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Introduction to my dilema - Carers UK Forum

Introduction to my dilema

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Hi, my name is Amy. I am an 18 year old sixth former student in my final year of studies. I wouldn't particularly count myself as a carer but for whom I am with I do care for him, I am there to help during his episodes and be his biggest support system. My partner is also 18 years old and he suffers from Bipolar, psychosis and Seasonal affective disorder. I am still learning as I go how to help him but due to his last episode I have found myself in need of my own support and the need to gain more knowledge on his situation is increasing as he is getting more frequent phycosis attacks.
Before any one offers the "doctor" card as I've been told numerous times, we have been but he is also a working man. He can function with society and fights off his psychotic thoughts daily. He has been to doctors and gets helput and the is college also, however he does not want to be classed as Insane with his conditions due to his previews time in a psych-ward. He fears that due to his want to work. It's college, people and his work that keeps his attached to reality.
I am writing on his forum in hopes of getting support and supporting you guys too. Him and I have been together for almost six months and I've known him since childhood but I still have much to learn and I am very much willing to learn how to deal and help him as much I can.
Thank you
Hi Amy
Welcome to the forum and sorry you have had no replies, I nearly relplied when I first read your post but thought my advice would sound too harsh as I'm now a former carer so perhaps a bit chastened by it all.
You sound a very kind person but you are so young to comit to a lifetime of caring for a partner you have only recently got together with. Mental health problems can be some of the hardest to care for and you do have choices, you have your life before you so think carefully about the path you want for yourself.
You can always support from the sidelines without getting all consumed by it.
Hi Amy and welcome
I too think most of us carers would be very worried about anyone of 18 taking on such a big issue as unfortunately most mental health issues are very long term and need 100% effort from the sufferer but due to the nature of mental health the ups and downs mean they often ignore their health to the detriment of all around them.

I suggest you have a good read of all the posts in our mental health section
https://www.carersuk.org/forum/specific ... tal-health
and see how others cope (or not)

I understand you love this person and have known them for a long time, but due to the nature of their illness there is little you can do to help, you can't aid recovery, they have to do that and it will be a very long haul

Do they have support and help from their parents? My 24 year old still needs us and his problems are relatively mild

Hello Amy
What a sweet caring person you are! I met my husband at a young age and was married at 18. Its been a happy marriage through ups and downs. After 48 years he was diagnosed with vascular dementia and suffered strokes. I do understand that young love survives. However, and I say this apprehensively, to start out at such a young age with such problems is very worrying. I'm wondering how you will feel many years down the line.
I realise this is not what you want to hear. I do hope you get help with this difficult time. I'm honestly not an oldie who knows nothing about emotions!
Hi Amy,
Please think carefully. Write down all your dreams and aspirations, your own home, family, travel etc. etc. In a marriage/relationship it takes two people working hard together. It won't work unless you are a team. Then think carefully about how you will feel in 40 years time if none of those goals were every realised. Did your dreams really end before they were given a chance. I'm now widowed, I met my husband when I was 16, married at 19m we travekked the world, even shipped steam engines back to the UK, bought an uninhabitable cottage with an outside toilet (bucket) and did it up together.
I read a book last year which had an interesting comment. "There is always a price to pay when you love someone unconditionally". What you need to decide is whether or not that price is too high. He may be incapable of change.
Hi again Amy
Even though most of us urge you not to become a lifetime carer for this poor chap, there is no reason why you cannot be an informed and supportive friend.

The Mind website has a section for friends and family on each of the pages for various mental health disorders. Heres the link to the one for bipolar. I suggest you check out the pages for his other diagnoses too.
https://www.mind.org.uk/information-sup ... pFZ7dyny9c

It's important when supporting someone with MH to look after yourself mentally and physically. That means ensuring put your own health first, especially the emotional side as you need to be super resilient and self-confident. Counselling is helpful, as is arming yourself with knowledge about his issues.

Do stay posting on here whenever you want. We like to share the good times as well as the difficult and you don't have to be a full-time or only carer. We are here for all who love and care

Amy, what's the situation with this young man's parents? You don't mention them I think?

I'm afraid I'm joining the chorus of 'Be a friend, NOT a girlfriend'. He really can't have a 'girlfriend' until and unless he tackles his issues, and becomes able to be a 50:50 partner in any relationship. While he is so ill he needs a 'carer' (official or unofficial) he CANNOT be a 'partner'.

Relationships have to be 50:50. That's a basic rule.

What do YOUR parents think of your relationship with him? I'll tell you frankly, if you were my daughter (my son is older than you ,but still in his twenties)I would be saying 'Be a friend, but he's not ready yet to have a girlfriend'.
Respect for you. What are you studying?
I think you do need some advise and support from some experts going forward and then make your decision.But just to throws some random questions to ponder, a devils advocate if you like.

Are you willing to sacrifice your dreams and aspirations, even if you part company and never regret losing that opportunity?

Is denial a real long term solution for Bipolar? If he is fighting it daily, it isn't stable. How long can he continue? What if life gets in the way, lose your house, car, tax bills, fails his exams, you have a child - any of these can send him over the edge with stress - if he is struggling to cope NOW and fighting daily, how long can it continue?

If you have a relationship and did have a child, can you cope with a child and caring and dealing with episodes that may happen, would yo and child be safe?

If it went wrong and you parted would you blame him or yourself for you giving up career and studies? Is that fair on him? Is it fair on you?

Are you willing to be the bird in a cage? Never with him wholly as his partner, but never allowed to leave either as to leave would send him emotionally over the edge into another episode? Taking away the one he relies on.

It is a very difficult decision to make and not one I think you would be willing to look at objectively, but you need to not just for yourself, but for you both. You owe nothing to him but to be honest, Things can go terribly wrong from the best intentions. You need to ask and consider the awkward questions - you will be living the rest of your life holding a bomb in your hands. That is the best way to decribe it really. I had a friend who was bipolar and the episodes are horrendous and without reason or warning. He would run away for 6 or 7 months and live in his car. These things you need to prepare for.
Maybe you are the catalyst for him to control or get better tailored help and not the crutch you are now.

Brave girl! Hope it all works out whatever you decide. You are learning a lesson in life right now, there are no wrong answers, just an easy way and a hard way - the lesson is the same.
Hey everyone, I want to apologise for the lateness of this reply to all of you. However, I did not spend the time just sitting around. I have read your replies, I have talked to other sources for advice also and the best person I have spoken to is my head teacher. She told me that the biggest problem with looking after someone with mental health is that "You never know what you're going to come home to" This was exactly how I felt all the time and I never knew anyone could capture the worry, pain and fear in one simple sentence.
We spoke for a while about my situation at home, so she can understand my schooling dips and highs too, and I related to her some replies I have received here. I do want to thank you all for the replies as they all helped me to think and see this situation from a new perspective. I have talked to him about the fact I could leave at any time, he understood and respected that. However, I realised whilst talking to my head teacher that I didn't have to be there, that was evident. I want to be here. I want to be here for him and yes I understand the problems that follow him. I understand that a normal life is something I may not live with him, I realise my life goals, wants and needs will have to shape around him and my timetable will have to best suit his. However, I cannot leave him for I want to be the person for him at this time. I want to help him as best as I can and I understand there are a few of you whom do not agree and tell me to just get up and run from him, but would you if that was actual family? I know I have this choice more freely as he isn't blood but why would I turn from someone I hope to be family? I know his problems will be, well, problematic. But I am willing to be the person to try and get him back to stable ground or be there when he needs someone the most.

In addition to this, I have also talked to my head teacher about me and the importance of "me time". I told my partner about this and he understood, so every night before bed I have at least half an hour to myself to just unwind, read a book or do nothingness. I also have a few days in the week where he goes to work and this allows me to have more me time. I know the importance of looking after someone is looking after yourself first and so that is a step I have taken with his understanding.

Furthermore, to my delight, I am pleased to announce he has gone to his GP - making the appointment himself. He has gone to appointment already and they have told him to get his blood tested as his attacks may have given him epilepsy, which would explain the blackouts he has and so it may be a stress related epilepsy - he has already had the blood tests and we are awaiting the results.

I want to thank everyone here for their input, it may not be what I wanted to hear at first and this reply may not be what you all were expecting but I still want to thank you all for the time to look upon this post and I do hope that you all are doing well in your own way.

To reply to questions: Yes his parents know as the mothers side has a lot of mental problems that seem to just get passed down so he had to be informed of that by them. His parents are lovely and do try their best, they understand he will snap quicker than the other siblings, he is the eldest of the three with his two younger sisters being step sisters. We live with his mother and step father and his two step sisters. So, there's a few in the house but we get along.
His carer for the last 5 years was his friends who would be by him, I guess mostly his mother but for the last 6 months or so, It has been me. I am willing to do what I can for him, knowing that there is only so much I can do and I understand that I cannot control everything that happens in his day to day life but I can just be there for him. I know there will be harder days and there will be days where I'm confused as to how wonderful it is, but everyday is new and I'm always thankful to wake up to him each morning.
Finally, I am studying Chemistry, Maths and English Literature, I am in the last year of my A levels and he is in his last year of his Level 3 Extended Computer Science course.
Hi Amy, good to hear from you. It's not what we want, it's what you want that matters. You have a lovely Head Teacher! I hope everything works out well for you, and the exams go well.