low, to think 'I don't want this any more'.

I know that runs counter to most of our instincts, but for those with severe, dreadful, and incurable or intractable mental illness, it could be seen as 'cruel' to 'condemn' them to live - if we know of someone with a dreadful physical illness, that makes their life and continuing existence unbearable, and they ended their life 'prematurely', we would not think that 'unreasonable'....so perhaps that is a way of regarding mental illness that is of a similar severity and unendurablness??

(Please don't think I'm being 'airy-fairy' here - my husband died of cancer, and although the cancer 'got him first' he had made plans and resolutions to take matters into his own hands, if his cancer made continuing his life unbearable to him.)

With the above in mind, that is, in my own opinion (and it's only a lay opinion obviously), I could argue that if your daughter came to live with you, it is the BEST way to protect her not just from the toll that having a mother with mental illness will have on her, and already is (I also write as someone whose mother had paranoid schizophrenia, and that definitely took a toll on me, my brother, and my father)(and my poor mother as well of course), but if your daughter were living with you, settled and 'safe', then IF IF IF IF IF your ex DID take matters into her own hands, it would be far, far less traumatic for your little girl. She would already be living with you, that would be her home, and her mother would be more of a 'visitor', not the person she lived with.

Children ARE resilient, but they need a degree of safety and security, and to my mind she is more likely to have that, living with you, than with a tormented and volatile mother.

This is a 'big thing' however, and obviously needs a lot of forethought, cooperation with the SS etc, and perhaps counselling all round. If 'total' custody with you is not possible, or not advisable straight away, then surely 'shared custody' with you would be the first step at any rate.

I truly advise against moving back in to look after your ex. There is another poster here, a woman, who tried taking back her ex with MH, and was defeated by it - he has now moved out again. No children were involved, but she realised she simply could not 'carry' him any longer, and for the rest of his life, much as she had hoped to be able to support him to that extent.

Wishing you as well as possible in what is a very sad situation, with no 'perfect solution', only one that will best protect your daughter. Hopefully, if your ex is a devoted mother, she will want the best for her little girl, even if that means either sharing custody, or even yielding it to you. You can then ensure that her contact time is as rich and fulfilling and 'calm' as possibly can be.

I do hop that you have made your daughter' s school aware of her domestic situation, so that support structure are in place. Sadly, you can be sure she isn't the only child there with a parent with MH - it is all too common alas.

Finally, it's great that your daughter has you to keep watch over her, and be the 'stable point' in her life.

Kindest regards, in a very sad situation - Jenny
Hi All

You seem to have confirmed what I was thinking, really, if I am honest. That I shouldn't be moving back in as "mum's carer"

I was kind of trying to forget the verbal and emotional abuse I had to endure when we were married and that things might be better now. Probably, well almost certainly, not.

Yes I do think I need to take my daughter on full time but if I did I think her mum plans to move long distance away (approx. 5 hours away) from where we both separately moved from in April. Not her home town or family but where we were for the 10 years or so of marriage. Yes I agree that once again I cannot and wouldn't even try to "dictate" where she lived but that would stop the daily or even weekly visits that I would have encouraged with her and our daughter.

I totally understand that my priority is our daughter but I wouldn't want something bad to happen to my ex. I would be devastated and so would our daughter. Yes I know we would probably get over it but it would be hard and don't want to have the regrets of "What if I had ......."

Think I need to start thinking about how I go about taking on my daughter full time. Don't think I would get any obstacles from her mum but first need to find somewhere to live (as I am just in lodgings at moment) and need to sort job out, as my current one is 10 hour shifts over the weekend, so not at all child friendly.

I do want to make this work and thank people for confirming what I was already thinking.

Please keep on posting, as I can do with some friends and support at the moment xxx
Hello
I have recently experienced a very similar situation. My ex partner has a MH illness and after walking away and leaving us after 13 years together because his MH changed him to a person that in all respects looked the same but mentally he was different. Anyway after a year off being away doing things totally out of character for him he asked for my help. Nobody else wanted to step in to help so I did. He moved back in with us and it truly was the wrong decision. It became apparent his MH condition was hugely more than I could handle and I was completely out of my depth. The situation wasn't at all ideal for our ten year old child. He had to be my upmost priority. It is extremely hard caring for someone with a mental illness but when that person wa once your husband/wife/partner its harder. Support was basically non existent and you have to fight hard to access anything. I made the decision to give up my role as carer for the wellbeing off myself and our son. I thought I could do it, we had history, we were a family once but his MH changed that and carit for the person he now is was more difficult than I could imagine. I hope this maybe of some help and I hope things start to become positive for you all
Hugs
Christine xxx
I don't think you should move in with mum, given your history, and I don't think it's fair for her daughter to remain there either. This next few months is going to be really "full on" for you. You are going to have to make some really big sacrifices and changes, and with the school holidays coming up, you don't have much time! I've never suggested this ever before, but I think in the short term, you might be better giving up your job, or drastically reducing your hours. Clearly, this will have major side effects, so start off by finding out from our Carers UK helpline what the position would be if you worked part time, or not at all, for a while. The helpline are benefit experts, they made me £50 a week better off a few years ago, so I speak from personal experience. Would your daughter be able to stay at the same school if she moved in with you? Maybe this would determine where you tried to find a new home? Kids are very adaptable, they need to know they are safe, secure, and loved, if your new home is a bit topsy turvy for a while, she'll cope. Maybe the school can suggest a child minder or some other help and support for you?
MH is a situation that effects and drains all involved. No one escapes. You can't always change someone with MH. You just have to except it. However, you can make your own choices. How you want to deal with it. If you were to look in at this situation from the outside. Like you are asking for views on here. What would you first think? My first thoughts were. The child is the most important. You said the crisis team are involved. So do I assume Social Services are supporting your child. If not that needs to be done immediately. Has her school be informed? Work out an emergency plan for your child as you live a distance. Try not to rush into making another life changing decision.