Online forum 

These forums are a place where you can ask other young people advice on dealing with tough times and share your advice on what has worked for you. Please remember that it does not replace professional advice.

Before you can post or reply in these forums, please join our online community.

You should also have a read of the community rules. Forum membership is open to anyone residing in Australia.

Join the online communityLogin to post


Topic: Is it selfish to want a break?

23 posts, 0 answered
  1. startingnew
    startingnew avatar
    189 posts
    26 July 2018

    Hi Everyone

    I work as an in-home/live-in carer (so am 'on duty' 24/7), help care for siblings (every morning for school runs, some afternoons, usually at least one day of a weekend, and school holidays i have them more often than not ) Ive also had to take on abit of a side job for a few hrs every second day as finances are really tight atm.

    I know others have it much worse than i do, so i feel really awful for even wanting a break. I was told by a few people offline that i should be spending as much time with family as possible because im lucky to have one and my aged family member wont last forever. I am grateful to have a family but with the constant caring for everyone, i feel its starting to take its taking its own toll on top of my mh and physical conditions.

    I have been a carer or a 'helper' as long as i can remember and jumped straight from school into another caring role, whilst still keeping the previous commitments and/or adding new ones. Each time i meantion something that doesnt suit my families lifestyle (mind you its only me, anyone else they are supportive of) it ends in an argument or just goes well with my inner self that says i really dont deserve or need a break so shut down.

    So im wondering if it is selfish to want to just take a few days off or try to have a day or 2 off a week? Is it selfish to want to want to see abit more than just my local area and explore other options for life rather than just caring for others? I am pretty conflicted at the moment.

    2 people found this helpful
  2. Quercus
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Quercus avatar
    41 posts
    26 July 2018 in reply to startingnew

    Hi SN,

    I have to go into a training course very soon so this is a very quick reply but an important one....

    NO.

    No it is not selfish. At all. It is normal. Utterly completely normal. Carers, parents... Whatever we are we need time for ourselves or we burn out.

    The worst risk I have seen is the risk of resenting those we care for. You can't put your life on hold for others otherwise one day do you think you might turn around and wonder when did I get to live?

    One day off a week MINIMUM! and one hour EVERY SINGLE DAY! No joke. My child health nurse calls it the hour of power.

    It is not a matter of selfishness. It is a matter of survival and preventing burn out. She actually told me that if I kept saying it sounds good in theory but it wasn't practical to do she would get my psychiatrist to write a "prescription" for an hour a day time out recharge time to give hubby.

    Will talk more when I can ok. But think about this please....

    What's wrong with being a little bit selfish sometimes?

    ❤ Nat

    5 people found this helpful
  3. Elizabeth CP
    Elizabeth CP avatar
    21 posts
    26 July 2018 in reply to startingnew

    Although my caring role is different to yours I care for my husband & my children are grown up I can totally relate. My psych tries to drum it into my head that I need a break & I need to ignore the guilty feelings. Fortunately unlike you my family also agree I need breaks. I cared for my mum for 12 years after my dad died as she was in a wheelchair. My children were young at the time. Soon after she died my husband was diagnosed with a degenerative condition so 1o years on I became a full time carer for him. I share this to let you see that I have some understanding of what it is like to be a carer.

    I have learnt the hard way that pushing yourself too far only leads to problems including physical & mental health issues & a risk of injury. I have injured myself a few times when stressed & trying to do too much t once so don't take care!!!!

    I have found speaking to Carers Australia helpful & they may be able to link you into other organisation which can help. I have been on a few activities for carers which has been good. Doing something fun with others who understand what it is like to be a carer is good. I have been given assistance & more importantly encouragement to have a break.

    It is not selfish to need a break. To keep looking after your family members you need to remain as well as possible so taking a break to look after yourself actually helps them. .

    3 people found this helpful
  4. GemAndLogan
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    GemAndLogan avatar
    2 posts
    26 July 2018 in reply to startingnew

    Hi Startingnew,

    NO!! It is absolutely not selfish to want a break.

    Carers are some of the most amazing people on the planet and they often forget to look after themselves.

    If you don't take care of yourself too, it could lead to a position where you're no longer able to care for your family- meaning that your own health could start to decline.

    When my mum was losing her fight to cancer, our family all pitched in to care for her so she could spend her last couple of weeks at home instead of a hospital. We all made sure we took turns leaving the house, even for an hour or so just to clear your head. Caring can be so intense and takes a huge toll on everyone involved.

    If you're family are unable to help, maybe even get a hired carer in for a couple of hours a week just to give you that break. I think Anglicare offer that service : )

    I would never take back caring for my mum and now that she's gone, I have no regrets about how we managed things.

    I hope that helps

    Keep up with your amazingness!!

    Lots of love

    Gem

    2 people found this helpful
  5. startingnew
    startingnew avatar
    189 posts
    26 July 2018

    Hi Nat, Gem and Elizabeth

    Thank you for your posts, i hope its ok to respond abit better tomorrow. Feeling abit out of sorts tonight so best i leave posting till tomorrow

    I really did want to acknowlege your posts to me though, i greatly appreciate it xoxo

    3 people found this helpful
  6. startingnew
    startingnew avatar
    189 posts
    27 July 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hi Nat,
    Thank you for your reply, it means a lot


    Your post did give me abit to think about esp the part about resentment. I think I head down that path sometimes but without meaning to. I have quite a few Grrr moments where I think I just want a breather from life. I get the urge to run from everything and everyone even though I know it wont solve anything.
    I do feel rather stuck and out of place for most things though because growing up (besides trauma which has made things even more complex) ive always had so many responsibilities and expectations. I really dont like to admit it but in a way I think I may be going 'sour' im not sure if that makes sense- let me know though if it doesnt and burning/already burnt out . I dont really know how to live outside being a carer or through the eyes of a carer/someone with mh issues. I guess the expectations ive always had has shaped the way I have high expectations of myself too, like im failing if im not caring, trying to help or worrying about others. When people ask me what would I like to do, I can never answer it because all ive done is horses and caring, in a way I guess its also become my comfort zone.


    'The hour of Power' is a good description. Do you mind if I ask what sorts of things you do? This is another thing im stuck on, I dont even know what to do with myself outside my roles. I can watch movies during the day when its quiet and do small amounts of artwork but other than that Im not really sure. I wanted to do abit of study but im not sure whether thats a good idea as yet.


    When my brain does stop to argue abit, I do think it sounds good and talking here to you guys im thinking a break sounds really good but how do I implement it?

    1 person found this helpful
  7. startingnew
    startingnew avatar
    189 posts
    27 July 2018 in reply to Elizabeth CP

    Hi Elizabeth


    I can relate to your story too and thank you for sharing that with me. I cared for my nan who had cancer, lung issues amongst something else but I cant remember exactly what it was so she was in a wheelchair too and needed assistance for pretty much everything, meals that she was able to eat but still nutritous.


    She passed away just over 2 yrs ago and I become pops carer a yr before nan passed away so 3 yrs now. I done lots of things for my nan though while I was in school and unpaid to help give my pop a break and my mum would help for a few hrs through the day as well.
    I get what you mean about being stressed and injuring yourself because you just dont think.


    I linked in with Young carers last yr (I am 21) but I only receive news letters and updates. They have a site but I cant seem to find much about linking in with others or supports.
    It might be worth contacting carers australia though and having a look at the site again.


    My family unfortunatly are the ones to only notice when I havent done something, like the kitchen tables a mess or I hadnt vaccumed the floor but they wont offer to help. My pop doesnt help much with the critism though, when we go to family functions he makes me sound like im not caring for him by complaining about ailments that I try to get him help for but he refuses or makes excuses for me not to organise something for him. Ive had many people come up to me and have a go at me or question pretty much everything I do and what im not doing etc. Since he is still has good cognitive function, he is still able to make his own decsions etc so I am stuck in that position where I can help but I cant unless he says yes. Its a tricky spot to be in thats for sure.
    1 person found this helpful
  8. startingnew
    startingnew avatar
    189 posts
    27 July 2018 in reply to GemAndLogan
    Hi Gem


    I am far from amazing but thank you. Usually when I think of taking care of myself I think of the basics like nutrition, hydration, hygeine but I dont usually think of a break because my thoughts always thing its selfish and am often made to feel by others that it is wrong.


    Im sorry to hear about your mum too, cancer really is tough, my nan had it too and it was hard to watch and sometimes even help even though thats what I wanted to do. Unfortunatly ive had to cover the experience of trying to save her (I called the ambulance on loud speaker while trying to help her cause pop was a mess and I was trying to get him to call mum) she lived for another 2 weeks before peacefully passing. I dont regret caring for her, it was a really tough gig though! i do have alot of good memories though and those are the ones i focus on.




    Thank you, ill have a look at Anglicare too, he is usually ok to leave for a few hrs but im usually at work or with the kids and not taking time out. im starting to see that maybe taking a break isnt as selfish as i think it is, just need to find things id like to do and how to incorporate breaks into my routine as well.
    2 people found this helpful
  9. startingnew
    startingnew avatar
    189 posts
    27 July 2018

    Oh i meant to ask, what sorts of things do you/did you like to do when you were having breaks? or how did you discover the things you liked? Ive only known caring and horses so im abit stuck on how to go about that

    and also i did have a break once or twice before but the guilt was eating at me so came back. how did you deal and work through the guilt esp to start with?

    1 person found this helpful
  10. tnb2910
    tnb2910 avatar
    1 posts
    27 July 2018 in reply to startingnew

    It is most definitely not selfish it is called Self Care and it is extremely important that you look after yourself because if you get sick or just can't cope anymore who will look after your pop. You need at least 1 day a week where you can do what you want for yourself whether it's binge watching something on netflix or reading a good book, catching up with friends etc. I also don't think it is unreasonable to take time out for a weekend away or a holiday. If your family can't support you with this find out about getting respite care for your pop so you can have the break you deserve.

    And yes you are amazing to take care of your Grandparents, I told my 19 year old daughter the other day that if I couldn't look after myself I didn't want her doing it and she thought I didn't trust her until I pointed out that she has a right to live her life the way she wants and she shouldn't spend it looking after me then proceeded to tell her that if Nan or Pop couldn't look after themselves it is the same deal they'd rather go into care than have myself or my sisters looking after them long term.

    1 person found this helpful
  11. Elizabeth CP
    Elizabeth CP avatar
    21 posts
    27 July 2018 in reply to startingnew

    After taking on full time carer role for my mum I was really stressed. I had young children including a baby. We'd moved house as we needed room for my mum. I also had been very close to my dad so really missed him. My brother decided I needed a break so he booked our family into a lovely place with bush to explore & plenty of activities for the kids. He bought mum a mobile phone & found a pouch so it could be kept on the wheelchair at all times so she could ring him for help if needed. He spent time over the weekend doing things with mum so my family could have a break without worrying about mum. It was lovely for us to be a normal family for a change & my kids were so busy having fun that I could relax & enjoy myself. I came home feeling refreshed & better able to cope A better mother, wife & carer.

    I shared this to show how much difference a break can make particularly when it is done in a way that suits your needs. I probably wouldn't have done it if my brother didn't arrange it but looking back I see how much it helped me so I could care for my mum better. Guilt is a normal but misplaced emotion!!!

    Recently a friend from church has gone out with me a few times. We both like walking & gardens so we have gone for walks in some nice parks nearby. This gives me a break from my husband. Normally when I'm with him I have to watch out for obstacles to warn him as he's blind. I have to adjust my speed to suit him so it is nice to walk with a friend & be able to chat & enjoy the environment. Perhaps you can find a friend to go out with doing something you both like or even trying something new.

    My psych encourages me to try things to learn what works because I've been a carer for such a long time & things I used to do are no longer appropriate. If something works great. If it doesn't you've learnt what doesn't work.

    1 person found this helpful
  12. Elizabeth CP
    Elizabeth CP avatar
    21 posts
    28 July 2018 in reply to Elizabeth CP

    If you are seeing a therapist or counselor I would recommend discussing the issues you are having with him. I would write down what has been happening & how it is affecting you prior to the session so you don't forget things & the therapist gets the whole picture. I have found this very helpful. The therapist can help you work out ways to deal with the issues you are facing including direct or implied criticism re how you are caring for your family members. I have exploded at times when pushed too far leaving me feeling guilty & useless & making it even harder to care for my husband. My therapist was able to help me put this into context & then helped me find strategies to avoid getting to that point. Having a neutral 3rd party to help clarify your thoughts really helps. My therapist has discussed getting breaks from caring & helped me when I was deciding what to do about work when I was struggling. Having someone to act as a sounding block really helps particularly when you can't talk freely to your family because they are too involved so can't see the whole picture whereas the therapist understands your MH issues & is invested in your long term welfare & ability to continue caring as long as you want to. I hope this helps

    2 people found this helpful
  13. startingnew
    startingnew avatar
    189 posts
    30 July 2018

    Hello tnb and thanks for your post. Welcome btw as I see your new.

    I usually thought of self care as thr basic things not so much a day off. My work at the other place is reducing heaps next week so ill have a bit more time to myself as well. I dont have any friends so makes it abit harder to get out of the house with noone and no where to go.
    Your daughters lucky to have you and be really understanding about it all as well.




    Hi Elizabeth


    Wow you had to deal with a lot! Thank you for sharing with me. The most of a break ive had was last year when I was in hospital for a yr with mh issues. I might be able to find someone to go walking with me though. Maybe someone in the local area would like a walking buddy.
    That is true, I guess what works for some doesnt always work for others. Im so use to just doing everything for others I hadnt thought about what I need/want.
    I had a counsellor but not currently, im looking for one atm but felt I needed a break from truama work. I wont be going back to truama work and the last therapist said it was trauma work or dont come back.
    Your psych sounds really good, I hope I can find one like yours!

    1 person found this helpful
  14. Elizabeth CP
    Elizabeth CP avatar
    21 posts
    30 July 2018 in reply to startingnew

    Good luck finding someone to walk with.

    I don't class being in hospital as a break & you certainly don't want to get to that point again. I can understand wanting a break from trauma work. You are more than just trauma!!! & need to look at the whole person & situation which for you includes your caring role. I hope you find a good therapist who can help you work out what will help you.

    2 people found this helpful
  15. Peppermintbach
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    Peppermintbach avatar
    44 posts
    30 July 2018 in reply to startingnew

    Hi Butterfly Wings (Startingnew) and a wave to all your caring supporters,

    Thank you so much for mentioning this thread to me. It’s moving to see you are receiving such kind and caring support here.

    I have little to add to the deep caring and collective wisdom (especially as I’ve never been a career) here at the moment but I’m just saying hello and “bookmarking” this thread for now :)

    Love always, “Dusk till dawn”

    Pepper xoxox

  16. startingnew
    startingnew avatar
    189 posts
    1 August 2018

    Thank you Elizabeth and Pepper xox

    Hi to everyone,

    well... my pops condition is worsening abit so im going to enquire more about other services that might help both myself and him in managing pain and conditions more efficiently.

    ill need to work out something for early october because i have a minor surgical procedure but will need 2 days of basically doing nothing then easing back in, then within the next 6 months ill be having another surgical procedure but more extensive than the last so will need a longer time to recover. i know i shouldnt worry about it now but the times goes rather quickly and i worry with his worsening abilities that itll be harder to get help.

    ive only found out ill need surguries in the past day so its rather unexpected.

    1 person found this helpful
  17. banjo cat
    banjo cat avatar
    7 posts
    11 August 2018 in reply to startingnew

    hang in there startingnew

    i am only a young carer but know what it is like to care for some one i have been doing it sills i wa about 11 years old so about 6 yaers now by caring for my Nanni when she come home from having her leg thaten off below the knee so yey i am her unpaid carer as my mum is soospe to be her care but thtat life my advice is you always need to look after yourself advice i should that myself . by that a hour here and there .

    1 person found this helpful
  18. startingnew
    startingnew avatar
    189 posts
    13 August 2018 in reply to banjo cat

    hello banjo cat and welcome

    thanks for your post, its lovely to meet you. your doing a fantastic job being a carer too, i hope you are taking breaks and look after yourself too xox

    1 person found this helpful
  19. startingnew
    startingnew avatar
    189 posts
    23 September 2018

    Hello Everyone

    i thought id give this thread abit of an update. i still feel very selfish and made to feel selfish whenever i need a break but i have been able to reduce things abit. i only work at the second job every 3 days now instead of every day. i make sure i get out of the house for a an hr or so or if im at home i still set aside time for myself like having a bath or doing something quielty by myself for a while.

    My pop is currently away for a few days so im getting more time to myself as well and a break for that part of my life. i still have family roles ad responsibilities but this break is good esp with study coming up as well.

    Thank you guys for encouraging and helping me to take a step or 2 in making time for myself and helping with current burnout/preventing future burnout.

    1 person found this helpful
  20. startingnew
    startingnew avatar
    189 posts
    8 October 2018 in reply to startingnew

    Hey Nat,

    if your still reading, would you mind if i ask you about something you said in your post? i think its starting to happen and wondered if you could offer some advice?

    1 person found this helpful
  21. startingnew
    startingnew avatar
    189 posts
    14 November 2018

    Hi everyone

    Im having a slight situation at home with caring, is it alright if i post what it is so i can get some perspective and some suggestions on what might help from you guys?

    1 person found this helpful
  22. Elizabeth CP
    Elizabeth CP avatar
    21 posts
    15 November 2018 in reply to startingnew
    Of course we will try to help
    1 person found this helpful
  23. startingnew
    startingnew avatar
    189 posts
    16 November 2018 in reply to startingnew

    Thank you <3

    Im going to be having surgury in january/february which means im going to need time off work- both of them. i need to stay right away from one and do very minimal for at least a week in regards to caring so im wondering what others would be trying to organise to help wiht my own recovery and to ensure my caree is ok.

    someone suggested trying to organise a district nurse? im not sure how to go about that either so if anyone has any information that would be great please

    1 person found this helpful