It’s two and a half years since I became Bridget’s carer. Arguably, it’s the best thing I ever did, but it hasn’t been without its problems!
I originally published this post back in 2015, then removed it because it was a bit miserable, not suitable for a travel blog. But a few people have asked me where it went, so I’m republishing it.
If you’re feeling fed up, don’t read this post. It’ll make you feel worse, and that’s not my intention. *If you are feeling a bit low, please seek support*
4 Things I Hate About Being a Full-Time Carer
1. I’m Invisible
Since quitting my job to become a carer, I’m invisible. I often wonder if I dropped dead during the night would anybody notice.
Of course, this is ridiculous, Bridget and the kids are here, and they’d miss me.
But, apart from them, who else cares?
I’d leave for work in a previous life, chat with neighbours, call into the garage, catch up with colleagues, do my job, come home, share the day’s stories, etc. You get the gist. I was visible. I was participating, and if I didn’t, somebody would notice.
Bimbling has been our saviour. It gets us out of the house. When we’re not bimbling, I can go days without leaving home. Even shopping is delivered.
Of course, I could take Bridget out for a walk in her wheelchair, but this also comes with an element of invisibility.
I’ve noticed that if anyone does engage in a conversation, they talk to me, not Bridget.
She’s unable to speak because she’s unable to walk?
People go out of their way to avoid any engagement, opting for secret glances instead.
Maybe they think whatever Bridget has is catching… who knows?
2. I’m Useless
I’m not a trained carer. First and foremost, I’m Bridget’s partner.
I’m emotionally attached, I feel her pain (sort of), I get upset when she’s upset, I say stupid things at the most inappropriate times, and I try to help but often get it wrong. I worry that my lack of experience makes matters worse.
I feel useless. II feel more of a hindrance than a help. I think I should be doing more, but I don’t want to strip Bridget of the little independence she has left.
I have no way of measuring my performance, no one to compare myself to and no way of knowing if I’m doing it right. I suppose Bridget’s still here, so I must be doing something right.
3. I’m Scared
The last time I was scared was when I was a kid. I’ve been nervous, apprehensive even jittery during adulthood but never all-out scared.
Caring scares me. I’ll go beyond that and say it frightens my life because it controls everything I do.
Every decision I make, plans I have, and frankly, any future involves caring. I used to be in control, make conscious decisions, stand or fall by my actions, but caring commitments now have to be factored into everything– it’s scary.
4. I’m Human
I think this one is probably my biggest hate of all. I’m human, and it’s a fact. I took a perfectly everyday productive life and turned it on its head. I knew exactly what I was doing at the time, and I do not regret it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel sad about what I left behind.
I can’t leave it there …
I’m glad I wrote this post, it was cathartic, but it would be irresponsible if I just left it there. When I think about it, my caring responsibilities are nothing compared to others, so I should feel lucky.
So, from here on in:
1. I’m not invisible
No, I’m not. Anything but invisible. I’m here on the web thingy sharing our story, I’ve made friends in all four corners of the world because of this blog, and I’ve met some lovely people on our bimbles.
You, too, can get active on the net or social media, and if you feel confident enough, you can join a local carers group and share your woes.
You are not alone, there are millions of us in the same boat, and all we need to do is take the first step to become visible.
2. I’m not useless
No, I’m not. That’s just silly talk, and it’s a feeling, not a reality, and part of the transition process.
I may not be a trained nurse, physiotherapist, counsellor or psychologist, but I have my uses.
I’m on hand to help physically, I can offer emotional support, and I can and have helped avoid accidents. I don’t want awards, promotions, or pay raises, and I get all the recognition I need from Bridget.
3. I’m not scared
Caring can be a bit scary, but it is what it is. It’s entirely acceptable to feel a bit unnerved. The longer you do it, the sooner fear passes.
Now that I think about it, caring is an opportunity. I’m spending more time with Bridget than ever before, I’m learning new skills, and I’ve got more time to pursue other interests – there’s absolutely nothing to be scared of.
4. I’m still human
Yep, there’s no denying it… I’m human. Just a run of the mill Joe, an average human, not a superhuman.
It’s entirely acceptable to feel a bit sad, and it would be strange if I didn’t. I’m probably looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses anyway.
Even after all this time, I still have bad days, but I have accepted that we have a whole new exciting adventure ahead of us.
And, what makes it exciting is you guys. We love hearing from you, and there is no better feeling than when we receive a comment or an. It does cheer us up.
What’s Caring Like For You?
I hope I haven’t made you feel miserable. If I did, I’m sorry that wasn’t my intention. I even thought twice about republishing this post but then decided it might help someone going through the same thing.
You can also check out more of my “living life in the slow lane” musing in the Chronic Illness section.