James is a carer
I have been a carer since my youngest son Aiden was born with cerebral palsy following complications during the birth. He’s five now and a wonderful little boy. Caring for him has certainly thrown up it’s fair share of challenges but we are a close family and we do okay, given the circumstances. I registered with Richmond Carers Centre following an appointment with my GP but I didn’t really make use of the service until my dad had a stroke when Aiden was three. My parents are elderly and live in another part of the country, which makes it very difficult for me to be of any use to them. I speak to mum on the phone a lot and support her with whatever I can but the constant anxiety I feel over whether or not she is coping really started to get to me after the first year. I work so I’m not able to get to see them very often, though we do try. The problem is that my wife, Helen looks after our three children and the house all week so I try to give her some time to herself at the weekend, which obviously isn’t possible if I or we are travelling 4 hours each way in the car to visit mum and dad. It got to the point where I was so overwhelmed that my health was starting to suffer and my relationship with Helen was becoming fractious. Richmond Carers Centre sends a quarterly newsletter and it was opening this one morning that prompted me to give them a call. The Carers Support Worker who answered the phone was absolutely wonderful and I ended up speaking to her for over half an hour. The relief was immense. I couldn’t believe how much emotion and anxiety I had been keeping inside myself. We arranged to meet for a one-to-one session the following week at the centre. Just to be listened to and to have someone understand my situation was enough initially to give me some strength to approach the future. The support worker helped me to find and link in with carers support services local to my mum and some systems were put in place to help her cope with dad’s health. This has given me enough peace of mind and breathing space to take stock of the situation and work on my relationship with Helen. I am astonished at the destructive power of stress but we are a much happier family again. Knowing that Richmond Carers Centre is there to support us when we need it is a great comfort.