After years caring for her husband, and being a mother and carer for seven children, Andrea has been able to set up enough supports to allow her to step back a little from her caring role. “I had to find another me, but I was nowhere to be found. What I did find is a fantastic team of people to fill my role. The saying ‘it takes a village’ is quite fitting in this situation.”
Ten years younger!
It’s amazing how many times I’ve heard the words “you look ten years younger” in the past four months. I didn’t realise the impact that being a carer had on me. Yes, I was always tired and often unwell, but like many carers, I put my head down and got on with it. For me, that was a lot. I not only cared for my husband, but also for two adult children and two grandchildren, and I was mum and practically sole parent to three more children.
Four months ago, I was lucky enough to step back from my caring role a little, though I’ve also become a business manager in return to keep things running smoothly.
In hindsight, I knew it had an impact, particularly on my mental health, but didn’t realise until now the effect it had on my physical health. I knew it was all too much for one person to carry, but who else was there?
I didn’t even know I was a carer. I thought this is what you do as a wife, mother and grandmother. Friends would often comment, “you do so much for your family” or “do you ever sleep?” or “the amount you do for your family, I wonder where you find the time”.
I didn’t get enough sleep. I’d fall into bed exhausted, only to lay there worrying or feeling guilty I couldn’t give or do more. I was stretched in so many directions that to be able to sit down and watch a movie with my kids seemed impossible. I wish there were ten-minute movies. Then I might just make it through the whole movie before falling asleep.
When going through the NDIS process with my husband, they asked him “Who is your carer?’, and he said, “Well, I suppose my wife is.” I attended a workshop to help understand NDIS and the process, which a few services had representatives attend. One of those was a carers’ service which explained the carer’s role. As they were speaking, I remember thinking, “I do that.” Although, I still have difficulties working out if I’m carer or mum in so many situations.
Now, going back to the last four months, I had spent many months prior setting up the right supports. I had to find another me, but I was nowhere to be found. What I did find is a fantastic team of people to fill my role. The saying “it takes a village” is quite fitting in this situation. I do wonder if I had had the support years ago how different life might have been. I realise now that I might have reached the best outcome of all: I can’t do this alone!
I am still a carer and keep the wheels turning, but my role has been reduced. Apparently, I look ten years younger.