I became this carer without really knowing
I was a carer. I just was there putting one foot in front of the other trying to keep
going to help my husband and fight in his corner for him. And it never occurred to me
that there was never any support for me because I’ve got my own mental health condition
and stress is a trigger for that and I just kind of disregarded it. I was just going to
try to keep going and fight every day. It wasn’t until much later on when the CPNs
were involved and they said what about you, have you got support and I thought not really.
I mean I’ve got friends and family but I had no official sort of support in place.
I think I’ve had like a bit of mixed experience with sort of support from school
or education, employment and stuff. My last job was surprisingly unsupportive given the
field of work I was in. I asked for time off, I mean there’s a procedure for it, but I’ve
asked for time off quite quickly. And no one told me that there was such a thing as carers
leave. They insisted that I took it all out of my annual leave. Then when I asked afterwards
if I could sort of switch it around and give it back to me they didn’t do it. But then
when I was at UNI they were really supportive. I had to come home for a month and it was
right at sort of deadline time, they gave me extensions and they were really…
That’s really good to hear. It’s kind of luck of the draw sometimes.
It’s a mixed bag isn’t it? Yes a lot of time we don’t think as being
affected by things. We keep working and going to work, we do everything when we come home
and everybody thinks we are fit. And unless you collapse, then they will say you’re
sick. But you know I feel like that’s why there’s support for us. I feel as carers,
not there in the beginning, they let us get on with it and then wait until the point where
we can’t do anymore and then they will come in to support us. But then it’s too late
sometimes, could be more worse for us to support the other person.
Well I think because of the mental health aspect as well in the start when you talked
about not considering yourself a carer I didn’t because I wasn’t associating it with the
stuff that people do when caring for say somebody with dementia or with a physical disability.
And so when I saw at my GPs that there was a carers network I thought, well that doesn’t
really apply to me. But actually I eventually signed up for it and they were good. They
said yes we can do x, y and z for you and make sure you get a flu jab. Practical things
like that you know to make sure that my health was good because I suppose my health needs
to be good to look after him. That’s right yes. I think in order to take
help from other people and other family members you’ve got, I would be looking at as
weak and not able to look after my own child. So I did not want to approach him in that
way. But then it came to a point I say well, if I don’t get them involved how far will
I go. So I had to use a different strategy, like you know for them to come and help. And
they were very supportive you know and that’s helped a lot. And I realise that if you don’t
take help if it’s out there then you are on your own and it will not do any good to
your health and your wellbeing yourself. So having the family, friends and networking
with others has helped a lot and I have seen the difference now.
I’m one of these people who insist on being incredibly independent and you know, oh I
can cope with it all on my own. But when I did, when I told people what was going on…
I think when people knew about it they were so supportive and it was an enormous source
of help. It really was. And our families don’t live locally, so it was quite a distance for
them to travel to be with us but they offered to if we needed their help. And just friends,
being able to offload everything onto friends, it’s so very good to just sit and talk,
they let me talk and just pour everything out. They are really understanding. Then a
few of them have been through it as well and know what’s going on.
I think as well, for me at least, I feel that by being able to talk to other people, friends,
family or whatever about what was going on to do with my mom’s health it’s kind of
made me more able to talk about everything else. You know you kind of like get rid of…
Yes more, you get confident to talk to people. Yes exactly. And I think that in that way
it’s kind of like made me a lot more balanced and that before for a long time I was quite
an insular person. Still I’ll go, but I just was never one to like talk about problems
or like bad stuff. And I think that by doing that it kind of like paved the way I suppose
to being able to talk about other things and being honest about how you feel about certain
things. Because I think that’s part of the problem isn’t it? If you hold everything
in for too long then it’s… Yes we hold everything inside. We don’t
want people to know what’s happening to us.