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

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It has been a year… and what a year it’s been.

Today marks a year since I first set up my blog and what a year it has been, never, when I sat here one evening a year ago after reading a post on MentalHealthCop’s blog and deciding to blog my experience in reply did I ever think that a year on I would be continuing to tell our story. I wanted to make people aware what happens to those trying to battle the mental health care system and also what happens to the people around them who live with and provide support and love, whether they recognise themselves as carer’s or not. We all forget that behind nearly every person suffering a mental illness is a family/friend/loved one, who too are going through a journey and this blog tells the story of my journey as well.

Over the past year the support I have received from others has been amazing, I have gathered a huge network of online friends who have been there through everything, as well as more understanding from those who already knew me offline. I have shared with you some of the best times of my life, Cora coming into the world and also some of the most difficult and hardest times, like the night I nearly lost Chris.

I blog not only because it is telling our story and making other people aware of what happens all over the country, every day, but because my blog it is an outlet, a place I can express how I feel, where when I don’t feel anyone is listening to me, or even that anyone cares, it is one place I can have my say and know someone is listening.

I want to thank everyone who has listened, shared, and helped me with my blog and journey this year and here’s to another year of blogging, let’s just hope this one is a little less eventful!



MH problem? A&E fixes everything…

Today has been far from a good day; in fact earlier today I decided to suggest to Chris that he go to a&e to seek help because it was obvious he was very distressed, he was having urges to hurt himself and he had cut his arms. So I set about trying to get the girls looked after, what a palaver and in the end to no avail. I then remembered part of the plan for Chris if he wouldn’t take himself to hospital then we would ring EDT (Emergency Duty Team) so I dug out the number. However EDT suggested that he take himself to a&e or ring the out of hours doctor, so because we still had no one to watch the girls we opted for out of hours. After a doctor rang back to speak to him they then decided to ring EDT and get back to him, on getting back to him she said he would have to take himself to a&e… why was it so hard to understand that I couldn’t get four little children up there and Chris wouldn’t go without me, nor did I feel he was safe enough to be on his own. The doctor asked Chris if she could speak to me where she basically told me childcare isn’t the problem of the NHS, a neighbour or something would have them (I has asked EVERYONE) and that I just needed to get him up there. I again explained the crisis plan and the fact he wouldn’t go without me and she just said well you will just have to sort it won’t you, because

‘He doesn’t warrant an ambulance now does he it wouldn’t be appropriate use of the ambulance service’

Now what I really wanted to say was… no he doesn’t at the moment but when he has been left to take all his medication, has left the house and gone missing, has the Police out looking for him and they call an ambulance it would have been easier if someone could have helped him. PREVENTION! (Not a word that goes with mental health)

So what do I do? Oh yes, I sit here watching him suffer and praying to God he can just get through the next minute and the next until something changes and enables him to seek help. That is just it though, if our Home Treatment Team had accepted his referral upon leaving hospital it wouldn’t have come to this, he hasn’t even been out of hospital a week and he is really very unwell again.  I think it is safe to say, his ‘crisis plan’ isn’t even worth the paper it is written on, because what help have we been able to get today? Nothing, just a lot of pointless phone calls with the answer, ‘go to a&e’ which actually is the least appropriate place for a person having a mental health crisis!!!

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‘Nothing ever looks good through tired eyes’

Life currently entails a never ending number of school runs, trips up to the hospital to see Chris, looking after him when he is allowed day leave and the everyday tasks that come with having a house to run. This leaves very little time for me to do anything else; because when I do have five moments to spare I am too exhausted to do anything.

Once Christmas and New Year were out the way I felt that low and heavy feeling that what everyone hypes up and talks about for months and prepares for is now gone, the reality that the norms of everyday life just continues and that it is all over for another year. This is then met with the fact the girls were starting back for a new term at school and I would be back to walking three school runs a day, which feels like the equivalent of a human yoyo. On top of those I have Chris to see too, ward rounds to attend; this is when I feel like a single parent, only it is harder because I have Chris too.

Last night after a week of school runs, Chris having some day leave, attending his ward round and the fact I am so tired at the moment, I felt really sad, sad that Chris has been in hospital for almost five weeks, sad that I long for the Chris I recognise to come back, and while I see glimmers and hold on to that it is so hard. I felt sad that I was sitting on my own again, everyone was asleep, it was just me and while I like my own company the realities of my life at the moment were hitting me once again.

‘Nothing ever looks good through tired eyes’

This couldn’t be truer for me at the moment, some rest and some sleep would do me the world of good but they are both something so difficult to come by.


Saying Goobye to 2012

For me 2012 wasn’t a great year, like most years there are some highlights, Cora born safely into the world, my gorgeous family, four healthy and happy children and a partner who I love to bits. It however has been extremely hard, nothing more so than lately. Watching the person you love self destruct in front of you to get so unwell and feeling totally helpless is something I always have and always will find very difficult.

I don’t like new year, I never have, I find the chimes of Big Ben at midnight, the fireworks display all very difficult, I rarely get through a new year without getting upset, last year I had gone to bed and I woke up to the countdown and fireworks at midnight, I looked to the side of me and Chris was there, I snuggled up, lay my head back down on my pillow, what more did I need? Three little people all fast asleep and Chris next to me.

This year was very different, earlier in the evening yesterday I had a phone call from Chris to say he had asked for overnight leave and staff wanted my opinion, so I asked what they thought and he said he didn’t know, so I requested he asked them to ring me when they had spoken with the doctor if they wanted my opinion. I get a phone call a little while later from a nurse, I told her I wasn’t sure and asked for her opinion, she said they didn’t think it was such a good idea but wanted my opinion as well, she said he had been actively having suicidal thoughts so I said yes I knew that, to a score of 10. She said that they wouldn’t be letting him on leave and would let him know, that was the end of the phone call. After about fifteen minutes I get a message from Chris telling me ‘I f**king hate you, I am never telling you anything again’ my heart sunk, I asked him why, he said ‘because you stopped me having leave, you told them I had been a number 10’ I had told them he was a 10 but she already knew he was feeling suicidal and at no point did I say yes or no because I didn’t know. Since when was this up to me? Since when is he in my care? Yes I appreciate them asking my opinion but their basis on granting leave or not should be on their shoulders and not put onto mine. Needless to say I was so upset, I had spent most of the afternoon organising taxis (with it being New Years Eve) and childcare for the girls, and now he wouldn’t even talk to me, let alone see me, all because a nurse had implied it was my opinion that made them say no to leave.

When he did finally contact me again, he still didn’t realise it wasn’t my fault, he was still taking it all out on me, I was exhausted, as selfish as it sounded I needed to see him as much as he had wanted to see me because I knew when the clock struck twelve I would be on my own. Taking myself up to bed at around ten o’clock, I snuggled down praying that I wouldn’t wake at midnight to all the fireworks, sadly just like the year before I did only this time I lay there and looked around, there was a gentle sound of Cora breathing but the bed next to me lay empty, tears rolled down my cheeks and I thought to myself ‘Happy New Year?’