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To feel so desperate?(29 Posts)
Hi. I am not your typical user of Mumsnet, being a 32 year old man. My situation seems so desperate though, and I was wondering if I could have some impartial advice on how to move forward. All views are welcome.
I am currently living between the houses of my mother and my long term partner ( a much older man with mental health/alcohol related issues) in a small town in a fairly deprived part of South West England. I have some physical limitations due to right hemiplegia (a form of cerebral palsy). This means I can't drive, as I would need adaptations and special lessons, but cannot afford them as not eligible for government help due to not receiving mobility component of disability living allowance.
I am working as Front of House at a local art gallery, museum and tourist information centre. This is low paid, and only 21 hours a week, so it is difficult for me to save anything. The area has very few non- manual jobs, so I am lucky to have this.
My life history is as follows: I was raised by a single mother on benefits after my parents split up shortly after my diagnosis (at 10 months). My mother then went to university etc, and became an infant teacher when I was in my early teens. However, she is very bitter about the way her life turned out (no new partner etc.) and blames me. In anger she will call me spastic, cripple etc, and say I ruined her life as no man would be interested in a woman with a disabled child. However, conversely she is very dependent on me, and is constantly trying to engineer me being with her, saying you wouldn't manage alone etc.
Anyway, I did well academically at my local secondary school, getting top grades and getting a place to study English at Cambridge. I think I did we'll academically as I would type my mother's essays etc for her, and was socially awkward and rejected due to the disability.
When I went to Cambridge I struggled psychologically and I was very unhappy. I also started a relationship with my partner, and at the end of the first year I left and returned to my home town. I then lived with my partner, who had a severe drink problem (four to six litres of cider a day) and my lack of self-esteem meant I let the situAtion continue (he would go out drinking and then rant and rave at me). He has recently tried to address the drinking, but is long term unemployed with severe depression.
Anyway, when I was 25 I decided things had to change, and was lucky enough to be allowed to return to Cambridge. I worked hard and got a first, which I was chuffed with. It was hard for me to go back, as my mother expected me to take care of her dogs (this situation is ongoing - I am expected not to go out when I am not at work as 'what about the dogs?'
I was thus very pleased to have my degree, and quickly did a Celta course (tefl qualification) in Italy. This was ok, but I developed severe angioedema and missed my partner, so came back to Devon.
I then did tefl work in the area in the summer and was on jsa the rest of the time (which suited my mother, as I could take care of her dogs etc). I was also dealing with my partner's drinking and suicide attempts, and also broke my hip in the winter of 2009.
I decided for my self esteem I needed regular work, which is when I got my present job. However, this job doesn't allow me proper autonomy etc, being part-time with no prospects. I do ok, but it is low level and is now making me feel worse about myself.
I would do anything to escape. I am also financially supporting my partner (he has suffered from atos healthcare assessments) and weirdly my mother. I had saved some money, but she broke her back in December ( a stable fracture, and she will get better in time). I've had to buy her clothes, shopping, vet bills, cigarettes as she can't get out. This is upwards of £1000 I have spent. I have asked her for it back, but she just laughs in my face and says I was a mug for using my card. Her school is undergoing restructuring and her job is possibly at risk, but she has a damn sight more money than me. Instead, she accesses my amazon account and buys stuff on it.
I really want to escape, but my self-confidence is shot. I now have very few friends and no support. I did go and see a friend in London last year and applied for jobs there, but no luck (due to where I live perhaps, and a patchy cv). I would like to try to get into a career in social work, but can't find work related to make me eligible. I also don't know how to fund the conversion course. If anyone has any advice, I would be so grateful ( thank you for reading this long and messy post). I would seek mental health support, but there are no resources in my area, and I don't want to take anti ds in case it deepens my apathy/inertia.
Sorry. I haven't checked my messages for a few days. I just posted this message to my university supervisor to see if he had any advice. I am trying to contact as many people as possible, as I really feel I need help to be able to get out of the hole I am in. Here it is:
How are you? It seems strange that it is over five years since I finally completed my degree at King's, and I really appreciate the extremely useful help that you gave me when I completed that final year.I hope all is well both in your life and at King's.
I am actually writing because I know that when Jonathan experienced some difficulties you kindly gave him some advice, and I was wondering if you could give me some advice on my own situation. I recognise that you are extremely busy, so please don't worry if you have no insights or ideas as to what I could do.
Essentially, I guess the best thing to do is give you a sense of what I have done and my life situation in the past five years. After I left King's, I went to Italy and took a CELTA course to allow me to do TEFL teaching. This went fine, but while I was there I developed a weird autoimmune disorder that meant my face and lips became hugely swollen. As I was stressed by this situation (and teaching teenagers at the time - which wasn't much fun with facial swelling) I then returned to England after 4 months both to seek medical treatment and because I felt poleaxed by the whole situation. The medical treatment for what was wrong with me - Melkerrson-Rosenthal Syndrome - was convoluted and long, but I am much better now.
After this, I basically got trapped in the same dynamics that had screwed me up in early adult life (hence my earlier problems at university). This involved being in a difficult relationship with someone with an alcohol problem and depression, and dealing with my mother, who is very dependent on me and wants me to support her psychologically and financially. I know I should never have gone back to this situation, and I knew it at the time, but I did. I then worked in TEFL jobs in my local area for 2 years, ibut these were temporary and seasonal, so I alternated between working and being on job seeker's allowance at the time. My psychological state had become so skewed that I felt anxious about seeking fulltime work as my mother's expectation was that I would stay at her house to look after her dogs, and when I did work I was expected to organise and fund care for them. My work was also fairly grim - doing TEFL courses with no resources apart from a whiteboard for a slightly sketchy company that provided courses for 11-18 year old French students. I did become the Senior Tutor for these courses, but it still involved working for only about a third of the year.
Two years into this, I decided that this couldn't continue, and applied for a job in a local art gallery and got it. This was only part-time(21 hours), and it was only a Front of House role, but I did get it. However, before I started, in December 2009 I broke my hip on ice, and was out of action for four months. I then did start the job (they had kindly kept it open for me) but it is low-paid administrative work, with no possibility for advancement. I am still doing this role now, and I am living between my mother's house and my partner's flat.
After a year at the art gallery (which I saw as meaning I at least had a period of sutained work I could put on my CV) I applied to do a PGCE, more out of desperation than a great desire bto teach. They must have recognised this, because I didn't get through the interview process (which I am not particularly sad about to be honest). As my social network and support systems were vanishingly small, in 2012 I then renewed contact with friends of mine in London, and tried to apply for jobs there. Unfortunately, being based in North Devon and with a limited CV, I couldn't get anywhere, receiving no interviews. I also looked at law conversions, but they are crazily expensive. I also waws not able to move lock, stock and barrel to London, as I had nowhere to stay and my financial situation was (and is) dire. I earn about 150 a week, and have found myself in the position of giving some to my mother and some to my partner.
Also, last December my mother broke her back (a stable fracture, and she should recover fully). I have had to be her main carer, and it is only in the last couple of weeks I have been able to leave her for a full day. Even when she could move independently, I had to do the shopping, clean, walk dogs, get medicines etc. This has obviously been pretty horrible, and I have also had to deal with my partner's breakdowns due to ATOS Healthcare work capability assessments etc. I had saved a couple of grand so if I did move to London, Bristol, Cambridge or another city, I would have a start up fund, but things like my mother's shopping, her cigarettes, clothes and vet bills have meant that this money has gone. I have asked for the money back (she is a teacher), but she feels hard done by life and refuses, essentially laughing in my face and saying 'You're the mug who spent the money...' etc. She constantly calls me incapable and says I will never amount to anything and the like, which is obviously an index of her own unhappiness.
I clearly see that it is key that I get out of this situation, and I guess that involves leaving my job and moving to a city. Given that I don't drive (need an adapted car and special lessons, but i'm not disabled enough to receive government help) there are certainly no jobs in my local area (area with lowest average wage in the country) that I can get. In a city, I would have many more options. However, I need work to make a move possible. I haven't got anywhere to stay, although I do have friends in London, Glasgow and Cambridge (Jonathan). I have looked at doing a social work MA, but you need relevant experience. Many low paid social care jobs are not within my physical capabilities, and in my local area the only relevant voluntary role I could find was working at a church-run foodbank, which probably isn't that applicable. In a city, even if I was doing low-paid admin work, I would have many opportunities to pursue voluntary roles, if I decided that that was what I wanted to do. I suppose one thing I'm asking is if you know of any jobs I could go for in Cambridge (or other cities)? Or if you can see another way forward for me? At the moment, any and all perspectives are welcome, as I don't see how I can leave my job and move, with no likelihood of finding another job. Also my confidence and self-worh (always tenuous) are basically shiot to pieces.
Anyway, I'm really sorry for this awfiul rant, and please feel no obligation to reply. I am just trying every avenue at the moment to move forward. Despite my shitty situation, most of the time I feel relatively sane (although obviously down and feeling under attack - for example, writing this email has been difficult with my mother hanging around to see what I'm doing and saying 'You're horrible' because I'm not engaging with her or paying her attention). My partner would certainly intellectually support me in making changes I think, so that is one less thing for me to worry about.
God, I really have splurged haven't I? Again, I hope all is good with you. It would be great to see you again sometime.
Was this a crazy thing to have done?
Not at all! Ask ask ask for help. Nothing wrong with that. Could you stop giving other people money and spend it on private therapy?
Your 32 with loads of life in front of you and you are so capable of getting out of this situation. You've already started :-)
Just thought I'd say thank you to everyone who commented on my situation. I'm moving to London in a week to work for a homeless charity ( well, actually as a volunteer, but I get accommodation and food). So, I'm very excited and I am going to try my very best to use this opportunity to permanently escape what has been a very difficult situation. Anyway, thanks again everyone for your perceptive and insightful comments - having external views enabled me to be more objective and organised in seeking to change my life situation.
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