Teenager taking care of disabled Mom alone. Any advice?

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Let me start with I am 15 years old. For the past 7 months I have been taking care of my recently disabled mother. In July my mom got diagnosed with a rare auto immune disorder that rendered her arms and legs (practically) completely useless. I couldn't leave her home alone and had to drop out of school to take care of her, she's a diabetic with a very bad pressure ulcer and I kept coming home to the house trashed from her trying to make herself food and falling so it was clear I needed to be home more. The doctors have her on a ton of steroids and a recovery time of at least 2 years and a full recovery is not promised I started online classes but we couldn't pay for it once she was forced to leave her job and we're currently waiting on her disability check. Anyway, I'm now in night school and my online credits couldn't be transferred so I now have to take summer school as well. I'm so physically and emotionally exhausted, I now drive her everywhere, I do all grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, all important calls to doctors and lawyers, I even have to cut up her meat for her.

Everyone tells me that I'm so brave and such a good person but I don't want to be anymore!! My mom refuses to get a home health nurse, it makes her feel uncomfortable, and also doesn't want to go to assisted living though it has been offered to her on several occasions. We have no family here, so I'm doing this myself, I have no friends, no one to talk to about any of this. She also takes her anger out on me, she's shoved me, rammed her walker into my legs, yells at me all the time about all the things I do wrong. I just don't want to do this anymore. We plan to move closer to family later this year, her health permitting but I know its still going to fall on me. I feel like im honestly taking care of a toddler, when she's angry she throws her drinks and screams and cries and I know it's mostly because she's angry at her illness and not me but I can't take it.

I'm also scared for my future, I want to go to the university of Miami, its my dream school, but this summer school is really going to set me back and I'm scared that my mom won't be better in time for me to go to college. She's even asked me to consider online classes during college so I can stay home and take care of her. I'm scared that this is all my life will ever be, taking care of my mother until she dies. I get these sick thoughts that I wish she would die just so I wouldn't deal with this pressure and her tantrums and I would actually have a life again. I WOULD NEVER HURT HER OR GIVE HER SECOND RATE CARE THOUGH. Just saying. I cry almost every night and I just want to scream at her that I'm trying my best but I'm just 15. I only have my license because she's disabled, I'm not old enough to get a job. I feel like I'm 30 years old with a baby, I have to feed her, dress her, help her go to the bathroom. I do everything and it all happened so quickly my head is spinning. Its not even like I can take a break, I have no friends to unwind with and no one to leave my mom with.

There isn't much on the internet for kids like me taking care of sick parents so I figured I'd post here for advice and help and for someone to just tell me it's going to be okay i guess. And please don't suggest I talk to her about it, I've tried and she ended up guilt tripping me on how much worse she has it. Thank you for listening to my rant and I appreciate any words of wisdom you could give me.

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Your poor mother. She really does it have a terrible situation to contend with. And she must be partially out of her mind, because no sane mother would let a child (let alone expect a child) to give up her current life and her future this way. I am so sorry for her. I hope she eventually recovers from this terrible disability.

But meanwhile you have to do your best to look out for your needs. You need to go to school. You need to have time to study. You need to keep up your grades so you will get into the college of your choice. You need to socialize. You need to hang out with friends. These are not luxuries that you are unreasonably asking for. These are necessities you deserve.

A home health nurse makes your mom feel uncomfortable? Tough cookies! I am sorry, but expecting you to sacrifice for her "comfort" is totally unreasonable. You did not cause her disease. None of this is your fault. I am truly sorry for your mother, but she needs to suck it up and do what she has to do to have a chance of recovering.

Contact APS. Tell them that your mother needs extensive care and that you cannot provide it. You want to see her cared for and getting well. Can they help arrange that? She should not be alone so much, but you have to go to school. If your mother will never forgive you for this, then, I'm sorry, she really isn't much of a mother, is she? But I suspect that her current un-motherly attitude is tightly tied to her disease. She probably can't help it. Forgive her. Love her. And do what is right for her and for you. Get an adult in a professional role who can help you both.
Others have posted on here about FOG.. the Fear, Obligation and Guilt our parents subject to as caregivers. Our parents can tie us in knots and push our buttons even when we are much older than you. You need to accept the reality that you can't keep doing this. Have you considered that your mom may be better of with more professional care? Even though she is resistant, sometimes we just have to do what is best for everyone, and I think that means getting your mom into assisted living and you back to school.
I'm new here but created an account to say this. PLEASE do not take on this responsibility all by yourself. My mother was diagnosed with a chronic illness when I was 5. By the time I was 15 I was driving illegally to do all the grocery shopping, taking care of my siblings and my dad as well as taking care of my mother. My dad divorced my mother and told me she was my problem to take care of, which I did for the next 30 years! I'm now 50 years old, unmarried and basically gave up my life to take care of my mother till she passed away 12 years ago. And now it's starting again as my 80 year old dad expects me to care for him as well.

Please accept what help is out there! Go to college and make a life for yourself! APS is there to help her and you will always care about her but the expectation that you were put on this earth to take care of your mother to the detriment of your own life is wrong. I really regret taking over the care of my mother at such a young age and if I could do it over again I wouldn't have. The adults around me should have stepped in to take over.

My mother was oblivious to the fact that I didn't want to give up my life to take care of her. She just assumed we were "pals" for life. I was in my 30's before I voiced my displeasure. You need to emphasize that you're looking our for BOTH your futures not just hers. You have every right to your own future!!!!
Shelby, I have bipolar disorder and take anti-depression medicine and a mood stabilizer and although I'm on full disability, but not disabled like your mother, I would never instill in my children the fear your mother has instilled in you.

Such fear is the fruit of emotional blackmail and abuse via fear of making the person angry or hurt, an abundant sense of obligation to overlook things that most people to not overlook and take action about and then guilt for even thinking of taking the kinds of actions you need to take for your own well being and the well being of your mother although she might get angry which it sounds like she is already. This emotional blackmail is also responsible for you feeling guilt for writing the post. You may not realize it or may not want to believe it but your mother is not functioning like a loving mother would sick or not sick. She's controlling you and emotionally blackmailing you which is a form of verbal and emotional abuse.

One thing that your really need to realize that in this situation you are the one with all of the real power and not your mother. She wants you to be afraid of the limited power that she has that can only get angry and make throw a thing or two at you but from your description earlier it does not sound like her arms are all that strong to throw all that well and her legs sound so weak that she can't chase you around the house. Nope, the fact is your mother is totally dependent upon you. She can't afford to not have you under control because then who would she be able to depend upon? No one! I hope you let it sink in that you have the power and have no real need to be afraid of your mother or of where you will end up once adults who are professional from APS are called in. People here are trying to help you, but there are things you must do to help yourself with the advice and support we are trying to provide you.,

I'm glad that you had the courage to write this post and I believe you have the courage to call APS to help, not to rat on your mom.

You have plans to move yourself and your mother out of state to some out of state relatives who don't realize how bad off your mother is? Have you told them in plain detail how totally disabled she is and what he current disposition is now? If they don't grasp the seriousness of how needy she is, that is not fair to them and the might not give you the help that you are looking for.Plus,your mother does not need more family members taking care of her. In her condition she needs professional care from adults. If you move yourself and your mother out of state, you will loose the power to have and live your own life, plus have a future.

You basically have two choices.

1. To not call and hope no one ever comes by from CPS or otherwise learns what is really going on inside your house while things get worse and worse in hopes that one day things will just get better on their own and move to another state which is only a way of running away from your problems instead of dealing with them which is not a very grown up approach to life.

2. Your other choice is to make a call to APS and tell them what is going on with your mom, and that you at 15 have the responsibilities of the entire household and your mother's care resting on your shoulders with is not sustainable.

I think everyone on this thread would agree, please make the call if not today, do it on Monday. You are not in a healthy or safe emotional, relational environment. Do something that will help and save both your mom and yourself. You may not feel like you are valuable enough to take care of yourself, but you are!

Please keep posting, keep venting and keep in touch!


Yes, and child protective services. I am with magnum on this one. You are far too young for this sort of responsibility. Is there a law in your state that children under 16 must be in school? At least that is the way I thought it was. If you dropped out, do they then consider you truant? You need to be in school. Let APS know you have every intention of finishing school, so they will have to figure out how to deal with your Mom.

Do you have any out of state relatives that would help you get back in school and provide a home for you?

Tell Mom that she does not have a choice in you returning to school. She wants you to care for her at the cost of YOUR future, or maybe she is not thinking about it that way. Have you tried having a rational, calm discussion with her. I find it hard to understand why a parent would want a teenager caring for them.
I am a foreigner and do not understand how a 15 year old can drop out of school in these circumstances without being referred automatically to Child Protection. The child is fifteen. The mother is mentally ill and physically disabled. What the heck is going on that there hasn't already been meaningful intervention?

Shelby, the last thing I want to do is patronise you, but look at the legal implications here. At 15, you do not have the legal ability to consent to this living arrangement, or to be held responsible for your mother's welfare. It's out of your hands. I don't care what your mother has to say to you about it, the authorities have responsibilities to both of you. Take advantage of that.
Shelby, as a caregiver, if you are afraid of your charge, the situation has to change. Additionally, children should not be afraid of their parents. Your mother is apparently mentally ill. This an inappropriate living situation for you.
You poor thing, what your mother is expecting of you is totally unreasonable. You must contact APS and CPS as soon as possible. For one thing she is abusing you by yelling and hitting you with her walker. For God's sake you are 15!!! I agree with all of the other posts - you CANNOT sacrifice your life for hers! Someone needs to step in and be the adult here (you are a teenager, and a young one at that). Where the h*ll is your family? If the cannot, or will not help you, you must rely on agencies like CPS to protect you, and your mama has to go to either a NH (nursing home) or AL (assisted Living). At this point you need to be protected from her and you deserve a chance at life and fulfilling your dreams. Her expecting you to take care of her and be abused by her is just flat out wrong. I really don't care if she's uncomfortable with outside help or being placed somewhere where she can be taken care of. This situation is just so wrong on so many levels that I'm stunned. I can't believe her doctor or the hospital released her into your care. What are they thinking???? I'd call her doctor and explain the situation in the bluntest terms possible, including the abuse, you need help NOW. Oh my, I will pray for you, I'm almost 60 and caring for my mom was hard on me, but to be 15 and have other adults expect you to do it is just wrong. Please keep posting and let us know, this site gives great advice. Lindaz.
Shelby, it must be tearing you up thinking about "ratting out" your own mother. You have a history with her. You love her. She no doubt loves you to the extent that she is able. How could you betray her? It is terrible to contemplate.

This is not betrayal. This is not ratting her out to get her in trouble. It is trying to find help for her and for you.This is NOT remotely like a teenager being disgusted with his curfew and calling authorities to make trouble for his parents. This is a mature and thought-out attempt to fix a very dysfunctional situation. I hope you can understand this distinction -- and convince your conscience!

I also understand that you'd be scared where you'll wind up. If you have out-of-state relatives who are willing to help out, perhaps that is where you'll wind up. Does that seem a viable solution? With your level of maturity and level-headedness I'm pretty confident you'll make the most of where ever you wind up. And can it be much worse than the situation you are in now?

Your mother is mentally ill. Not her fault. She now has a rare condition that has disabled her. Also not her fault. Nobody here wants to see your mother punished. We all want to see this situation improved for both your sakes.

Does the night school have a counseling office you could go to to discuss this situation?

APS and CPS are pretty scary options. But you are in a very scary situation. Something must be done.

I don't know how I would react if I was in your situation. I am 38 and finding it hard to take care of a family member, you being only 15 is amazing, and alarming. I agree with the other posters that you should call APS and not look back. I have come to terms with the fact that you have to do what's best for your loved one, not what they want. Your mother might be upset and angry with you, but you have to take into consideration your safety, both mental and physical. Much love and prayers go out to you and I hope you find the help you need in this difficult time.

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