Being a working carer
Recently I wrote a blog for Mental Health Conference This Can Happen about being a working carer and how employers can help so I've shared it below:
I was about 20 when I felt the full-force of caring for my mum. She had lived with ill-mental health throughout my life; however, it was at this point that she had a traumatic emotional breakdown and I took on the role of being mum to my mum.
Caring for her consists of trying to fulfil a continuous need. She needs to hear my voice, gain my reassurance, my support and for me to listen to her hourly struggles in order to decipher a world she has never truly understood or felt part of. Everyone wants to feel needed. But this is a different need, an endless one with little reward.
Some days I feel desperately sad that I cannot not help her, some days I feel overwhelmed with frustration at the anger and destructive behaviour that is thrown my way and then other times I feel so much guilt at the thought of not giving up work and my career in order to care for her every need.
Working life has been great for its structure and for enabling me to detach myself from the painful challenges of caring.
I have always been highly protective of my mum and found the relationship and behaviour she exhibits very difficult to explain, so I started writing blogs about my experience which then led to conversations with workplace colleagues who asked me about it, which gave me such huge comfort and increased my confidence to talk about the challenges I face.
What employers can do
It is so important to have an empathetic leadership team who champion flexible working for employees. The ability to take time off at short-notice is a valuable necessity when you are a working carer. Especially as caring for a parent with ill-mental health is highly unpredictable so having the ability to be available to help can reduce a significant level of stress that you may already be experiencing.
x Rebecca x