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moving away to uni with a disabled parent: guilt


i was hoping for anyone to give me advice please i’m feeling really anxious and guilty right now. I have been accepted into early entry at my long-time dream university and dream course. The issue is the uni is 6+ hrs away from my home. My dad suffered viral encephalitis at the beginning of this year leaving him with permanent brain damage, depressive episodes, and epilepsy. my mum and i are his only carers as the NDIS hasn’t accepted our claims. i feel so immense and paralysing guilt thinking about moving away from my mum at this point of time. my dad will never fully recover and my mum has PTSD and i know how lonely she is as it’s as if she lost her husband and now it’s replaced by a new person that she has to care for. also we r really struggling with money so i care for him as she works nights as a nurse.  my grades in hsc have dropped a ton so early action is the only way i could really get into my dream courses but i have to accept the offer 2 months before getting my actual atar so i don’t really have a big backup plan. idk i just feel so awful and guilty i feel like i can’t breathe. any input would be really helpful thanks 

Re: moving away to uni with a disabled parent: guilt

Hi @katherineuni! Welcome to the forums! Smiley Happy

First of all, congratulations on your offer! That's an amazing achievement!

Your situation sounds so sad and difficult. I'm really sorry about your dad. It's awful that you weren't able to get anything from the NDIS. Smiley Sad Having a family member suddenly becoming sick or disabled can take a huge toll on the whole family. It sounds like a total nightmare for you and your parents. Not only is your dad now disabled, but you and your mum could also be grieving the person that he used to be. My heart goes out to you all. Heart

I am currently facing a similar situation. I am living with and caring for my frail grandmother, who has dementia and needs constant monitoring. Late last year, my sister suddenly stopped being able to walk and has since been diagnosed with functional neurological disorder and complex regional pain syndrome. She needs 24 hour care and supervision and her medical team hasn't seen a case as severe as hers. We took her to a lot of hospitals but the one that is most equipped to treat her took months to admit her. I had to rearrange my whole schedule and life so my mum and I could care for her. She is at home now because the hospital discharged her against our wishes when she wasn't safe to go home. They are planning to readmit her, but constantly delay her admission and her team insisted for two people to constantly be around to safely transfer and care for her in the meantime.

It has been so hard. I'm actually glad that I'm not studying this year because there was no way I would have been able to cope. Like you, we are currently trying to get NDIS assistance but it's taking a long time. The situation has led to a lot of financial strain and we don't get a lot of support with the caring. I really want to go on to postgraduate study next year but I have no idea how I am going to manage unless we receive more support.

There is no real right or wrong answer in whether you should accept the offer. Are you able to accept it and then possibly defer or change your mind later? Would you be able to get some support from the uni? I know some people who have been able to apply for and take a leave of absence while studying so that they can care for their family. There could also be other supports in place. You may be eligible for a scholarship as you are a carer, which might help you out financially. Would you and/or your mum be eligible for any carer-related financial assistance through Centrelink?

Apart from the NDIS, there also other services which may be able to assist you and your family. We were able to get a lot of disability aids through my sister's occupational therapist. EnableNSW provided us with some equipment. There might be similar kinds of services in your state. Are you able to enquire about this with an occupational therapist or the hospital that your dad was in?

If you can't get a carer through the NDIS, would you be able to hire your own carer? There are websites such as this one and this one where you can enter your location and find out if there are carers near you.

It's also important to take care of yourself. This must be such a stressful time for you and your family. I know from my own experience that being a carer can really take over your life. ReachOut has a lot of resources for young carers here. Here are some other supports for young carers. We also have a really great thread about coping mechanisms and distractions here, which could help when you need some suggestions for self-care. There are lots of other similar threads on the forums.

Re: moving away to uni with a disabled parent: guilt

Hey @katherineuni, I want to say first of all, CONGRATULATIONS on getting into your dream uni! What a wonderful, exciting achievement! Smiley Very Happy  

It sounds like your situation is a complex one, and there are a lot of factors to consider.

I'm not sure if you're aware of organisations like Carer's Victoria or Tandem - given that you care for your dad and (I'm guessing) in some ways, your mum as well, they might be able to help you.

What do you reckon about contacting them or similar organisations?

// Spiral outward, keep going. //

Re: moving away to uni with a disabled parent: guilt

Thanks for sharing your story @katherineuni - I think you are so brave and should not feel guilty for a second!!! 


You have been accepted into your dream course at your dream uni!! I think you should stand tall and be proud of yourself because that is such an amazing achievement so well done!! 


I can totally see where you are coming from though because it is never easy when having to make life decisions that not only impact you, but also your family and it sounds as though your situation is a thousand times more challenging than most so of course you're going to feel more guilty than most others heading off to uni. I know I say you shouldn't feel guilty (and you shouldn't) but it's so much easier said than done and I get that. 


I understand both your parents are having a hard time for completely different reasons which sounds like it's putting a lot of additional strain on you which I'm sorry to hear. I'm just wondering if you've spoken with them about how you're feeling at all? I have no doubts they are extremely proud of you for reaching this goal and would want to see you shine. I know it won't be easy on any of you, but I do also feel you need to make sure you voice how you are feeling and don't just throw away this amazing opportunity out of guilt because you'll live to regret it. Trust me, I've been there. 


I'm not saying you have to drop everything and leave right away, but maybe you could look into some of the amazing things @WheresMySquishy suggested that might help you and your family get better set up for the adjustment? I think getting in contact with the uni and explaining your situation would be a great start. Having just started university myself with alot of personal things going on, it wasn't until I reached out that I realised how much support there actually was. My situation is very different from yours, but also similar in many ways so I really urge you to contact the university, let them know how much you want to accept their offer and explain your situation because I am sure they'll be able to provide you with some great advice or forward you to someone who can. I find that schools make uni out to big this big daunting scary and serious thing, but honestly they are the total opposite. Well at least my uni is. They go above and beyond to support you and see you succeed so definitely get in touch with them because they might help relieve alot of this stress and guilt you're currently experiencing!! 


And like @WheresMySquishy  said - you could always accept and then defer for a year? At least that way you're buying yourself some time to be at home and help get your mum and dad more set up for you leaving which might help you feel less guilty? 


Just make sure you don't give up on your dreams out of fear or guilt because they will eat away at you. And don't be afraid to voice how you're feeling and to do what's right for you as well ❤