Tuesday, 14 October 2014

UBC - Day 13 and 14 - Time to Talk - Tips for Carers

Welcome to the Ultimate Blog Challenge for today, hope your day is a blessed one!

In Sundays post I mentioned joining your local Carers group and the support and friendship that you will find if you get to know other carers.  The Carers groups have so much information, training and resources available that you will find something that will assist you in your role.

Compartments - example of how the different areas of life are managed in their neat little boxes

The thing that I wanted to focus on today was to look at resources available to allow you to talk about your role.  This is different from sitting in a group and sharing your experience, which is very helpful, but this is a one to one.

You would be surprised the amount of emotions that you go through that very often you don't have time to think about, but they are there in the background and come out in the way that you treat yourself, ie 'lack of self care' or how you respond to your caring role and what it involves.

Compartments holding hidden compartments beneath, as a way of managing the situation

As carers we can give ourselves a hard time because we feel that we should be able to cope, we don't want to ask for advice or help and we shoulder it all, locking our feelings away inside. There was nothing that prepared me for the role of caring for my mother.  One minute she was fine and I would visit on a Sunday, have dinner, chat for a while then go home and then the next I was having to leave my son at home while I stayed at my mums overnight, looking after her sometimes 3-4 nights a week.  I got stressed out, resentful, but locked my feelings inside.  I love my mum to bits but I wasn't coping and missing out on my son growing up.

Hidden faces of a carer - you see the face that is coping when beneath tells a different story

Accessing the Carers group put me in touch with a service called 'Time to Talk', which was 6 sessions with a therapist/counselor.  Whilst I was the sort of person that loved to talk the idea of sharing how I felt about my role as a carer was out of the question.  As the sessions went on I realised that talking about the situation and what I was finding difficult would actually help me get the necessary support to care for mum, which meant that I could spend the time with her, but also spend time with my son.
Hidden Faces - revealing a range of faces that are going through

I was able to articulate what I needed to help us as a family, address the guilt I felt, which was about things that I had no control over - it's not my fault that mum has dementia.  I could stop taking on the burdens of this world and spend quality time with those I cared for.  

We know that those who care take a large portion of the burden from the communities that they live and not every borough provides the same amount of support and assistance to help those who need care to stay in their own homes, and the communities that they live are fragmented, so that an elderly person can go for weeks at a time without speaking to another person.  

Selection of art produced in Art Therapy class

The other thing that might help you address some of your feelings is getting involved in Art Therapy groups and a number of them are running specifically for those who are carers. I was again able to take part in a series of 12 sessions that allowed me play with the art materials, spend time for myself, but also produced work that without having to articulate expressed how I felt, the work that you can see in this post enabled me to express visually how I felt, and how I wanted to feel.

Encouraging post cards to post to myself over a period of time as a reminder to make time for myself

For now recognise the importance of communication, talking about what the role that your talking on has impacted on your life.  Talk about the guilt, the fear, accept that you may not want to do the role that your doing, talking about those tough things will make how you relate to your role and help you move forward.  Also try and incorporate some creativity in your day to day, I will be creating a series of short tutorial videos to show you how you can get your creative juices flowing in coming weeks.   Also ask at your Carers Group if they run any Art Therapy sessions that you can join.


You can also click on the 'Celebrating life' image to be taken to the rest of the posts from the Journey of a Carer.
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