“1 in 8 adults (around 6.5 million people) are carers” (1)
Digging for statistics about carers in the UK is pretty depressing.
“Following a survey in 2010, the BBC estimated that there are 700,000 young carers in the UK” (2)
Lots of vulnerable people end up caring for other vulnerable people, often in secret and behind closed doors.
As a vulnerable person currently caring for a partner who’s also vulnerable (and vice versa) I can testify to some of the difficulties of caring. Caring and coping seem to go hand in hand. And if you’re caring for someone in isolation or in secret, both of these things just got way harder.
How can a carer continue to actually care about the person they’re supporting?
Coping with the every day issues plus supporting another vulnerable person and their baggage can lead to not coping and to some extent, not caring.
Guilt seems to be a massive emotion that hangs around in this particular mixture, guilt and bags of isolation… What a heady brew!
No wonder – “People providing high levels of care are twice as likely to be permanently sick or disabled” (1)
I care deeply for my partner, but over the past few months I’ve come as close to harming them or my self as their breakdown has continued, and the isolation got more extreme as friends have receded.
For some time it never even occurred to me that I was my partners carer, I just felt like I was a crazy person who hated their partner. Suddenly seeing my self in a carer role, giving what I was doing that context actually gave me some relief and naming it then turned it into something I could ask for help with.
And actually, my breaking point, when I felt no longer about to cope or care, seems to have had in some ways, a bigger positive impact on my partner’s recovery than all my attempts at supporting and caring.
I reached a point where my respecting my partners autonomy and independence was no longer to my benefit or theirs and had to put my self first. I went behind their backs and called in their parents (a back up that not every person has). Calling in someones folks was a very difficult decision for me to make and I was pretty pissed off that I’d been put in the position where I had to make that call.
Although afterwards my partner was glad I had done it, I was still seething about the pressure I’d felt under and the lack of face to face support.
There’s a fuck tonne of online resources that are vitally important now, but there are gaping social holes in the physical spaces around vulnerable people and their carers.
Its a sad world when it’s easier to score illegal drugs or order something online with next day delivery than it is to get help from your friends.