We spoke to Zadie about her caring role, and how it impacts her life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 29 years old, married, and am a mum to an 18-month-old / step-mum to an 11-year-old. I work full time in a professional management role but I am looking to change career and I’m in the process of applying for the military. Most of my time is taken up with the above but I enjoy cooking, keeping fit, reading and listening to music/podcasts.
Who do you care for and how long have you been caring for them?
I care for my husband and support him in many ways when his mental health proves to be more obstructive than it is on a normal day. I suppose I’ve been caring for him in some way since we met four years ago, but we only really labelled it about two and a half years ago. It was my husband’s idea when he was really struggling at the time so that I could access support if I needed it. Until that point, I’d never really considered that what I was doing was caring in its official capacity.
How does being a carer affect you or how has it affected you in the past?
I would say that I am a different person now compared to who I was before I was a carer. Having to be that rock for someone else has forced me to look inwardly and grow emotionally in order to support my husband when he needs it. I’ve also had to find ways of coping that work for me, to help keep me grounded when things get tough. It can be an emotional rollercoaster so making sure I am strong and resilient emotionally is the most important thing for me.
Do you get any support as a carer?
I did have a carer assessment with my local authority when I first realised I was a carer, but they have not been in contact since. I have reached out to other organisations and charities in the past when I have needed help but I don’t receive regular support.
Why is it important that carers get support?
It can quite literally be a life line for carers when they are struggling to cope or need help. It is tough being a carer, and to know that there are organisations out there that can help when I need them is a huge relief.
Does being a carer have an impact on your metal health?
Absolutely. There are some days when I feel so flat and drained that I don’t have the energy to maintain a conversation. But on the flip side there are days where my husband and I have worked so well as a team to tackle whatever he is going through at the time that I feel energised. It is definitely a journey that we travel together.
Do you have any advice for other carers?
It is tough to say as every carer experience is so different, but I think the thing that has helped me the most is to know my own capabilities and limits. It is a strange concept that in order to provide for someone else, you need to provide for yourself first, as it feels wrong or backwards somehow. But I know first hand that you need to know yourself very well to be so unconditionally present for someone else. For example, when I’m struggling, I start to get messy and things start to build up around me. So, when I see this start to happen, I know I need to take a little time to clear things up, emotionally and physically. A cup of tea, a hot shower or a run are normally my go to ‘me time’ things to hit the reset button and pick things up again.
*name changed to protect identity