Carer Burnout


Carer Burnout

My partner (m32) has stage IV bladder cancer and is currently on a trial. The trial has shown that the cancer is stable with slight reduction and not many symptoms from treatment. He chooses to work although I have suggested multiple times over the past 2 years that he should stay at home instead but he enjoys working with his friends twice a week.


I (f29) have looked after everything in the house and with our dogs during the entire relationship (we found out about his cancer a month into the relationship so we lived together quite quickly). Chemo was very difficult with extreme side effects so the clinical trial has been a very welcome change for him.


We have had multiple arguments throughout the relationship especially the last 2-3 months. The majority of the arguments have been around him placing extremely high expectations on me for example; to wake up when he gets home from work at 3am and cook him a meal/stay awake until around 5am. My normal sleep schedule is 11pm-7am as I work full time 8am-4pm. During the entire relationship he has not had to cook or clean at all, not even once as I do it all. Example; he will be standing right next to me but make me cut the tomato for his sandwich because he doesn’t want to do it. 


Recently I have been incredibly burnt out which I have told him (he does not want assistance like a cleaner or carer to help). I have sleep apnoea so making sure that I get enough sleep is very important so that I can function. I also have endometriosis which affects me with extreme pain on a daily basis along with ingrown toenails which affect me being able to stand for long periods.


Yesterday I finally had surgery to remove my ingrown toenails and we had discussed what 2-3 days of bed rest would look like for us. I spent the entire day before the surgery cooking meals for the following few days and cleaning the entire house to ensure that he would not have many responsibilities during this time (he didn’t talk to me that day because he was angry that we didn’t get to spend a lot of time together due to me being busy preparing everything). His main responsibility would be feeding our dogs dinner.


Tonight it was 3 hours after the dogs normal dinner time so I asked if he could do it and he ignored me. I ended up having to do it which upset me after everything that I have done and being so sore after surgery made it difficult. He then proceeded to tell me how I need to make the dogs listen to me (they were very excited for dinner time considering it was 3 hours late so I was trying to get them to sit and wait). This made me so upset because on top of having to do it I was being told off for not being perfect.


I just need to know if anyone else has experienced this as a carer and to know if I am being dramatic by being upset by this. I am so burnt out and at my breaking point where nothing that I do is good enough. I don’t know how much more I have to give when I feel like there is no appreciation for all that I do.

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Regular Contributor

Re: Carer Burnout

Hi Dee, that sounds like a very stressful relationship for you. Do you think you would stay if he didn’t have cancer? You aren’t being appreciated for all that you do 😢. So sorry. Yes caring for someone is hard but if he can still go to work it seems like he would be able to help you more. Maybe you need to get some emotional help from someone. 💕 Linda G

Frequent Visitor

Re: Carer Burnout

Hi Dee, I'm sorry that you are experiencing all this extra stress. Having a partner with Cancer is stressful enough! My husband has stage 4 Prostate Cancer, with no cure, just having treatments to try and buy us some time. I realised at the time of his diagnosis (5 weeks ago) that this was going to bring huge changes to our lives, so my advice to you, is to get help NOW. I reached out to the Cancer Council and have been put in touch with a wonderful sympathetic Counsellor who has already helped me into a plan of action. Also, reading your post, are you able to think about having dinners delivered? We do, Lite N Easy for us, only for dinners, which frees up my personal time for other important things. One thing that is helpful is to realise that when very sick people get cranky, it is often the illness speaking so being patient and ignoring the hurt feelings will help. I hope this has been even a little helpful for you. You are not alone, there are so many of us out there. Wishing you all the very best.  Heather xx

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Occasional Contributor

Re: Carer Burnout

It's hard to tell with your dealing with him or the cancer, the two are usually intertwined. It's also hard to distinguish whether your help is being taken for granted or appreciated. It's sounds like he's taking you for granted. But only you can be the judge of that. At the end of the day, there's only so much you can do. It's learning what those limits are. My mind and body doesn't give me much warning when I'm emotionally exhausted. I just snap. I usually need to go for a walk to clear my  head out.

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