I write this primarily as a ‘mum’ but also the main carer of my daughter who suffers from mental health problems. I have tried to be supportive to her and have suffered hopelessness and despair myself as I have watched her struggle over the years to regain her identity and self-esteem. I have been there when she attempted to take her own life, found evidence of self-harming, watched her abuse her prescribed medication, struggle to complete a degree at university, then at her lowest ebb have to come home to ‘feel safe’ and ‘keep safe’ as she couldn’t be trusted. The feeling of despair, helplessness on my part was indescribable and I sincerely hope the future and my daughter’s involvement in the recovery programme will mean, as a family we will never be down that dark hole again.
I’m fully aware that life will never be perfect, but then again, whose life in the ‘real world’ is? My daughter is on a road that will have bumps and obstacles in her way, traffic lights that will at times be at a stop …… And seem like the amber and green won’t come to enable the journey to continue……… It will. Our journey has already begun. It’s so encouraging to watch my daughter now blossom, take control of her life, accept the responsibilities that come with that and move forward to a bright future. She is so enthusiastic about the work she is involved with through recovery and is seeking employment which I never ever thought was possible.
Mental health affects all walks of life. My daughter is a very intelligent, highly motivated, caring individual, who has come back literally from the darkest hole. It has not been an easy journey and we would never have got to this stage now without the dedicated input from our GP, CPNs, nurses at the day facility my daughter attended, and the medication prescribed by her consultant.
I myself have been supported greatly by my GP and need medication myself to help me cope with the situations we face daily as a family. I am also very aware of the importance of taking care of myself. I exercise regularly and this, at times, was my “escapism” from the harsh reality of caring for a loved one with mental health problems. Nowadays I don’t feel the need to “escape”. I exercise because I enjoy it and it gives me the “feel good factor.” I also used a close network of friends and family as support to me when times were difficult. I never felt that I was alone because there was always someone I could call if and when I needed to.
My advice to anyone who is a carer is to ask for help. You don’t need to fight this battle alone.