David and Mel’s stories
Both David and Mel look after members of their family. They have found that talking to other carers and counsellors makes a real difference to their lives.
David: Hey, Mel! How are you?
Mel: Hi, David!
David: That's the way!
Mel: Lovely to see you!
David: My name's David and I'm caring for three people, which I can describe as being one, my daughter, my lovely wife and my lovely mum.
Seeking support for myself was something that, in hindsight, I probably should have sought a lot earlier in the process of being a carer.
If I had've actually taken a bit of time out and taken on board accessing services, accessing support services and even listening to those that are close to me, I would have probably realised early in the piece that, yep, it's vitally important that you get a lot of information.
Mel: I'm Mel, and I care for three children who have autism and mental health issues.
Once I found and joined some support areas, the difference was amazing. I suddenly found that I was no longer alone, that what I thought was abnormal was actually quite normal. So suddenly I was validated. That I was actually able to get advice and support that I actually hadn't considered before and I was more open to.
David: Meeting carers just like myself is extremely important, because at the end of the day, it's a good way to share how you feel. Because it's only carers that are going to actually understand how you feel. You're going to have very similar issues, you're going to have very similar joyous moments as well. So you've really got to, you know, talk to others that are sharing the same sort of scenario with you.
Mel: Establishing you need counselling is a really hard thing to come to terms with and when you make that decision to need help, you actually need it then and there. And the challenge has been to find that support that's available.
David: Initially, to me, it was something that I found difficult to do. But I found someone that I could really connect with. And it was just like having a real chat. So together with talking to a counsellor and also other carers with that shared lived experience, made life a lot easier.
Mel: Advice for other carers... One is that you're not alone. And I think that's really important. That there's other people out there just like you going through the exact same things as you, but unless you get yourself out there and start talking to others - whether that's virtually, you know, face to face, telephone - then nothing will change in your life.
David: Look after yourself, because if you don't look after yourself, you can't be a carer.
‘Look after yourself, because if you don’t look after yourself, you can’t be a carer.’