Our Involvement Officer, Bev Woolmer, writes about being a carer for her son to mark this year’s Carers’ Week.
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. Here at Second Step we will have around 35 carers, I’m 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.
Carers’ Week runs from 10 -16 June.