What do i enjoy doing in my spare time?
The first thing my daughter said when she read the About Me on this blog was ' Mum you haven't actually really said anything about you'
And that's the point.
Over the past 18 months my life has become immersed in keeping someone else safe and meeting all K's needs that i seem to have completely lost any sense of myself.
Caring for someone else can be so consuming with a constant trail of appointments, meetings, telephone calls and conversations all based around that person i start to see only her.
It got so bad recently that i started to forget to eat, stopped listening to my favourite music and couldn't even answer simple questions like 'whats your favourite book?'
It was pointed out to me that i was 'the shell of the person i used to be' by someone close to me and although that statement was hurtful both K and i knew it was true.
I've never been an overly social person but before i gave up work i was a supervisor for a team of 12 and spent my days dealing with NHS patients and providing services.
I really enjoyed my job although it was stressful at times.
18 months later and very few of these colleagues have stayed in touch and I'll do a Usain- style sprint to avoid bumping into them in town. Mostly because i hate the person I've become, I don't wear make-up anymore and haven't had my hair cut in months and also because i hate the way people look at me when they ask how K is.
I Always think they either think that they are so glad its not their child going through this terrible time or how much I've changed.
So whats the answer to protecting ones identity and looking after yourself when caring?
Here are some ideas
Contact your local services for a carer's Assessment, as this can open doors to more support.
Eat a balanced diet and look after yourself.
Find an online hobby like Ancestry or Comping
Consider Respite care or staying with a family member.
Don't be embarrassed to ask family and friends to help out
Ask a family member or friend to sit for an hour and -
- Take an Exercise Class
- Have a treatment at a salon
- Meet a friend for Coffee
- Grab a cuppa and a book
- Join a carers group
In reality taking time out for myself is very difficult.
At the moment things are a little better, K has started College three days a week and i am finding more time for myself.
The important thing to remember is that if you don't maintain your own well-being you will not be able to care for the person that needs you and that sometimes you need to be a bit selfish and say actually this is what i want to do.
If anyone has any other ideas for taking some time out for yourself then please do leave a comment. Any ideas are appreciated.
There is a great book that may help if you would like further reading on Amazon called
The carers Handbook which is full of useful advice and information on a broad range of caring
You can find it here
For more focused advice on caring for those with mental health issues i strongly recommend an introduction to coping with depression for carers written by Tony Frais
The book explores the nature of depression and how to cope as a carer, the treatments available for the sufferer and advice on how to maintain your own wellbeing as a carer.