Through the eyes of a carer for someone with a mental illness


The gap in carer support.

Something I have known about for awhile is the gap in support for carers here. You are fine if you a carer with no children, you have the carers centre with a wide range of groups for people to attend both without the person they care for and with the person they care for, they even have groups specifically for carers of someone with a mental illness but they rely on the fact you don’t have children. Then you have support for those who are caring for a child allowing the child to partake in activities while providing respite for the parents and allowing parents to talk to people who understand what they are going through.

The one thing that doesn’t seem to exist is family support for those who are caring and have children, like myself caring for Chris and also having three children to look after, no family support exists where we could meet other families going through the same and allow my children to be with other children who understand how they feel. This doesn’t so much matter now while the girls are still so young but as they get older I would like them to have support and others around them who understand. I know it is something that is needed, I have heard many professionals working with other people say that there should be a group/support for families and sometimes I wish there was something I could do about it. Sadly I have already got a lot going on and to be honest I wouldn’t have a clue where to start with setting something like that up. It will be something that I will keep in mind for the future though.



One of the problems as a carer…

I was so upset earlier today and so angry because of something that happened involving the Dentist. I have this massive fear of the dentist and I have no idea why, the thought freaks me out but my teeth are falling apart and need seeing to. About 6 weeks ago I made an appointment which landed today, ten o’clock to be exact. A few weeks after making the appointment, the 12th March I needed to make Chris another doctor’s appointment but the only time I could get it for was at 10.15am today (27th March) because of all the other appointments this week and their bookings it was all I could get and knowing Chris HAD to attend because he would run out of his medication which just isn’t an option. So I cancelled the appointment at the dentist at the same time knowing they clashed. Earlier I tried booking a new appointment, which I was told to do when I cancelled the other week and was met with ‘you have been taken off our patient list’ to which I asked why, they responded with ‘you didn’t attend an appointment in Nov 2011 which we sent a letter for’ and ‘you cancelled an appointment at short notice’. Firstly I never received a letter, and secondly how on earth is two weeks notice classed as short? I mean that’s plenty of time to arrange someone else to take my place. Anyway she said she couldn’t add me back I would need to speak to a manager or something so I told her not to worry about it.

What really upsets me about this is once again it’s my health that goes down the pan because it’s not my fault I can’t just get up and attend an appointment,  it took me a lot to even book an appointment at the dentist and today I could have just cried at their excuse. I appreciate some people just don’t turn up or waste their time but other than attend there was nothing more I could do than cancel two weeks before the appointment. It’s not the first time I have missed appointments because of having to cancel because I can’t split myself into three places at once. Seems there is very little understanding and zero flexibility around carers and their own needs. I have written a letter to the manager and will await their response. Just didn’t really need that today.


1 Comment

A blip

Chris was due to start the introduction sessions for the Democratic Therapeutic Community today but after a bad weekend of suicidal thoughts he was really struggling this morning. After a lot of time spent worrying and me trying to persuade him that it would be ok and he would feel better for it once he had gone he decided he just couldn’t. I was disappointed for him but I could understand why he had got himself so worked up over it. He sent a message to his social worker to explain he didn’t feel he could go and he was feeling really rubbish and suicidal. Sadly she didn’t get back to him about it today at all.

Tonight he has been struggling again, he took his full prescription of diazepam and although that isn’t a lot at seven, it’s a sign things aren’t going very well and has been a warning to me. This is how things start when everything gets worse. I have taken the key to the safe in the hope this will limit any damage that could be done. Chances are he will sleep for tonight and he is already due to see our GP in the morning where I will express my concerns as well.




Things haven’t been so great of late, I don’t think tiredness is helping me, as I always say ‘nothing ever looks good from behind tired eyes’. Chris has been finding things difficult but between him, his Social Worker and me we have  come to the conclusion his depot injection isn’t holding him for long enough. Currently he has his depot once every 2weeks, but it only seems to be holding him for a maximum of 9days before he starts to slip downhill again. His social worker visited him on Tuesday and has asked his psychiatrist what she thinks, so we now have a new plan that he will have his depot weekly but until we turn up next week I am unsure still as to the dose etc he will be on.

Chris is due to start his introductory sessions for the Democratic Therapeutic Community on Monday morning, I know he is anxious about them but fingers crossed he will be able to attend and that this will be just what he needs to help him. He seems to be looking forward to going from what he has said so far so that in itself is a huge step. His social worker is coming again on Thursday to do my carers assessment again and to see how Chris is doing after Monday.

I must admit that I am struggling lately, I am pretty tired and  I feel rather big all of a sudden. I am now just over 26weeks pregnant, it does bug me a little when the doctor says ‘your bound to be tired, your pregnant and have three children and Chris to look after’ I know but still I am lacking energy but I’m not anaemic so that’s something. It would help if I was getting a good night sleep but a combination of being too hot, Chris not sleeping, being uncomfortable etc I can’t seem too.

Sorry this seems so moany.. I do however feel a lot better for it.



Leave a comment

Mothers Day

There are a number of very special people in my life; one of them is undoubtedly my mum. I had always been a daddy’s girl when I was younger; I got on well with my mum but spent a lot of time with dad gardening etc. I was his shadow following him around, until I left home and had children of my own and my relationship with my mum changed, she is like my best friend. Looking back over the years she has done so much for my sister and I, she stopped working when she had me and didn’t return until my sister started school at the age of 4, and then she moved from secondary teaching to primary teaching so that she could be around for us more. My parents did everything to give my sister and I the best they could, that didn’t mean spoiling us with toys, sweets and gifts or giving us everything we asked for. It meant showing us they always loved us, were very proud of us and would always be there if we needed them. I had a stable family home for which I know I am extremely lucky.

After Emily was born, my mum came to stay with me for a week (my parents live 200miles away in London) she did all my cooking and cleaning and just left Chris and I to bond with our gorgeous new bundle, she did the same following the birth of Skye and Willow. I can’t thank her enough or put into words what she means to me, she has taught me everything I know about how to be a good mum. Even though I know there are parts of my life she would have never chosen for me, she has always put her feelings aside and been there no matter what. She has accepted Chris as part of the family and he is treated no differently to anybody else, she was as devastated as I was when I told her a year ago he attempted suicide (read about that here) He can go to her with anything and know she will be there for him as well. I know she means a lot to Chris because he hasn’t always felt his mum cared or was there for him; at least he has someone he can turn too apart from me. My mum makes me proud, the way she works her bum off to make sure the children she works with achieve their best, the way she has always ran the household, and given us the attention we require including my dad and still found a little life for herself too. I have always said if I could be half the person my mum was and is to me I would be doing an amazing job.

To me Mothers day isn’t only about being thankful for my mum but being thankful for my children. I am so lucky to have them; those little people have made me fight even when fighting seemed too difficult. The moment each of your children come into the world you’re filled with emotions and feelings like nothing you have or will ever have again. It’s an overwhelming feeling of love and you will do anything for them. For me it was the same breastfeeding my girls, the bond between them and I was so special, for the first 6-7months of their life they lived solely because of the milk I produced for them. I fed my youngest, Willow until she was 16months old, and on more than one occasion both my GP and various other professionals asked me if I should stop because of the stress of Chris being unwell and lack of sleep for me, that feeding Willow would be taking even more energy out of me. Every time they spoke to me about it I refused, Willow gave me a reason to stop and sit down for awhile, she gave me great comfort and I didn’t feel stopping would help, very much the opposite. The hormones that are released when breastfeeding are probably a huge reason why it was actually so good for me to continue until Willow self weaned.

I am lucky to have my mum, I am lucky to have my gorgeous girls and I don’t think I do a bad job considering, like I always remember my dad saying ‘as long as you have done your best no one can ask any more from you’ and yes I have done my best and will continue to because it’s nothing less than my girls deserve. Happy Mother’s Day to all those amazing mums out there!


The judgemental public.

Something I am still struggling with is other people and their judgements when I am out with Chris. I know I shouldn’t let these ignorant people get to me but it honestly can’t be helped sometimes. Going to the supermarket has to be one of the worst places Chris can go when he is agitated and anxious, I try and avoid it where possible but sometimes he can start off in a reasonable mood before we enter and come out a different person. The trouble is people just look at him as if he is some rude, ignorant lowlife in society when if only they knew!

One thing being a carer has taught me is not to be so judgemental because it’s easy to pass judgement from the outside but it’s rare you actually know what’s going on in someone’s life. I do get sick and tired of peoples comments and opinions that are so judgemental and very rarely correct. Depending on my own mood sometimes it’s easy to ignore what other people say or do and carry on like I don’t care but sometimes people staring etc really gets to me and I find it impossible to ignore. I just want the ground to swallow me up.

I think it has to be worse when Chris is manic, his comments can be inappropriate or just cringe worthy, I am someone who hates drawing attention to myself but that is impossible with Chris when he is saying ‘Hello!’ to everyone he see’s in funny voices. Or is inappropriately grabbing my bum all the time, it’s difficult to think you aren’t standing out like a sore thumb! To be honest it is absolutely exhausting to be with him when he is manic, I can’t keep up and it takes an awful lot out of me, goodness knows how he must feel.

If anyone has any comments or ways they have to manage their own feelings when someone is staring or being judgemental about the person they care for I would love to hear them. To be honest it would be nice to know I am not alone with feeling like this.

1 Comment

‘There are no beds’

One of the most common things I have heard over the last couple of years is the words ‘there aren’t any beds’ The thing is, someone was only looking for a bed for Chris in a psychiatric unit because we had exhausted all other options and felt now this was the only option we had left. I remember one particular day when Chris had been having a seriously tough time, he had been self harming and overdosing and struggling to cope, his social worker came over and he was distressed and Chris agreed that the best option would be hospital admission. She rang the gatekeeper (Crisis team manage beds here can you believe!!!) and they started to look for somewhere for Chris. As the next hour went passed it transpired that there were no beds left in most of the northwest, they had looked all over our local areas and then over towards Bolton etc, the only place they could find a bed was ORMSKIRK… this is bearing in mind we live in Oldham, miles away!

The problem with this when someone is anxious and unwell the last thing they want to be is miles and miles away from home, this was making him more distressed at the thought. This in turn made Chris refuse hospital admission at all and they couldn’t force him because at that time he apparently didn’t fit the criteria for a MHA assessment. This meant he had to keep himself safe and I, who was struggling with keeping him safe and didnt feel I could anymore. I carried on sitting with him and making sure he was ok but it was exhausting, if he was up all night so was I but I still had to look after the girls all day so I lived on little sleep.

So having heard ‘there are no beds’ on more than one occasion, when they go on about cutting money and jobs etc it is very worrying, they can’t cope at the moment, I dread to think how bad things will get if they take more resources away.