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The profound affect of caring - Carers UK Forum

The profound affect of caring

For anyone who is bereaved or no longer providing care.
79 posts
I haven't visited the forum for a long time. It's encouraging to see this space for former carers. A really good move. I read about Derek's jury service problem in the Carers UK email and came on the site to comment on that - and was surprised to see this new section.

As I'm here, I thought I would just mention the impact of caring on my health.

I used to be a person who had never experienced significant mental health issues. In the 10 months since my mum died I have attempted suicide 4 times. This has been caused by the bereavement followed by a trauma 10 days later - the psychiatrists say that the physical and mental exhaustion (that I experienced as a result of being a carer in my mum's last few months) made me unable to cope with the traumatic event that closely followed my mum's death. I apparently had a near-psychotic reaction to the traumatic event, and went on to develop PTSD and dissociation. At a psychological assessment in December I was told that I had been profoundly affected by the experience of being my mum's sole carer in her last few months when she was incapable of doing anything for herself, and when I had no emotional or practical support.

I do not have much expectation of recovering as I have been unable to access psychological treatment as I am apparently still "too distressed".

I sometimes feel that all this is the price I have paid for being a carer. It seems so wrong.

Although I do not regret caring for my mum, I never imagined how I would be affected in the long-term. I would love the Government to know the profound affect that caring can have on a person, even after they stop caring.
I am so sorry you have been having such a rough time. I lost my Dad last September, I was fortunate to have more support at the time than you appear to have had, even so I had 'wobbly' days. Had I met with trauma soon after, I don't know how I would have reacted.

Please do not give up on the possibility of getting treatment in time. I have no experience of mental illness (yet?) so I do not know what else I can say to help, just come here for a rant if you feel like it.
I'm so sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time. I lost my dad last October, and was also his sole carer for a long time. The last period of his life was horrible, and I've found myself coping very badly since he died. I feel that I've become so depressed because I had so little resistance left, being physically and emotionally exhausted. It seemed strange to me at first that I'd always managed to cope somehow with all the difficulties of caring and yet fell to pieces when it was over. I think what you have said is exactly right, it's because we're so worn down by caring and because we're expected to 'recover' so quickly. This kind of caring takes over your life, there's no time or energy for anything else - we can't care for someone year after year, 24/7, without respite, and then adjust within weeks when that caring role is over. The government give us 8 weeks' continuing financial support, if we're lucky. How long is that to completely change your life, while dealing with all the practical and emotional issues arising from a bereavement.
In your case, cherish, you have had an additional trauma to deal with, is it any wonder that your mind says it's too much? Please don't feel that you will never recover, I imagine you've been told that you are 'too distressed' for certain treatments yet? They should still be helping you deal with that distress. Has your GP or specialist talked about a treatment plan? Do you have a CPN visit you?
It's only 10 months since you lost your mum. I had a melt down 2 years after my mum died, I'd been looking after dad since she died and it all became too much at that point because I'd been caring for dad and had no chance to mourn as I needed to, I started taking anti-depressants then and just carried on because there was never any respite.

I hope you'll keep using this forum to express your feelings and get support. All my best wishes to you, Lesley xx
Cherish, I am so sorry you are having such a rough time. I lost my dad 3 months before my hubby died in September and spent the last half of last year in varing degrees of shock. I've heard of other people who've been told they aren't ready or its too early for counselling I'm not sure why that is.
You are right though no one except fellow carers are aware of the intense physical and psycological effects of full time caring. It is no surprise that when it suddenly stops the body and mind react in the ways they do.
Please keep posting we are here to listen

Take care x
Thank you very much for your replies.

No, I don't have any support. The crisis team don't think they have anything to offer me, and a psychiatrist didn't think hospital would help. They offered me a weekly appointment with an Occupational Therapist, but I'm very good at keeping myself occupied, and it didn't help. They haven't offered me anything else apart from medication. They assess me as an ongoing risk of suicide but, as I have my mental capacity, I've been told that I have the right to make the choice to end my life, even though they may view that decision as unwise or eccentric . They think crisis intervention is unlikely to lower my risk of suicide.
Hugs Cherish

I can never understand how the mental health system works. Surely help to work through what has happened and how you feel about it could only help you.
I've never used them myself but I understand the samaritans are very helpful when you are at crisis point.

Please take care of yourself
Thank you for your kind message. No, I don't understand the mental health system either. It's a complete mystery x
Hi Cherish,
sorry to hear that the MH system is letting you down, it is a mystery to me too. Have you had any counselling? Could you go back to MH team and ask for some? They shouldn't just give you meds and nothing else.
If you don't get anywhere with NHS perhaps it would be worth making contact yourself with other organisations. As Booksey suggests, the Samaritans could be a starting point. Have you tried contacting MIND? I'm not saying these organisations can 'solve' things but they've years of experience advising people and may be able to suggest things we don't know about. I know it's easy to say these things and so hard to act on, but it could lead to the support you need.
I can only say that to get through I try to stop myself looking at 'the big picture', scary words like 'future' etc. and keep to the small scale, just taking on what's manageable at that moment. I've known several people with severe depression and in terrible situations who have come through and eventually found life good again. It's impossible to see from where you are now, but can happen step by step.
take care xx
Thank you.

I find the Samaritans difficult because you get a different person each time and don't have the chance to build up trust with anyone. Also they ask you what brought you to this point and you keep having to explain the trauma again to each different person. Repeating the trauma is not good. For people who have experienced trauma, the Sams can be difficult .

I phoned MIND and they put me in contact with ASSIST Trauma but they said I was outside their area.

The Mental Health team said they don't do counselling but that I should ask at my GP surgery. At my GP surgery they told me I would have to pay for counselling. There is no free counsellng at my GP surgery.

That's what is frustrating - I have tried to seek help but it seems so hard to find.

Today I had an outpatient appointment at the hospital for some physical after-effects of overdose, and the consultant asked what support I was getting from MH services. She said that if I reached the point of suicide again I should walk back through the hospital doors because MH services would have a duty to help me. "You pay your taxes and you have a right to be helped" She was so kind she made me cry. Health services are not generally kind to people who have self-inflicted physical damage, and it was such a surprise that it totally disarmed me and made me cry x
If you have been at breaking point and come back from the edge, surely there should be some support service for you? You shouldn`t have to reach crisis again to access help. There are millions out there with mental health professionals fighting over them and the clients just want to be left alone to get on with whatever is going on in their heads. The help should be prioritised for folks who want it. Rant over.xx
79 posts