The insight of the life of a carer is like reading a bestselling novel. Each carer has their own story to share. Today, I will give you a snap shot of my story. Like many of the unsung heroes’ (carers) stories, it would be far too long to share the full version. It would be like reading through the encyclopaedias of the past.
Hearing of my mum’s Alzheimer diagnosis after her MRI scan in 2014, was the day my life changed. It not only changed for me but the lives of my siblings and my own family. The spiral of events that followed was out of my control. It was like entering a black hole. No one could have prepared me or my family for the years that followed.
Being the carer at the start of mum’s journey really impacted on my physical, emotional and mental health. The rainbow of emotions experienced included: anger, resentment, grief, hopelessness and complete exhaustion. Smiling behind a mask of pain was a show upheld over the years of caring. I was no longer recognised by my name, as a wife or even mother. Instead, my new title was ‘unpaid carer’.
I had no time to seek support, advise or information because I was busy caring for my mother and it became a full time job.
The challenges and frustrations of caring, whilst trying to keep my head above water with my own family was exhausting. Thank goodness, I didn’t have a paid job. I really don’t think I would have coped, like so many carers juggling today.
The Hidden Carers Workshop run by Time Bank, funded by Forward Carers was an excellent opportunity of learning about the carer’s role and the support available. I became a volunteer and later on in my journey co-delivered on one of the workshops. Thanks Sian for your support and commitment to the volunteers. My recent incredible 3 day residential offered by Dementia Carers Count (thanks team) was really an amazing experience on my carer journey. The WhatsApp group, resulting from the residential has become a tremendous support. I would definitely recommend all carers to seek support no matter how difficult time is to get whilst caring.
I must mention how supportive mum’s Social Worker has been over the past four years. She has been involved in mum’s care from the beginning and continues to be, which is invaluable to us as a family. The care services and care provided has been fragmented at times but as a family, we have soldiered on and mum is doing well in spite of her Dementia. This has definitely been because of the support and love we provide to her on our journey. Love is what anchors the unnoticed hours and care that we all give to our loved ones as carers.
I have now managed to get a place for September at Birmingham City University to do my Return to Mental Health Nursing, which is finally something for me. I am keen to work in the area of Dementia Care, particularly with the families that are often the ones that get unnoticed. This opportunity has definitely been possible because of my determination, motivation, perseverance and support of my amazing children and husband. There is ‘light at the end of a dark tunnel’.