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My story as a carer

Community Member

I am a 37 year old mother of 5 girls, a carer to my husband who has PTSD and my aging parents who both along with other aging medical conditions suffer with depression and we all live under 1 roof!  I am also at university studying a bachelor of business part-time maintaining a distinction grade average.

On a day to day basis, I deal with my ex and his partner, my husbands ex and her partner and the calendar events of our 8 yours mine and ours children as well as medical appointments and the normal day to day of caring for others.  You could say my life is hectic, and true other people seem to always comment on how busy I must be, and how hard it must be.  I do not see it that way, truth be told it is my blessing and my curse. 

It is my blessing because I can give back to my parents for all the time they have given to me, I can watch them live out the rest of their years in the comfort of our family home surrounded each day by their grand children, while being cared for by someone who loves them and who is willing to make their golden years, well, golden.

However it is also my curse, because there I pretty much have to make an appointment with myself to get sick or to take a day off.  Truthfully sometimes I feel very overwhelmed and resentful.  I realize that I have put myself in this situation, I also realize that circumstances have compounded my situation, and I understand that I could give up uni, and place my parents in care, and that it would be easy.

But I cant do that. I love giving able to give back, my family is everything to me.

What I did not appreciate was the local mental health team who told me I was depressed (without talking to me), that i needed to go on medication and that docs would have to come and assess the situation as no one is capable of doing what I do. I manage, at times it is more difficult than others, some weeks are a breeze, and others well not so good, but we all have times like that. That is called life!

 I understand that as a carer depression can be a real issue, however, I have yet to find a service that will help me in my unique situation to prevent the from happening.  So without that safety net, I still manage on my own.  I take each day as it comes, and I utilize the tools that I do have and can access to keep me in the best mental shape I can.  That is one of the reasons that I went back to uni, to give me something totally outside my day to day roles to do, to keep my mind active, and to socailise in circles outside of my daily routine - also the fact that the internet and computers have made uni available to me at home!

After I separated from my first husband I had major depression, like all divorces it was not pleasant, we required a police presence just to be in the same room. I sought help, I learnt to recognize when things were starting to go south, and I learnt to get help as soon as I could, this brings me back to the local mental health team who decided that I just needed to be medicated again and everything would be hunky dory.

Well, I refused the medication, they called docs (docs saw no problems, our house is clean, everyone is well fed and everything is properly maintained and in order).

I took the family on a cruise, where we could all have a holiday in the same place so I could keep an eye on everyone, but we could be separate at the same time!  And it worked a treat! I got the time i needed to recharge and recuperate, and my family was all taken care of. 

The choice to take on my family members in the caring role was an easy one, I am a trained personal carer, and at work I was used to caring for 8 high dependent residents at one time, so it was easy to apply those principles to my home life.  It was also easy to remove my emotions from my day to day caring role, by not taking things too much to heart and to not let daily challenges drag me down.

2 Replies 2

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

dear Overflow, sorry I have only read your story today (sunday).

You are a truly remarkable lady to be able to accomplish all these feats, and deserve full marks and I am sure that your family do love you for being able to do these things.

There would be no need what's ever that you need any medication, maybe just a glass of champagne. Well done. L Geoff. x

Community Member

Hello Overflow,

I trust that, as a mother, you know what it means to be a teacher and educate people, including but not limited to little people.

As a person doing a bachelor of business, I trust that you have become familiar with the principles of human resources management, including the ability to evaluate competency and delegate tasks.

When you put these things together, what do you see? I see the makings of an organisational structure, where everyone supports each other and helps keep the organisation functioning effectively, without placing too much pressure on any one person.

It seems pretty clear to me that, as far as your family goes, you're Chief Operations Officer (COO), coordinating the mess.

My first suggestion is to communicate the structure of the organisation to everyone in the organisation. Call a family meeting, and discuss the command structure, tasks, duties, substitutions, back ups, contingencies, and have someone typing minutes. Discuss your calendar, obligations, and make sure everyone receives "personal time". 

Give each person the ability and right to choose which tasks they prefer, and if there are any conflicts introduce a bidding system, like an auction, for the desirable tasks, and a tender or reverse auction system for the undesirable tasks. Put the power back in the hands of the people and they will give you more than you ever thought possible. Remember to show everyone lots of appreciation, and place the whole encouraging, nurturing, appreciating, incentifying process as your #1 job. 

This will provide you with more time and space to breath and recover. Continue to try and apply everything you're learning in your business degree to your home lifestyle, and the new things your learning will more firmly cement in your mind, increasing your grades and improving efficiency at home. 

Remember that you're priorities are different at home though, in the sense that you're not after profit but happiness, and work toward measuring how happy the team is in general, and how each person is faring, with regular progress reports. 

Do they feel satisfied, what would they like changed, can they suggest a way to achieve this that doesn't negatively or unfairly affect others in the family, how can we all benefit most from small tweaks to the system as young people grow up, are they receiving things they don't know they're supposed to learn, like social skills they can use for dating, and the appropriate warnings, etc.

Don't do most of this yourself. The key word is to delegate.