22 year old caregiver for the past 2 years.
Hi, I happen to have ran across this site and thought I would ask for advice.
First off, I'm a 22 year old male majoring in electrical engineering (currently a junior) as well work as an undergraduate researcher. I've been taking care of my 47 year old mother (such as paying all of the bills, cooking food, helping her left/move anything she needs, and shopping) for the past 2 years. Although I feel extremely lucky to be able to go to college and have kept my GPA up, I feel I'm pushing my limits (physically, mentally, and emotionally).
It's probably best I explain when this started and why I am now the one helping her. Although I started helping her when I started college, my mother occasionally needed help ever since I was 12 years old and she and my father divorced. She worked primarily in aircraft (though looked for anything in the end) and was subject to layoffs more times than I can count. My sister, mother, and I never lived in a house after I was 12 and was continuesly evicted from hotels and apartments. At that time my grandfather was who helped all of us, which is something I will never forget. But even though he did his very best, there was a time that we had to live in our car and various parks. (Because I have posted this online about myself means I will probably delete my account to this site in probably a week.) Although there's much more that could be said about my family's life before I started college, I'm afraid I can't write anymore about it. By the time I applied to colleges, my mother no longer worked, her unemployment ran out, and her health (both physical and mental) diminished. When I applied to colleges, none of them was in state. At the time, I believed that this would have motivated her to change the path her life was taking. But it unfortunately didn't. I was accepted to the colleges I applied to, one of which offered nearly a free ride. But my grandfather was getting old and needed to retire, so I had a very tough decision. As this post shows, I stayed to help my mother so my grandfather no longer had to. And this is how my days of helping my mother began.
I feel I'm increasingly being pulled between different worlds. My academics in engineering are becoming increasingly demanding as I start my junior year and my work is becoming more intense. All of this is occurring while I continue to feel as if I'm keeping two lives financially together. I also plan to earn my masters and know that it will be out of state. And honestly, it does hurt knowing that I am left to be the only person to help her. She's not married, my sister lives in a different state, and my other relatives do not help. I know it's not any of my relatives problem, but I also know that I can't do this forever either. In addition, I believe my relatives refuse to help due to resentment towards her and how she has handled life.
I try to keep a partially social life. I have several friends and have been on several dates. I volunteer with a homeless and poverty group at my university (though I will never tell anyone about my life before college). I eat healthy and love to run. But when it comes to being emotionally healthy, I think I'm getting worse. I continuously distance myself from friends whenever my friendships become more personal. Although I've been on a number of dates (one of which was becoming quite serious), none of them lasted. And again, I believe this is because I am distancing myself whenever a relationship gets too personal. I believe this distancing originated from helping my mother for so long and ignoring my own emotional needs.
Well, hopefully this post was clear enough about my current position. I'm just looking for any advice from anyone who has went through similar moments in their lives. Thanks in advance for the help.