A Life Not Quite Perplexed »

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Carers and caring.

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The news this morning carried a story that general practitioners are calling for carers to be evaluated more frequently for depression. Today it is news that carers often neglect their own health as they focus on the person for whom they have caring responsibility. Tomorrow something else will be news and carers will still be putting others ahead of themselves. We care because that is what we do.

I will admit to feeling dubious, I cannot see any meaningful help being provided. In a year when benefits to people with disabilities have been cut I see no way resources would be made available to carers. Screening people, diagnosing illness, recognising signs of stress, acknowledging that the task of full-time caring is hugely demanding on personal resources and resilience would be completely pointless if there was nothing available to offer practical support.

Last Friday I wrote about individual offers of help and how even the kindest and best intentioned of people often stop short of offering the thing that would be of most help.

Admitting to having depression can be a hugely difficult thing for anyone who has this illness. Admitting that you have depression, or sometimes have moments of depression is almost impossible for a carer. While people may easily say, “I don’t know how you do it”, the last thing they want to hear in reply is, “well, sometimes so do I”.

There have been times as I parented and cared for my youngest child I wondered how I was going to make it through the day. I narrowed looking to the future not only down to day by day but moment by moment. I told myself I could cope with this minute and I would deal with the next minute when it arrived. I looked at this child whom I loved with my entire being and felt I was in a living Hell. I didn’t want to hear, “I don’t know how you do it”, because there were days I wasn’t. I kept my mouth shut when at times I wanted to say, “okay, you have her for a while and do it.” Add in guilt for feeling this way about your own child and you have the recipe for a perfectly reductive, self-perpetuating situational depression.

Of course there was help, various sources of help, each one stopped because no one else could do it. No one else could handle a child who while small and cute and pretty was aggressive and violent. There were ‘phone calls from those who ran services to say they could no longer help her, seasons cut short because she had lashed out at a support worker while I said, “okay, of course bring her back home, you give her back to me, to whom do I give her?”

No one should be assaulted by anyone, even a small child, I do not want you to think I feel any differently about that. The buck stops with me, with us and we entirely accept this, just please don’t come to me with easy sound bites and good sounding intentions. Do not pretend there is the money to train and employ suitable people to help with caring in the numbers that would be required. Do not pretend there are the resources to offer carers in all areas the level of respite they need to recuperate. Do not pretend there is a genuine will to step in and do what is needed to truly tackle the problem.

For us, thankfully, our daughter’s behaviour has vastly improved. There are plenty of other carers for whom their situation is still relentless, hinting at help that will never materialise to those who desperately need it is a cruel torture indeed.

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I hope you all have a great Saturday and whatever your situation you find even a small amount of time to yourself to stop, take a breath and just be.

Lynn x

© 2013, Penbleth / L. McG.-E.. All rights reserved.

Kimberley McGill - A resounding yes to everything you’ve shared!

During the years of my sons behavioral issues and later a mental health diagnosis making it from day to day with him was exactly as you’ve described. I remember the phone calls in the middle of my work day, and all those days spent exhausted, depressed and feeling hopeless. And no real relief for me or for him.

I am so glad that your situation has improved so much! Ours did too after several years. He’s a grown man today and doing well managing his illness (schizophrenia).

Be well,
Kimberley

Penbleth - Thank you Berley. That means so much. X

Katherine - Your writing is so powerful and heartfelt. Wishing you much strength.

Penbleth - Thank you Katherine.

Sunday sweep-up. » A Life Not Quite Perplexed - [...] I wrote Carers and Caring in response to the news here in the UK that doctors have called for carers to be screened more [...]