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New and unsure.. advice needed. - Carers UK Forum

New and unsure.. advice needed.

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
Hello, my name is Gemma and I'm 24 years old. I've joined this site just now out of desperation to ease my anxiousness and stress. My mum is a recovering alcoholic of 17 months. During my childhood and that of my 3 brothers (2 younger, 1 older) there has always been very hostile situations varying from drug and alcohol use, domestic violence and mental abuse between my mum and her previous partner, the father of my two younger siblings. My mum became pregnant with my youngest brother when i was 16 years old, the crucial age of my educational life and in all honesty the end of it. Since then I have been nothing but devoted to looking after my family, physically and emotionally. As I said I am now 24 years old with a mum who is finally bettering herself with signs of hope after a third attempt at sobriety which is brilliant, though with this comes more strain on myself. My mum is apart of an AA programme that is very demanding in that she is no longer capable of providing the motherly duties my youngest brother of 7 needs. I am very much his mother in ways of taking and picking him up from school, cooking for him, cleaning him, playing with him and just generally being there. My brother is also under observation for suspected traits of autism. Over the years I myself have became ill with stress and worry to the point were I now suffer with anxiety and depression. I am at my wits end by the fact that I am incapable of living a life I want to and being able to work because of my commitments at home. I am 24 years old and Ive never been to a club or even purchased alcohol. I don't have friends and are incredibly isolated from society. My mum due to her own commitments to her sobriety just doesn't seem to notice my pain or even acknowledge my efforts. Usually I would not feel so sorry for myself because I would never contemplate on putting my mum in a position which would force her to jeprodise her sobriety but today I am fed up and confused. I am considered a young adult carer by the charity carers together and the junction which helps those with mental illness but am i really? Do i deserve to be here asking for advice? Am i a carer?
Hi Gemma and a warm welcome to the site. First of all you are most definitely a carer! I wonder if you might be entitled to any help that you are not receiving. I presume from all the duties that you have , that you may not be in paid employment. Are you perhaps entitled to some extra financial support- do you claim Carers Allowance for instance?
Depending on where you live , your local Council may have things they can offer you or fund a break for you. There are also charities who could possibly offer support for young carers.
This web site is full of signposts to things you may not know about so take a while and have a good look through. I strongly recommend you contact the local council and request a Carers Assessment for yourself- you are most certainly a carer! so make sure you get the recognition and support you deserve.
Once you have a carers assessment you will probably come away with a list of things you weren't aware of that you may benefit from so make this a high priority.
Most of us do this caring for some time or even some years before we realise we are indeed "a carer" so you are by no means alone. Your mum and young brother are so lucky to have you.
I think it would also be a good idea to register with your GP as a carer for mum and brother. Why not make an appointment and have a chat about how stressed you are feeling. It is a good thing to get help and nothing to be afraid of. You have already taken a huge step joining the forum so follow this up and reach out for all the available help.
Dear Gemma, I'm glad you found us. You are carrying very, very heavy burdens - and without the slightest shadow of doubt your mother is exceptionally fortunate in having you as a daughter. I take it that neither your own father, nor your young brothers' father are either on the scene, or any help to you? What is happening with your older brother? Is he helping or supporting you?

It's great that your mother has finally seemed to be getting to grips with her addiction, and taking the steps she needs to get the better of it. However, as I'm sure I will not be the first to tell you, alcoholics, including recovering alcoholics, are incredibly self-centred. They may not mean to be, the person they are 'underneath' their addiction/recovery may be kind and unselfish and a good parent, but the alcohol has gone a long way to destroying that, and reducing your mother to the self-centredness she displayed when she gave herself to her addiction, and now to her recovery.

It's essential you get the support you need, and start to be able to live your own life, as you utterly deserve to do. Do AA run any support programmes for relatives of alcoholics? Sadly, I doubt you are the only young adult carer who has had to take up responsibilities for siblings because of an 'irresponsible' parent (I don't want to sound too harsh, for life may not have been kind or easy for your mother, but the brute truth is that an alcoholic parent is an irresponsible one).

On a practical front, do your brother's schools know the home situation? I hope so, because your brothers, too, are carrying burdens that may be affecting their education and their own emotional health. It is wonderful for them that they have you, and, as you say, you have had to take on a parenting role. I myself know how important this can be - my mother had MH problems, which neither she nor my father could cope with, and it meant that my older brother had to play quite a 'parental' role in my own life as a teenager in terms of emotional support and advice about life decisions.

I do hope that between us all here we can give you some of the support you need and deserve, even if it is only to reassure you that questions such as those you pose at the end of your post are totally unnecessary - YES you are a carer and YES you deserve support and YES you deserve your own life which I hope will not have to be postponed indefinitely.

Finally, this may sound an odd question, but what does your mum do all day? If she is not drinking now (which I hope is the case??), why is it not possible for her to do some of the things you are doing, such as house cleaning, or collecting your brother from school, or, at the very least, doing these things with you? What is it about the AA programme that is so demanding of her time? (Sorry if that's a daft question!)

All the very best to you - kind regards, Jenny
Hi Gemma and a very warm welcome
Of course you are a carer, bless you - all of those things going on in your life, of course you deserve to be here.
I do hope you find it helpful, you really do deserve to get some help so that you can live your own life too. Please feel free to join in any of the discussions, though if you want to ask something specific about your situation it may be better to start a new topic.
:)
Hello Gemma & welcome to the forum.

Yes you most certainly are a carer & in a very challenging caring role.

The harsh reality is that your Mum will be spending 100% of her time, energy & thoughts in fighting her addiction & will have little left for anything else including you & your siblings.

She'll be what's called a 'dry drunk', which isn't a nice term but nevertheless is an accurate one, whereby she isn't drinking but is always thinking about drinking & wanting a drink.

It's also quite common for recovering alcoholics to spend all their time in bed or at least shut away in another room.

Partners of recovering alcoholics often say that there's little to choose between the actual drunk & the dry drunk as they both present their own different but equally enormous challenges.

Most recovering alcoholics could, if asked, tell you to the actual minute when they had their last drink even if it was 20 years ago e.g. I'm Fred & I haven't had a drink for 5 years, 10 months, 2 weeks, 1 day, 5 hours & 50 minutes.

You need specialist support & contact with people who know what you're dealing with so I'd suggest a good starting point would be, if you haven't already done so, to contact your nearest Al-Anon group who also have a young teenage branch, Al-Teen which may help your siblings.

If you want to ask me something that you'd rather not appear on the forum then please use the message function to contact me.

Please accept my best wishes for your future.

http://www.al-anonuk.org.uk/
Dear Gemma

It sounds like Caarvan knows the drill on recovering alcoholics, and I would definitely second his recommendation to seek specialist advice and support from organisations like Al-Teen.

This may not be 'welcome' news, but one 'positive' aspect of the situation you are in is that you will have become a very strong young woman, with an emotional maturity that more 'carefree' young people don't have. I say this because I know that is true of my son, a few years younger than you, who lost his dad to cancer when he was only 15. And I think, too, it was to an extent true of myself and my brother, because of our mother's MH problems.

I don't exactly 'advise' young people to endure trauma and family stress as a deliberate 'strengthening' method (!!!!!), BUT please do recognise that coping with what you have had to cope with, and dealing with problems that should NOT be on your shoulders, or your siblings shoulders, will have made you a stronger person.

That said, 'just because' you are now a stronger person than your more 'carefree' peers, does not mean you 'should' go on having to shoulder such burdens. You deserve support, and you most definitely deserve your share of a 'carefree' life.

How does your mum regard you, may I ask? I do hope she appreciates EVERYTHING you are doing for her, in taking on the responsibilities for your siblings that you have. Even if she is still too incapable of taking on those responsibilities, I do very very much hope she knows what a treasure she has in you, and is as warmly grateful to you, and loving and affectionate to you all. She is, as I say, a very, very fortunate woman to have a daughter like you. :)

Wishing you all the very best - kind regards, Jenny.
Oh my, thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Each and every one of your posts are truly appreciated and what I would just like to say before I address you all individually is that you're all absolutely incredible. It is a relief and so nice to receive such a warm welcome when Ive been nothing but anxious and embarressed about my situation being at all worthy of your time. You're all an inspiration and I can only hope to be as helpful and considerate as yourselves towards future newcomers to the site.

Hello Henrietta, I do not claim carers allowance no. This is because I don't believe I am entitled to do so given I do not meet the stated requirements listed on the gov.uk website. My mum is in receipt of ESA (employment and support allowance) in the support related group. I myself receive the same too only in the work related group. It is however something I haven't actually discussed with someone therefore I'm not entirely sure that I would not qualify, i'm just going off my own assumptions. Thank you very much for your kind words and advice.


Hi Jenny, my mother and father split when I was three years old and I don't have anything to do with him, the father of my younger siblings is just involved to an extent of maintaining contact with his children which I absolutely respect, despite his volatile relationship with my mum in the past he is a great dad. My older brother however is not so great. He is 26, earning £1200 a month and still living at home with us. He is very much all for himself and doesn't provide support whatsoever. I don't think he knows how to. As caravanj has said yes i am aware of al-anon, though at the moment I have a mix of emotion wether or not to try it out. That and it just seems impossible given that my local meeting runs the same time as my mums AA. My youngest brothers school are aware my mum is a recovering alcoholic yes, they're not concerned, only with as I mentioned his suspected of traits of autism. Lastly no, my mum is not currently drinking. What keeps her so busy is that the AA programme she is apart of also have a retail business selling electric cigarettes, this is I believe to preocupy them, give them a sense of purpose and re-engage them with society at a comfortable and controlled pace. From my mums perspective it is no doubt an absolute god send and I am thrilled at what she has accomplished so far (she is running one of the shops by herself and is soon learning to drive!) but unfortunately it is at the expense of myself with her barely being home bar 4 hours max before bedtime, less most of the time. Thank you for your lovely words, I greatly appreciate it. :)

Hello crocus, thank you very much. :)

caravanj, thank you so much for the advice, I recognise a lot of what you have said through the words of my mums sponsor. As I mentioned i'm currently on the fence about joining an al-anon group at the moment, I wanted to try and focus more on getting myself on track to where I want to be in life but its proving impossible to do so alongside my mums recovery. Al-anon may be my only option to maintain some sanity soon enough. Thank you for your words. :)

Hi again, Jenny. I don't believe I'm all that strong, whenever I try to express my feelings towards my mum I burst into tears, or even just thinking about doing so! I'm not entirely sure if my mum appreciates what i do or not. A lot of the time it seems like she doesn't acknowledge my efforts at all which is sometimes frustrating and upsetting. Deep down though, I know my mum has a beautiful soul and I believe it may just be too painful for her to bare.

Thank you all once again. :)

Gemma.
Hi Gemma, good to hear from you again. :)
Im so glad that your mum has an interest that she is doing well at, although it is a shame that she isnt at home much. Its also a pity about the timing of Al-Anon as I think you would find it helpful. Is there no-one who could cover for you while you are there?

I suspect that you are stronger than you think. If you are unable to express your feelings in the real world, you can always tell us and we will listen. The nice thing about forums is that if you need to shed a few tears you can pause and no-one will know ;)

xx
Gemma_1504 wrote: It is a relief and so nice to receive such a warm welcome when Ive been nothing but anxious and embarressed about my situation being at all worthy of your time. You're all an inspiration and I can only hope to be as helpful and considerate as yourselves towards future newcomers to the site.

Hello Henrietta, I do not claim carers allowance no. This is because I don't believe I am entitled to do so given I do not meet the stated requirements listed on the gov.uk website. My mum is in receipt of ESA (employment and support allowance) in the support related group. I myself receive the same too only in the work related group. It is however something I haven't actually discussed with someone therefore I'm not entirely sure that I would not qualify, i'm just going off my own assumptions. Thank you very much for your kind words and advice.

Hi again, Jenny. I don't believe I'm all that strong, whenever I try to express my feelings towards my mum I burst into tears, or even just thinking about doing so! I'm not entirely sure if my mum appreciates what i do or not. A lot of the time it seems like she doesn't acknowledge my efforts at all which is sometimes frustrating and upsetting. Deep down though, I know my mum has a beautiful soul and I believe it may just be too painful for her to bare.

Thank you all once again. :)

Gemma.
Hello Gemma,

I've edited your post to contain the bits to which I want to reply.

Firstly you've nothing to be embarrassed about, you'd be amazed at the scale of alcohol & other substance abuse addiction & also the range of people it affects.

The term alcoholic conjours up a mental vision of a bloke slumped in a shop doorway which, whilst it applies in some cases, couldn't be further from the truth in the vast majority of cases as it affects the complete strata of society.

Regarding your benefits I would urge you to have a benefits assessment done by Citizens Advice or similar organisation.

I have no doubt that your Mum will appreciate what you do but the problem she has is in facing it because it just reinforces her exisiting feelings of both guilt for her actions & of what she will see as being a failure as a Mum to you.

Alcoholics, when in recovery & not drinking themselves to oblivion, are acutely aware of the damage, chaos & trail of emotional destruction that they leave in their wake & they cope by blanking it out which is, to my mind, probably the only way that they can deal with it.

Best wishes to you

P.S. In your first post you commented on your education ending when you were 16 but your posts are well presented & you're obviously very articulate & intelligent so there's no reason why you shouldn't resume your education as a mature student in the future when circumstances permit you to do so.
Just a vary quick reply and I admist I haven't read the other replies thoroughly as in a bit of a rush so apologies if duplicating things.
Without meaning to pry- why do you think you wouldn't qualify for Carers Allowance.
Is it because you are earning more than the earnings limit, or because you think you are not providing enough care?

Secondly I did read the end of Caravans post and completely agree. People return to education at all sorts of ages and you have many years ahead of you so please don't feel that you have missed the boat. I expect you have learnt far more being thrown in the deep end at home than your peers have sitting in the classroom.