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Caring for unwell mother, whilst also trying to keep myself mentally well, not sure if I’m coping?

Community Member

My mother has recently been diagnosed with cancer, she is extremely tired after 4 weeks of Radiation, she’s lost about 10 kg and still not really wanting to eat although says she does want to get better?
I adore her and have cried and cried so much, however I am getting better with coping and only breakdown occasionally and always in private.
It’s so hard because on one hand I know how exhausted and tired she is, and on the other hand it looks as if she’s giving up, by not wanting to eat or do anything. I feel guilty at times because of the frustrating circumstances, I am realistic and know she has to die one day, but I know she doesn’t want to go yet. She is living with me at present with the hope she can go home ASAP. I am also exhausted, with 3 jobs, looking after her and the rest of the family and also all the work required to keep a household going, ie: cooking, cleaning etc.
The other problem is she doesn’t want anyone else to know what’s going on, my family think she‘s having treatment for a benign condition, I don’t have anyone to be there for me and it looks like I’m being a spoilt brat when I say how exhausted I am. I don’t even know what I want or need from this forum, maybe just a way of venting my feelings and experiences. I will be by her side no matter what throughout this journey, but I’m worried now ,(after today, a particularly hard day), about my mental health, I did feel an urge to go down a familiar path of self harm to help me cope.
I am constantly trying to use my DBT skills to prevent this, but I am human and can’t practice them all the time.

I’ll sign off now, (trying to get an early night). Thanks for these forums and for reading my post when you can.

Kindest regards


8 Replies 8

Hey Jules292, thank you for sharing your journey with us on the forums tonight. We send our deepest condolences to you and your mother and want to acknowledge how stressful and saddening your circumstances must be. It sounds like you're trying so very hard to support your mother but it's taking a toll on your mental health. We're so sorry to hear that you've been feeling that you need to punish yourself. Is there something that has helped you to curb self-harm behaviour in the past? Please know that you're not alone and there will be members of this community who relate to what you are describing.

We would urge that you seek professional support to help you work through these urges that you're experiencing. If you are not sure of how to access mental health support, please contact the Beyond Blue Support Service anytime on 1300 22 4636 or get in touch with us on Webchat 3 pm-12 am AEST here: www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport One of the friendly counsellors can offer you some support but also provide you with advice and referrals for seeing a counsellor in a more ongoing way. Please feel free to keep us updated here on your thread with what you are feeling and experiencing whenever you feel up to it.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello Jules,

I am deeply sorry that your mother has been diagnosed with cancer...My heart goes out to you..

Its very hard and exhausting, nursing a loved one going through the treatments involved with cancer...

You are going through such a hard time caring for you mum, and everyone else..no wonder your exhausted and struggling your mental health..

Please don’t think your a spoilt brat..The exact opposite in my eyes, your selflessly giving your time for your family...

Jules are you receiving any professional help for your mental health...It’s so important to look after yourself the best you can....Our lovely Sophie has given you our support line..the trained counsellors are really gentle, helpful and calming to speak to..Please if you start feeling overwhelmed could you please ring them..They care..

You have us here dear Jules..I know it’s not the same as having your family know about your mum and the support they can give you...but we do care about you and will be here to talk to you when you need or feel up to it..

my kindest thoughts with care for you, your mum and your family ..

Sitting with you Dear Jules...holding your hand in friendship and care..


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

HI Jules,

I feel for you going through this insidious disease afflicting your mother. I lost my mother to cancer and can relate to the complete upheaval required of you to keep it together.

After 4 weeks of radiation therapy, your mother will be pretty knocked about physically, and her return to appetite and weight gain will take time - nothing to do with her giving up, just can't find the desire to eat. Have you been recommended any meal substitute drinks to compensate? All she needs at the moment is rest and time to recover.

With your 3 jobs and other obligations, you are running yourself ragged. Can you request compassionate grounds for time off some jobs at least? You need this to keep your wits about you while your mother gets back on her feet again.

Although you have been asked to keep this confidential, I would encourage you to at least involve your partner for your own moral support and also so he could take on some of your family responsibilities with a better understanding of the emotional strain you are under.

You are doing the best you can and everybody should pitch in. When my mum was sick, I did the shopping and made meals that could be frozen. I found cleaning actually therapeutic as it took my mind off wandering thoughts and provided a positive environment during recovery.

Sorry for giving 'advice' but just some thoughts on helping you cope.



Community Member

Thanks for your support, I just don’t think I can cope! I would take her suffering in a minute. I don’t think I’m strong enough but know I have to be. I don’t know what to do or how I’m going to cope!


You could contact carer gateway or carers Australia. Google these to get relevant contact details for your area. I have found them very supportive & if you explain your situation they can help find supports to help you in your role as a carer. This is important as you don't have family support due to the confidentiality issue. Caring is difficult particularly in your situation with no support & worrying about your mum's health Having someone who understands & you can discuss things with to work out strategies to be able to cope may make a difference. Good luck

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Jules,

I hear you are sounding quite overwhelmed with this right now.

Would you consider the possibility of your mother being cared for in a Rehabilitation Centre or Convalescence Care?

Speak to your/her practitioner for a referral as I feel you may need extra assistance. I currently care for my dad, so I can relate to the constant demands of tending to the infirm.

Also, remember you are not expected to carry everything alone. As Elizabeth mentioned, talking to a support group can help ease your suffering.

Kind regards,


Community Member

Thank you

I am feeling much better this morning, amazing what a good sleep can do!!

I am looking into some external respite for her to enjoy and I will look into your suggestions as well.

Thanks again


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Julie

I'm very sorry about your mum, hugs.

You're well entitled to feel completely overwhelmed at the situation. You've got far too much on your plate and this time is extremely challenging.

SO is getting help!

We can suggest you contact many agencies but I know for myself, this can be extremely frustrating.

I urge you to become the "squeaky door that gets the oil"... keep on contacting support services to help.
Both you AND your mum will need these services ongoing.

They may offer Counselling support, house cleaning, support with visits to appointments, respite care, absolutely Nursing care.

A few contacts:
- a palliative care team through the hospital
- My Aged Care - you can phone the BB helpline for these and more numbers.

Getting "linked in" with supports will hopefully become the life rafts supporting you all at this very sad time.

Love EM