Caring during Covid
To mark this year’s Carers Week, our former Involvement Officer, Bev Woolmer, shares her thoughts about being a carer for her son.
This time last year Bev wrote a moving blog about being a carer for her son. Bev has since moved on from Second Step to pastures new, but we’ve been in touch and she’s happy for us to publish it again, this time with a note from her about how things have been for her son during the current coronavirus crisis. Thank you, Bev!
There are seven million carers in the UK, 4.27 million are of working age, which equates to 1 in 8 workers also being a carer. Second Step we will have around 35 carers, I was one of them.
The label ‘carer’ wasn’t one I really identified with, I just considered myself a mum of a neuro-typical son and neuro-diverse son.
When my youngest son began to experience extreme anxiety in year 10 and started self-harming, I became his carer. A tornado engulfed us; we were swept up in its path, unsure if we’d ever land again.
My son became suicidal; I watched as he fell apart and disappeared into a dark place. He was hospitalised, the trauma of being an inpatient resulted in PTSD. He became a collection of labels and diagnosis, at times it felt like I was the only person who could see him.
We experienced the best and worst of services, I’m his advocate, his appointee, I manage his personal budget, I’ve secured his EHCP (Education Health and Care Plan) and health budget, I attend his reviews, I liaise with a myriad of professionals, I ensure he takes his meds and his risks are managed as his plan states.
I’m also the person who:
- Watches anime with him
- Tries to make sushi with him (with varying degrees of success)
- Listens when he tells me about his latest story or character (he is skilled in creative writing)
- Laughs and shares a joke with him, he has a great sense of humour and is quick witted
- Loves him unconditionally
- Has his back for as long as he needs
- Wouldn’t wish what we’ve been through on anyone, and in a heartbeat I’d have jumped in his shoes if it would have spared him the turmoil
- But I couldn’t & it doesn’t work like that so I hold the space around him with hope, light and love
- Watches as little by little he emerges from the shadows as he slowly finds his way in the world
- Sees him smile again and when his eyes light up it is pure heart melting joy.
Covid brings new challenges, initially there was fear and rising levels of anxiety. Rolling news became a spotlight interest and took some time to undo.
Predicted grades will be the norm this year and knowing it’s based on the year’s work has helped, he will do well.
There has been no college, no routine, no community support, the days roll into weeks and months. The further on it goes, the more he claims this time as his own, researching and writing, doing what he likes best. Home has become his safety net, free from people, not having to engage or become overloaded by the outside world, in lots of ways life is easier for him.
As long as we bend to accommodate, life has a peaceful rhythm. Our challenge is yet to come, as life slowly lifts out of lockdown, re-engaging will be the hard part.
Carers Week 2020 runs from 8-14 June.