Sunday, 23 September 2012


Caring is one of my passionate subjects. I could go on for quite some time about the debt that society owes unpaid carers... to be truthful though, before I became one I had probably never heard of "carers". Like most others I didn't choose to become a carer but when you marry someone with needs whether they are mental or physical it just happens. I'm not really writing this post though to whinge about being a carer but really to say how a caring role can change so much over time. Things are very different now from when we first married in 2004. Back then I was Gareth's wife and carer of a man with complex mental health problems and I thought that was complicated. Last Friday we went to the (amazing) Princess Trust Carers Centre and Gareth registered as MY carer. We are now registered as mutual carers. Sometimes I think we are 64 not 34.

Gareth's recently developed some physical problems - arthralgia and spondylosis - and I had to admit that despite the fact that I'm supposed to look after him he does an awful lot of looking after me since I was diagnosed with ME. I also have depression so we both deal with each others mental and physical problems and somehow manage to maintain a loving relationship and committed marriage.

An argument last week was the deciding factor in us reaching out to the carers centre. I've been registered since 2004 and cannot praise them enough because without them I'm pretty sure I would've gone under. Though that depth of struggle is no longer there, we are at a stage where we need to understand how to manage our own and each other's illnesses so it can stop causing problems. I can accept this is my life but I need to find a way that we can still live despite it. I don't want to be old before my time. We are lucky to still be very much in love after 8 years and completely committed to a life with each other and all that brings with it so we will find a way.

For anyone who is a carer I do have some advice.

  • First rule of caring - put yourself first. If you aren't well you can't look after someone else! 
  • Contact your local carers centre today! They are absolutely necessary. 
  • And then read this book... The Selfish Pigs Guide To Caring because you're not alone in feeling angry, frustrated, lonely and afraid.
I think being married by itself can be hard work but throw illness into the mix as well and you have to fight harder but for us we both know it's worth it in the end.

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