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

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Caring for someone while your unwell

It is bad enough feeling unwell at anytime really especially when you have flu and everything hurts, your temperature is all over the place and you feel like if you cough anymore you might injure yourself. However being ill and looking after someone is what felt like sometimes, the impossible. Yes we all know what it is like to be a mum and when we are poorly still have to look after the children, except that is where partners normally give a hand albeit sometimes a very little hand, depending on how willing your partner is. I hear of those who get to spend the day in bed, don’t need to worry about anything to those who have to get on as much as they can knowing that when bedtime comes they can get the children to bed before going to bed themselves. Some even have children old enough to see to themselves which also eases the pressure on a mother.

However this is where I am different, children are predominantly looked after by me for a start, call me a single parent sometimes but that is just how it goes, so no lie ins, staying in bed to recover or children off with family for the day. I do have to just get on with it. Then you might say well ‘when they are in bed get to bed yourself’ but when they are in bed I still have Chris, he needs medication and making sure he doesn’t just disappear, he needs to be reminded it might be good to go to bed so he doesn’t just end up asleep on the sofa fully clothed. I need to make sure he has had something to eat, that he is alright and so makes it impossible for me to just go to bed and sleep.

So despite me feeling awful, high temperature, cough, sore throat, ear ache, headache, tummy ache, clammy and achy so much so it was even difficult to walk up and down the stairs, I had to try and just get on with it. Too many people needed me, I wanted very much too just sleep but I had to keep going. One evening when I felt really ill, the girls were all fast asleep in bed and Chris expressed he was struggling so much with suicidal thoughts and it was taking all his energy not to act on them. I was exhausted and struggling to even sit up so I suggested he just come and lie on the bed with me, that way I could rest but at the same time could keep an eye on him, and I knew he was safe. This is what we did, eventually he fell asleep and I was able to get some sleep as well.

I still have a cough, it is taking me awhile to recover from what I think in the end was flu, I am left now just feeling weak, I have not been that unwell for years and it has really taken it out of me but it is just an example of how no matter how unwell I feel I just can’t rest or stop what I am doing to allow myself to recover.  It is really hard; I am just hoping and praying after that I am now free from being ill for a long while.


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Where was he?

I woke at midnight and Chris hadn’t come to bed, he had been asleep when I went to bed and the night before he had spent the night on the sofa too so I came down to check on him. He was just stirring and said he would be up to bed in a moment after having a cup of tea.  So I went back up to bed and must have fallen asleep.  I woke up at half past two in the morning and the hall light was still on and Chris wasn’t in bed, upon realising this amongst the brain fog I shot out of bed and down the stairs, the sofa lay empty, the kitchen was how I had left it, I began to panic, where on earth was Chris. I shot to the window and peered out into the darkness, I felt sick; I didn’t know where he was.

I went back upstairs and grabbed my mobile, I wrote him a message asking where he was, and thank goodness he replied telling me he was at his brothers and wouldn’t be home until the morning.  This was so out of character at the moment, he was feeling suicidal and to escape his thoughts he needed to go out, which he did but didn’t think to tell me. His brother didn’t even think to let me know he was there in case Chris hadn’t told me as it is a little odd him turning up there gone midnight.  After all this I couldn’t sleep, I was worried sick about him, I wasn’t able to keep an eye on him and I don’t trust his brother too either, what if he  just left there and no one knew where he was.  So I have been awake since about half past two, I am shattered and I just want him home because he is due medication shortly too.

I just want to say a huge thanks to @FemalePTSD who was there for me in the small hours, it means a lot hun!

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Tears, worries but ‘I’m ok’.

You know when you go beyond angry and you get to the point where you end up upset that was me today. It didn’t help that at the said moment I was on my phone tweeting whilst feeding Cora and his CPN asked me if I was ok because I looked ‘cross’. Nothing to do with the flushed face that was enough to make a beat route jealous then. Anyway as most people know, when you are trying to hold things together and someone asks ‘are you ok?’ your brain normally takes this as a hint to make you cry and so I did, in the middle of Oldham Integrated Care Centre I ended up bursting into tears.

You are probably wondering why such a reaction, poor Chris certainly wasn’t expecting it, I am usually the strong one even when I feel far from it, I slap on the brave face but today I had let down my guard. His CPN looked at me like she didn’t know what to say and wanted to know what was wrong but how am I meant to talk through my tears in the middle of a waiting room so I just said I was fine. Complete lie but the easiest thing to do in such a situation.  The truth was though we had walked out of a meeting with his psychiatrist, the crisis team (home treatment team) and his CPN, all we had gained from it was knowing that Chris was having his anti depressant doubled in dose and that the crisis team were discharging him because ‘your four weeks is up’ basically. I didn’t know who was seeing him next or when or anything and once again it felt like it was all up to me. Once again I heard the words uttered from the crisis team ‘meanwhile if he’s unwell take him to A&E,’ oh yes because at the moment I have that ability and you know what other problems that normally entails including degrading speeches and comments from ignorant staff and potential police involvement if he decides to leave and they are concerned. All whilst I have a tiny baby with me all the time, no family support and everything else.  So excuse me if my brain feels overloaded, stressed and decides now is a good time to start the tears so much so I spent the rest of the day trying to look fine and not burst into tears again.

His CPN is coming on Friday afternoon, I am pleased about this but the following Friday she then actually leaves and then who knows, because we are back to the ‘stand ins’ for goodness knows how long before they find someone long term (I hope). The whole time we have no long term plan it doesn’t only feel worrying and unsettled for me, it does for Chris as well. Perhaps if they put themselves in my shoes today they might see why I ended up in tears, not something that happens often in front of them, I normally keep tears to myself. What they go through with Chris every now and again I am living twenty-four seven with no means of escape and every now and again they make it harder and it does get on top of me. I am not a superhero, just human.

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The whole world is on my shoulders.

It would appear today that I feel like the whole world is on my shoulders. I am worried about far too much to even attempt to go into it all. That feeling that my brain is going around in circles with things I have going on at the moment or that need addressing.

I am worried about my eldest Emily, she is at that age now where she is asking questions about her dad and it is actually breaking my heart to even think I have to explain that her Daddy is unwell. I know I need to be open and honest with her so that she can understand and doesn’t blame herself but every time I think about it I want to cry for her.

I have the fact that once again he is losing his CPN and at the moment I don’t know of a replacement, that the crisis team is due to discharge him on Monday and as things stand there is no long term plan in place. Who knows what will happen about that, will we be left for months on end again with no one?

I am worried because of all the problems his family cause, I am not even going to start about that, but instead will Blog it separately some other time when I can think straight enough to open up such a difficult topic which sees me stuck well and truly in the middle.

There are just some days where I wake up, normally tired (nothing ever looks good from behind tired eyes) and I have to slap on the smile, the brave face and pretend all is fine, when inside I am crying and the only thing I really want to do is give up and make everything go away. As many carers will know it doesn’t matter how you feel, you have to find something from somewhere to keep going because too many people are depending on you.

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Uncertain times

I once again find myself worried about the long term care for Chris. I found out yesterday by my health visitor, who had decided to do some of the phoning to the CMHT for me, that Chris CPN is going to be leaving. That is for a start all I know and once again, just like last time I have found out by other means than the CMHT themselves. Tonight the Crisis team were due out, or the Home treatment team, whatever they prefer to be known as these days. They were for a start late, which admittedly is far better than too early like has happened before but still annoying. It was discussed that someone from the CMHT would be visiting on Thursday and then Crisis would be out on Saturday before they both attend on Monday so they can discharge him. This does ring alarm bells because at the moment they will be discharging him to what? That is exactly where the plan ends, who he sees beyond that I don’t know because I have no idea when current CPN is back and no idea who is replacing her when she leaves. Once again living in a tangled mess of uncertainty.