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


Goodbye 2013

As I look back over the last year it has been hugely emotional, I don’t honestly know how I managed half of what I did or how it took so long for me to reach the point in which I couldn’t do what I was doing anymore. It had more downs than it did ups and I will be glad to close this year and in doing so that chapter of my life. As I keep saying the past couple of months have been so challenging and I really lost who Sarah was, I was constantly on auto pilot just trying to get to the next day. I forever felt like I was drowning and it was taking everything to keep my head above water to just breathe, yet every now and again I would take in more water and was slipping further and further under for longer and longer, thankfully I managed to get out before I drowned.

Looking back over how I felt, bringing back memories is hard, it hurts and probably will do for a long while. The thing is I know I am a strong person, I don’t have to prove that to anyone anymore but it doesn’t mean that ending my relationship with Chris wasn’t difficult, it was right yes, but hard as well. I realised this year that I lost the man I fell in love with and there is no getting him back, I can only hope that I can keep my best friend, the person I have spent so much time with, have four children with and am not willing to just throw away.

The girls have been amazing, I am super proud of the way they have handled everything, still happy and healthy, they take most things in their stride. I am ever so proud of the reports I get back from school, the one hundred percent attendance certificates they come home with and most importantly the happy little smiley faces that look back at me every day. I am so blessed to have them, they really have been what has got me through the tough times and given me a reason to keep fighting even when I felt like completely giving up.

So where does this leave my outlook on 2014? I want to continue to support Chris and updating my blog but I really want to continue to find Sarah again. I need to laugh more, smile more and accept it is ok have needs and want to look after myself as well. I know my girls will be happy with happy parents, that is priority and I hope that Chris will continue to make slow progress to a more positive future for the sake of our children. It is pretty simple for me really; I just want to be happy. I found a quote the other day which summed things up for me really…

“Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so love the people who treat you right, forget about the ones who don’t, and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.” – Harvey MacKay

Thank you for all your support in 2013, the messages, tweets, texts and those who just read. I couldn’t have genuinely done it without you. I hope you have had a lovely 2013 and if not are able to pull out a couple of positives from it. Wishing you all the best for 2014 and lots more blogging! Thank you.


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Ward round before Christmas

The Friday before Christmas I attended a ward round for Chris. It was the first one that I had been able to go to since the old consultant had left. The last ward round had been held on the day of my Grandad’s funeral so understandably I couldn’t make it and they didn’t want to rearrange it either. We were called into the lounge where it was taking place, in the room was his Social Worker, a nurse from the ward, the Advanced Practitioner, the new Consultant (temporary? Permanent? Who Knows?) and Chris and I.

Not a lot had changed basically; they were still deciding what to do about Chris, would he be going to a unit? Will he be staying longer where he is and then therapy in the community? The only thing we had established was that an LSU (low secure unit) wasn’t an option after they said he wasn’t suitable. Next problem was their report with their recommendations in hadn’t been completed so everyone wanted to wait for that. Meanwhile though… we wait and wait a bit more it would seem.

No further forward for what Chris future looks like he asked for leave for our daughter’s birthday and also Christmas day. This did make me nervous but as the past couple of weeks had gone without incident I was happy for that to happen. He was allowed two hours for our daughter’s birthday and if that went ok, he was allowed six hours on Christmas day.

Chris had his leave over the birthday and Christmas and both went ok, he struggled but understandably so under the circumstances but otherwise it went without hitch. The girls loved seeing him, Cora didn’t recognise him which made things a little difficult but then he has been out of her life for so long. He managed to handle that better than I thought he might bearing in mind that must be tough for any parent to deal with.

I received a letter a couple of days ago, Chris appealed his section before Christmas, which I far from agree with but his tribunal is being held at the end of January. It worries me that he is thinking too much of the here and now and that his outcome for the future would be helped greatly with more input at the moment. He however doesn’t want to go to a rehabilitation unit and the only way of not being forced is if he isn’t on his section.  I just wish he could see that by doing a lot of hard work now would perhaps give him the best chance of a future of maintaining a better level of well.

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The past few months have been so difficult for me, spending more time as a single mum of four affectively and running back and forth to the hospital, feeling like no one was listening to me, getting frustrated with mental health services and how slow things can be. Also having my dearly loved Grandad pass away, feeling unwell on and off, and struggling with my own emotions and tiredness. This took its toll hugely on me, to the point where I ended up in some pretty dark places myself mentally.

Chris has spent most of the last year in hospital and looking back over that time I have been grieving, which is pretty hard for me to explain and you might not understand unless you have found yourself in my situation. I was grieving for Chris, the person I fell in love with, the man that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and the person that no longer exists. Chris is still here yes, but he isn’t the person I fell in love with, it doesn’t mean I don’t still love him, I do, he is my best friend and the father of my girls, of course I will always love him but I am not in love with him. For the last year the last little bits of the person I love were visible until they sadly all slipped away.

I always maintained that I would never leave Chris unless the time came where I just didn’t get anything in return, because that is when there would cease to be a relationship anymore. The hardest thing for me to then realise was it wasn’t at all selfish to have needs and needs that actually needed to be met. I am not talking much either, simple things like wanted to be loved and cared for, hugged and have someone who asks how I am. In the end I gave everything to the point it was killing me and he was too consumed by his illness to look after himself let alone make sure I was ok. For the sake of my children having their mother in their lives I had to take the huge decision I talked about on my blog post ‘The hardest thing I have done’

It is hard to come to terms with seeing the person you fell in love with but knowing that mentally that person isn’t there anymore and that it isn’t possible to get them back because believe me I have tried. I am determined to keep my best friend though if at all possible as I value so much the last eight years we have spent together. It is a different kind of grief from that of dealing with my Grandad’s death but it still very much hurts in similar ways. I could hope, dream and pray for the Chris I fell in love with back, but just like my Grandad, he has gone now and accepting that is very difficult.


TWIM Award 2013 Winner

twim award winner graphicAfter a relatively busy day celebrating my second eldest daughters 5th birthday I thought I would relax and catch up on Twitter. I was absolutely shocked and honoured to see that I am the Carer winner of the TWIM Award that I had been shortlisted for a few months ago especially because the two blogs I was up against are equally as amazing. Overwhelmed was an understatement because I didn’t for one moment think I would ever have so many views, let alone be receiving an award.

As many of you who already follow A Carers Eyes will know, I started out this blogging journey because I couldn’t find stories or blogs of other mental health carers in similar situations. I decided that in case others like me are looking for the same kind of understanding or to hear of someone else’s journey I would start blogging my own. What I never imagined was just how much of a way of coping with the ongoing journey of Chris and family life this would become for me.

I am really grateful and hugely thankful to everyone who has and continues to read my blog and those of you who continue to be of such support to me. I hope to have made a difference to other carers who are struggling to not feel so alone and have someone they can relate to. I couldn’t be happier that as a result of my blog it has helped a wide range of professionals and those still in training to better understand and consider carers and their needs too. Even if I had managed to change one person’s opinion that is good enough for me but to have done with many is even better. Thank you again.


‘First to blame, last to be heard’ again.

christmas treeI had a really lovely visit with Chris last night, we discussed his ward round, the plans he has for the future and maintaining a friendship not just for the children’s sake but because we still value each other’s company. It was nice to have a chat, hear him speak with hope and like he can see the future and that he wants to get well to be the best dad he can be. Honestly it was great to chat and it made me come away thinking I had taken a huge gamble as to which way ending our relationship could have gone and the risk seemed to have been so worth it.

I left feeling relieved and happy, asked to be let out of the ward and just as I reached the doors with the nursing assistant I said to her ‘sometimes the hardest thing is sometimes the best, I have noticed he seems to be doing better’ so she replied with ‘so have we.’ I explained my decision to take a step back in the hope that Chris would be able to start trying to help him so she said ‘do you really think that? You seemed to have perpetrated it.’ I just looked at her struggling for words and struggling to stop the tears from falling once again down my face when she turned around and said ‘oh sorry does that seem harsh?’ Really do you need to ask me that? REALLY? I told her just to let me out and I burst into tears.

Does she think I woke up not caring one day? Does she think I walked away happily without second thought? Does she think I ever wanted this to happen or that I didn’t do my damndest for years on end because I cared and loved him? Does she really think I woke up every day wanting to make Chris ill? That I nearly killed myself in the process because all I was ever trying to do was care for him and stop him from killing himself?

I fell to bits in the stair well, I walked across the hospital grounds to the Christmas tree and sat by the fountain, the rain began to fall on me but I didn’t care. I stared into the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree, thinking about what this woman had just said, thinking of the girls and Chris and wondering if my Grandad was ok in heaven with Grandma, I thought ahead to Christmas and cried. Really? She made me feel for all these months and years that I had done nothing but bring myself to the point where I wasn’t going to end up in hospital with Chris but simply not here at all that she then put all the blame on me for him being unwell.

Part of my decision to walk away was because of how I ended up being made to feel by staff on the ward, you have to remember that I might be hurting too, that I might have my own personal battles as well and sometimes when that was forgotten it got to the point where I couldn’t cope stepping foot on the ward. It is a pretty sad state of affairs when that happens. As I walked away last night, part of that confirmed I had done the right thing, another part of it devastated me, I will still be visiting Chris, I will still support him, I will still care and my girls need him regardless but what she said will more than likely and sadly stay with me forever.


The hardest thing I have done

christmas treeThe past few weeks have been the hardest of my life and I was struggling to get from one day to the next, I took the decision for my own sanity that I was going to have to take a big step back. I was literally killing myself trying to support Chris, look after the girls and the house. I actually lost Sarah, I wasn’t sure who I was anymore but all I knew for sure was I was not in the slightest bit happy. On Thursday the 28th November I received a phone call from my mum during the day to say she had come home from work because Grandad had deteriorated and they were travelling up to Manchester to be with him. I knew immediately that things now looked very different and it would only be a matter of time before he slipped away.

That evening I visited Chris, emotionally delicate and worn out, feeling like the whole world was on my shoulders. I planned to tell him that I needed to look after myself at the moment and it didn’t mean I didn’t care any less but I could not keep doing this anymore. He seemed quite accepting of the situation and I explained about my Grandad, that he was slowly slipping away. I walked out of the hospital feeling a sense of relief that I could just look after myself for awhile, I didn’t have to keep visiting a place I couldn’t stand going to anymore.

Sadly the next day I had a phone call at around half past ten in the morning to say my Grandad has peacefully passed away, surrounded by family and I was obviously very upset. The funeral was going to be held the following Friday which I knew was when Chris ward round was booked; I also wanted to tell Chris in person that Grandad had passed away. I went to see Chris that night; I walked across the hospital grounds, a beautiful tree lit up with twinkling lights greeted me. I felt a huge sadness, so upset, so lonely and tired but I knew I needed to do this. I went to Chris room and told him about Grandad, I tried to keep myself together and I explained that I had to look after myself I needed to take care of me now. I was so tired and exhausted, this was taking its toll on me more than ever and I just know we couldn’t continue like this.

Chris named nurse came in and asked to borrow me, I followed her to the office where she asked me what was wrong, I didn’t know what to say and just burst into tears. We talked for awhile and she suggested I go home, I agreed, she told me they would look after Chris and to just get home and look after myself. I went to say goodbye to Chris, I apologised that it had now come to this and even though I had tried to fight the tears they started to fall down my face. I said goodbye and walked away. I left the ward, walking back through the hospital grounds; I stopped to admire the Christmas tree and just cried. I couldn’t keep myself together anymore, but how was I going to get home in this state, I waited awhile and managed to put on a brave face before getting a taxi home.

This as you can imagine has been a horrendous time for me, spending so long giving everything I could to Chris and the girls took its toll and in the end I paid the ultimate price of our relationship. When Chris wasn’t getting any better, the ward couldn’t anymore than they were, still no decision on a unit the only thing left to change was our relationship in the hope they he would almost have to tell them how he was and fight for himself to get well because I wouldn’t always be there to do it for him. The ward was shocked, I bet you are too? Sometimes the hardest thing to do is walk away, but sometimes it is the only option we have left.

I have agreed to continue to see Chris, to remain for now as nearest relative and carer, I didn’t for one moment wake up one morning and decide I didn’t care about him anymore, I just woke up one day and realise I was killing myself. I was going to end up leaving my children without a mum, I had to change something. I did this for Chris as much as for me, he has started opening up more, my visits now are pleasant, he has realised he needs to fight for himself and he wants to get better. He doesn’t want the children to have no father so he wants to fight to get out and be the best Dad he can to them.  While I am devastated that I have lost the person I got together with over eight years ago, I am really hoping that I can keep who has always been my best friend, and for the sake of our children I only hope we can work up from here and make things happier for everyone involved. If you had have told me this months ago I would have laughed at you and not believed it, yet it is possibly the best thing that could have happened.


God bless you Grandad


Sadly, last Friday 30th November 2013 my Grandad passed away peacefully surrounded by family at the grand old age of ninety five. An amazing man, friend, father, grand-father and great grand-father he will be sadly missed by many. No more pain or suffering and back in the arms of Grandma. I love him and will miss him very much. My mum’s family home will now be gone, which too is a loss but the memories will live forever. Rest In Peace Grandad.

The Rose Beyond the Wall

A rose once grew where all could see
Sheltered beside a garden wall
And, as the days past swiftly by
It spread its branches, straight and tall

One day, a beam of light shone through
A crevice that had opened wide
The rose bent gently toward its warmth
Then passed beyond to the other side

Now, you who deeply feel its loss
Be comforted, the rose blooms there
It’s beauty even greater now
Nurtured by God’s own loving care.

By A L Frink