I was having a think about some of the things I have learnt over the past few years while caring for Chris and while there have been plenty; one that always jumps out at me is the fact I learnt very quickly that if I wasn’t going to have the wool pulled over my eyes I needed to educate myself about things as much as possible so I had understanding of what was meant to happen. If you deal with mental health services you will more or less know that what should happen and what does, can be two opposite things.
If I am given any information about Chris diagnosis or his symptoms I always take it upon myself to arm myself with as much knowledge as possible, talking to our GP, talking to those who have been or are going through similar or the same things, reading, research, the internet and as many other means as I can in order to better understand.
I do this not only with diagnosis and symptoms but also how to help someone, care plans, information about medication, making sure I understood the mental health act to an extent in which I could find myself needing the knowledge, what ways Chris should/could be being helped. I am also very lucky to have a Cousin that is a Mental Health Social Worker which has often played a part on giving me advice on ways in which I can suggest others could help Chris as well.
It has proven crucial in my role in caring for Chris and helping him seek the help he needs, it is a lot easier to fob someone off who doesn’t understand what should and shouldn’t happen, if you are armed with knowledge and seen to know what you are talking about most healthcare professionals find it extremely difficult. I suppose the thing I noticed the most was I was heavily stereotyped by almost everyone I came across, they saw… where I live, my age (not known exactly but I look young) that I have four children, they knew we were on benefits (far from choice), a partner with mental health issues and they put it all together and assumed like almost everyone else that led to me being a work shy scrounger that wasn’t educated enough to properly look after anyone let alone intelligent enough to stop them fobbing me off with their poor excuses so we would go away and save them work. Hey they probably thought I left school young… well ok that bit is true… would you have known if I hadn’t told you? I very much doubt it.
The thing is the few that are like that don’t make it easy for those of us that don’t fit the stereotype, so the moment I worked out how people saw me for where I live, how old I was etc, it made me work a lot harder to prove them wrong, that I fight for my family, I educate myself about the problems Chris faces, how the mental health system works, I think you get the picture. The good thing about this was, those that know me really well GP, community nurse from our doctors surgery realised that I am always arming myself with knowledge, not only because it does interest me but because the next time a doctor tries it on with fobbing Chris or I off.. I will show them what someone who is 23, has four children, is a full time Carer, doesn’t own her own home and left school at the age of 14 is can possibly know!!!