I will always be loved but I will not always be liked
Invisible Army - Voices of unpaid carers - Carina's story
Photography by Tina Gue - Story by Carina Andrews
I have been a carer for my mother since I was 5 because she has complex mental health needs. For the last 9 years I now also care for my dad because he has Parkinson’s Disease. As well as supporting my younger sister. This is us on a ‘good’ day, well a day where on the outside we are all fine, as we are having a visitor over. My main role in the family is ‘bad cop.’ I am bossy and fussy; the co-ordinator, but it’s a skill I learnt at a young age to ensure that everyone, including me, get their needs met. I have learnt to run my family: I will always be loved but I will not always be liked.
It is important as a carer to find joy in every moment I can. Because of the overwhelming stress we are under I try to bring joy to the ones I care for. I try very hard to make my family smile each day; this can be difficult when I myself don’t feel like smiling but must be done. Here we are all shopping, a job that is very tiresome so I seize the opportunity to cuddle a giant unicorn, which I know my mum would love to do too. We then try to convince my dad that we need them. You can guess his answer…
We are on a mission to complete the weekly food shop together. Before this moment there was a lot of preparation work: write a list, encourage dad to join us, find shopping bags, reassure dad he will be fine if he comes, wake mum up, find and put on dads shoes, encourage mum to come with us, work out the budget and the week’s meal plan, be moaned at for not being ready, put my own shoes on while walking out the door. I hate food shopping; everyone wishes for something different, everyone seems to wonder off and supermarkets seem to swallow so much time, but this is the first time dad has gone out and the only time we have been out together all week.
Family dilemma. I did not attend an appointment with my parents and the Occupational Therapist (OT) who was looking at my dad’s needs. My mum is so kind natured that she takes what professionals say as facts, but often not pre-given the full story or not fully understanding what has been explained. My role here is to stay calm enough to explain the same thing I have done three times already, but has previously been taken as an insult, although not meant that way. My dad is slanting on the sofa, which if he continues, he will slowly crush his internal organs. I believe the OT explained that dad must try to sit up straight to build the muscles we use to sit straight, however what has not been explained is that the energy needed to sit straight for my dad is a lot, and for someone who sits on the sofa 10 hours a day, it is impossible for him to have the energy to hold himself up for that long. What is needed is a solution, but as a result of the Depression in my family
they are often stuck on the problem. Next day I carry an armchair in, plan A; fingers crossed.
I HATE this photo! I am exhausted beyond imaginable. In this moment, my mind is racing, I am hoping my parents will be able to work together to achieve a workable outcome. When do I step in?
I am also consumed with fighting the health sector and the social sector to gain support for my exhausted mother and broken father as both sectors say it’s the other’s responsibility as my father’s
main struggle with his Parkinson’s is sever Anxiety. Minutes after this photo was taken the hospital staff came into the room and began to tell me and my mother how we should support my father. 9 years we have been caring for him. 20 years I have been an unpaid 24 hour/7 days a week carer. I think I know how to provide care to my parents. What I am asking is for some bloody HELP!!!!