A BALANCED LIFE FOR CARERS OF THE MENTALLY ILL
This ‘Balanced Life’, is not easy to achieve – you really have to work at it, but I often try to remember the words of a prominent carer, Ken Alexander who said: “Never think that spending massive amounts of time with your loved one will help”. Unfortunately it is not that simple!
Frank and I have six children between us – five boys and one girl. Three of the boys are on the Disability Support Pension. One of my boys suffers from schizophrenia and is in a wheelchair, another suffers from bipolar 2 disorder and one of Frank’s two sons has schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder.
These mental health problems present ongoing concerns for both of us and some people ask us ‘how do you cope?’ and the answer is by having frequent holidays. We have had many wonderful holidays over the ten years we have been together. They include numerous cruises; Alaska, Mediterranean, Caribbean and we are going on a cruise to South America in April this year.
We also belong to a time-share holiday scheme and have stayed in some great places in many parts of the world for a reasonable rate; eg Malta, England, Spain, France and our ever-popular destination, Bali. Well you might say, it’s okay if you are wealthy! Obviously we are not poor but we are on a part pension. But if you cannot afford overseas holidays, please try to get away a few times a year to recharge your batteries. Go to another state or have a seaside holiday in your own state. Sometimes you may be entitled to a few days away – MIND has 4-day respite and recreation events early in May and late May/June2016. Contact MIND, Mark Buljat on 9674 6700, mobile 0405384221 and speak to them about what they can offer you. Mental Illness Fellowship also offer breaks – call Jacinta Pope or Fiorella Mendoza on 9784 6800 for specifics. It need not be an expensive affair. If we did not have these great holidays to look forward to Frank and I may not be able to cope with the every day problems that occur. It’s the constant demands on your mental energy that can really wear you down! If this starts to affect your health, in the long run you will not be any use to anybody, so it is most important to look after yourself. Some carers are so caught up in the problems of their mentally ill loved ones they forget about their own needs; also the needs of the rest of their family. Frank and I work towards the day when we won’t be here and know that whilst our loved ones will miss us, we have tried to make them as independent as possible
I also believe that belonging to a group of people who have like-minded problems, talking with them in a safe environment and listening to interesting speakers on this topic can be very beneficial over time. I am proud of the group I belong to – ‘Inner South Family and Friends Support Group’. We have been going for 25 years and have over 200 members. In that time we have been very active and have been on many government committees concerning mental health and had input from a carer’s perspective; something that is often overlooked!
Frank and Judy Carroll
16 February 2016