Single mom in nursing school? LONG

  1. Over the last few years I've been working on completing my basics and support courses for a BSN degree. I will be finished this summer. The plan was for my husband and I to pay off debt and save up some money so that we can afford for me to quit my job this July/August and go to school full-time. I work a M-F 8-5 job in an unrelated field and would not be able to keep my job and go to nursing school at the same time. I'm leaning towards doing an LPN program 2014-2015, then work part-time as an LPN while I finish up my nursing courses for an ADN 2015-2016, then work part time as an RN while I finish my BSN 2016-2017.

    However, long story short, my husband has severe anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts and is most likely Bipolar. He hasn't been working since August and I have no idea if/when he will go back to work. This has been off and on for about 3 years. Once again, I feel like my dream is being ruined and I am held hostage by his illness. We have a 4 year old son and I promised myself that if the time came where my husband's illness was negatively affecting our son then I would have to seriously re-evaluate our situation. While I am not looking to run out and file for divorce, I really think a trial-separation would be best for all of us. I love my husband very much but I no longer have the energy to give him 100% of myself. At the expense of myself and my son, I've spent the last few years trying to convince my husband that our life together is good and worth living and trying to force him to be happy. I can't do it anymore. I'm completely drained. At this point in my life, I want to focus on my son and work on myself so that I can be the mom that he deserves, not a miserable, empty-shell mom, like my own mother was. I want to start with FINALLY accomplishing my dream that I've been working towards for almost 4 years!

    Having said all that, my actual question is: Have any of you guys made it through full-time nursing school as a single mom? I have no idea how I will be able to afford it if I can't work. At this point, I don't really have any friends or family who can help. My husband's family is pretty much my only family, which makes it even more awkward. I am pretty close to my dad and stepmom but they live out of state (4 hours away) and I am welcome there but that would require me taking my son and moving. I think that would be too hard on my husband.

    What do I do?!

    1. Give up my dream
    2. Stay with my husband in hopes that he'll magically get better and have a job so that I can quit mine next August?
    3. Take my son and move out of state and live with family while I go to school?

    If you guys know of any financial assistance programs other than regular Pell grants and Stafford loans please let me know. Unfortunately, I will exhaust that money just for tuition.
  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   Ginger's Mom
    Has your husband been medically diagnosed and treated? I would work on that. If your husband is mentally ill and harming you and your son get out.

    Many single moms work full time and go to school, do not give up on your dream
  4. by   NurseGirl525
    I'm going to tell you right now, it's going to be difficult. I am a single mom and going through a divorce as we speak. My son is 7 and is in second grade so he is in school while I am in school. The divorce has been extremely difficult on my son. He is having a hard time with it and I started him in counseling 3 weeks ago to help but I can't get him to open up yet. In the meantime we have lots of meltdowns, having anxiety issues in school, having a difficult time at judo. If your husband really has a mental illness and you can't deal, get him some help first. I would make sure he had help and was stable before I left for him and your child. It's hard enough all around without someone having a mental illness. I'm not saying you need to stay with someone that you don't want to be with. I would just try to make things as smooth as possible for everyone. Especially your child. There are days when I ask myself how I am going to make it to tomorrow. And I don't have a job. Please just think about all of this before you make any decisions.
  5. by   vintagemother
    Hi! I read your post and want to respond because I was in a similar situation. My marriage was not doing well. But I decided to become a nurse in spite of that. I also wanted to enter the BSN program and so I had a lot of prereqs to take.

    The big lesson I learned was that I was in denial about the seriousness of the problems in my marriage. I thought we were a regular couple who would work through our problems.

    My desire to go to school put more strain on an already precarious marital situation. I did not recognize how precarious my situation was. I thought my marriage was a foundation I could rely on. We had been married over 8 years and had a stable life (home, kids in private school, 3 kids in lots of extracurricular activities.

    My husband also had health problems which affected his mood and desire to put in extra help. He had no diagnosed psychiatric disorders, but had Low Testosterone, 100lbs overweight, uncontrolled blood sugar and blood pressure so high he nearly had a stroke and was hospitalized at age 40!

    I say all of this to give you 2 pieces of advice, which may sound harsh.... (I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have taken my own advice, but that's not going to stop me from giving you some advice)

    1) You need to take steps protect yourself and your son's financial interests. Even if you don't go through with a trial separation, you should consult a divorce attorney to find out what legal options you will have to assure that you and your son will have a roof over your head and food if, indeed, your marriage doesn't survive.

    2) Don't give up on your dream! You can become a nurse as as single mom.

    In fact, I wrote a post similar to yours back in 2011. Read it here.

    I just graduated from an LVN school a few weeks ago. Because I didn't protect myself and didn't make moves fast when the sh@t was about to hit the fan, I completed nursing school under very adverse conditions. But, I can't complain because I made it through it by the grace of God. I lost a lot by pursuing my dream but I also felt it was important to put myself in a position where I could make good money.

    I was also close to my husbands family, closer to them than my own. But when he started making accusations against me, neither his family nor mine, came to my rescue.

    I was able to receive funds from a program called "WIA" to help fund my LVN program. Your divorce settlement may force him to help pay for the costs of retraining for you. Or, may at least make him responsible to pay for half of your education loans.

    I don't think your concern should be your husband, it should be about achievement of your goals and making sure that you and your child are financially OK.

    You asked "Have any of you guys made it through full-time nursing school as a single mom?"
    Yes. I did. I was actually without a regular place to live for the first 4-5 months of the program because my husband kicked me out by filing a false restraining order against me because he was angry and I lived on different people's floors with my kids for months. (I never thought he'd ever do this when we were married and he still cries when he sees me and tells me he loves me)

    In order to get through nursing school, I lived off of cash aid/ food stamps, the generosity of others and the grace of God. My program was 40 hrs/wk plus travel time. I couldn't work much, but maintained straight A's for the first 6 months of the program and graduated with a 3.6. I kept primary custody of our son throughout this and kept his grades up. (I also had to attend court proceedings during nursing school which was very hard, he kept accusing me of child abuse!) I guess I'd like to warn you that when people get hurt or mad, they tend to lash out, which is why you have to protect yourself. My husband never seemed like the type to do this type of thing.

    If you want to read more about how I made it through nursing school, check out my blog.
  6. by   nurseprnRN
    Quote from sunfish86

    What do I do?!

    1. Give up my dream
    2. Stay with my husband in hopes that he'll magically get better and have a job so that I can quit mine next August?
    3. Take my son and move out of state and live with family while I go to school?
    Numbah 1: Nope. Life is too short, you only get one, and never give up a dream unless YOU can't do it, not because of external factors that you can change (like I will never climb Mt Everest even though I've always dreamed about it, because I am too old and fat ) It's also not a good example to your son to see you be overwhelmed and bitter and all that you know will happen if you stay.

    Numbah 2: Nope. We all learned in child development that magical thinking is long-outgrown by the time we're adults. Not gonna happen, and you know it anyway, we can tell.

    So from here the answer is clearly Numbah 3, assuming your family is willing and able to do this. Lots of single moms (and dads) make it through nursing school to provide for their children. Your family will be stability and support for your son while you're in school (and it sounds like life hasn't been a lot of fun for him lately, so this will be good for him in other ways, as well as showing him how to take life by the horns and work for something worth working for), and it won't do you any harm to be in a stable and secure situation, either.

    Good luck, stay in touch, let us know how you're making out.
  7. by   nurseprnRN
    Hey, sunfish86-- how's it going? Any updates? Are you OK?
  8. by   Emergent
    I suggest you do anything you need to to complete school. It sounds like it's time to pare down extracurriculars and eliminate private school for the kiddos. Even if you have to go on public assistance to finish your program, I think it's imperative for you to secure yourself a good career, in light of the fact that your husband is unstable and mentally ill.

    I agree, you need to protect yourself financially. God Bless and please update!
  9. by   Pudnluv
    I was going to nursing school full time and working part time on the weekends. That is until I gave birth to our third child. Then I just went to school and my husband worked full time. Our marriage was pretty rocky and my husband took to drinking and drugs. When our youngest was 2 months old, my then husband moved out of state. I was left a full time student with no job and three young children to support, ages 6, 2 and 2 months. Here is what I did.....

    The very next day, I went down and applied for public assistance. I also applied for the Jobs program that help give me assistance for child care expenses. I did not have a car at the time, so I bused it all the way. I did not stop going to school. I had a strong family support system and the support of my church. I couldn't have done without them. I finished school and was working 5 days after graduation. I called the public assistance and told my caseworker that I would no longer need their services and I haven't needed them since then.

    This was 20 years ago. I did and so can you. If moving home with your family will give you the support you need, then do that. Just keep going, do not give up your dream. In the long run it will be so worth it.
  10. by   peaq
    Hello I do wish you the best in your success! I am not a nurse yet and still haven't gotten into the program but will pursue it after I move. that said, I did want to touch on what you said here..
    "I've spent the last few years trying to convince my husband that our life together is good and worth living and trying to force him to be happy. I can't do it anymore. I'm completely drained"
    My experience with so many people and with those I have known with or without mental illness is that YOU can not no matter how hard you try make or create another person happiness. They have to want it and that is the bottom line. i was in relationship with a guy with bpd and I figured out that no matter what he wasn't going to be happy no matter how positive I could be. I had to drop him for my own sake. if he is not willing to seek help and follow through, I hate to say it but he will continue to drag you down because misery loves company is completely true! Good luck to you!