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 really suitable for a travel blog. But, a few people have asked me where it went so I’m republishing it.
If you’re feeling a bit 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?
In a previous life, I’d leave for work, 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 simply take Bridget out for a walk in her wheelchair, but this also comes with an element of invisibility.
I’ve noticed, if anyone does engage in a conversation, they talk to me not Bridget.
She’s obviously unable to speak because she’s unable to walk?
I also find people go out of their way to avoid any engagement, opting for clandestine 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, I try to help but often get it wrong and I worry my lack of experience makes matters worse.
I feel useless, I feel more of a hindrance than a help, I feel I should be doing more but 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 –
I think 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, in fact, I’ll go beyond that and say it frightens the life out of me because it controls everything I do.
Every decision I make, plans I have and frankly, any future I have 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, it’s a fact. I took a perfectly normal productive life and turned it on its head. I knew exactly what I was doing at the time and I do not regret it for one moment, 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 actually feel lucky.
So, from here on in:
#1. I’m not invisible –
No, I’m not, in fact, I’m 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 very nice 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. It’s a feeling, not a reality, and it’s all part of the transition process.
I may not be a trained nurse, physiotherapist, counsellor or psychologist, but I do 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 rises, I get all the recognition I need from Bridget.
#3. I’m not scared –
Caring can be a bit scary but hey, 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 average human, not a superhuman.
It’s entirely acceptable to feel a bit sad, 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, there is no better feeling when we receive a comment or an email, it really 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 lifestyle section.