Health-related conditions

You might be interested in learning about something that’s linked to the person you care for. In the example below, Sandra successfully passed The Open University access course, Y183 Starting with Psychology, and moved on to study DSE141 Discovering Psychology and DD131 Introducing the Social Sciences – Part One at undergraduate level. As well as being something ‘just for her’, she feels these courses helped her gain a better insight into her son’s condition.


Figure 4.2 Sandra (Library image)

Sandra, 47, is a qualified nurse but because of her own health problems she isn’t currently able to work in nursing. She cares for her teenage son who has Asperger syndrome. At first she felt selfish making time for herself to study psychology, but she found that it has given her the energy to cope with her demanding roles and has helped her understand her son’s condition so that she is better able to support him. She has found that returning to study has been a crucial part of regaining her sense of herself.

Read about Sandra’s reasons for studying psychology:

The degree I have is great for nursing, but I felt that I needed to be challenged because I spent all my time with my son.

I fill my time with things for my son, so this is where I get to do things for myself … my son has so many needs it was easy to lose myself in his needs.

That’s why I started studying at The Open University, because I felt I was beginning to lose my sense of identity. I felt that I was so involved in caring for my son, that I no longer had time for me. I no longer had time to stretch myself, even just to do something for myself.

The psychology degree really interests me because it is making me think about what makes people tick and, for me especially, it helps me to understand how my son thinks.

I understand my son so much better and myself so much better. I suffer from clinical depression and the psychology course has been really cathartic.

The thought I had when I first started was that it felt a bit selfish to be doing this, but that’s gone now, and I really found that this is purely for me – this course that I’m doing – and it’s really good.

And one thing I enjoy is going to our local coffee shop with my books and having a hot chocolate and studying there for an hour. It gives me the energy then to cope with caring because I’ve managed to do something that’s totally away from that.

I’ve developed skills through persevering through caring … As much as my son has developed social skills and such like I think I have learned skills as well, like coping skills and perseverence.

Because I’ve become resilient, even when the course became hard and I felt like, ‘I can’t do it’, I actually managed to keep going with it.

Sandra chose to study psychology as a personal challenge that gave her time for herself. The fact that this gave her a greater understanding of her son’s perspective was a bonus. She enjoys her time studying and realises that this time for herself helps her cope with her caring role.

Perhaps you’d like to know more about a particular health-related condition, such as dementia or diabetes? The courses Sandra studied are no longer available but if you are interested in these topic areas new, complementary courses include the access course Y032 People, work and society [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , DE100 Investigating psychology 1 and DD102 Introducing the Social Sciences. In addition here is a selection of courses on OpenLearn that are concerned with health-related conditions.

Something for me: making my caring experience count