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Daphne's story

75 | GLOUCESTERSHIRE
Read Daphne’s story about caring for her husband for almost 40 years. She eventually had a carer’s assessment to see what help was available.
3 min read
In this article
Difficult to cope with being a carer Managing working while caring Asking for support
Carer’s assessment helped Get help early on

In Daphne’s words…

On my wedding day in 1973, my mother-in-law said, ‘When you marry Michael, you marry his moods.’ And two years on I knew what she meant. Gradually his mood swings got worse and I found it very difficult to know how to handle them. I was really worried about him. Eventually he tried to kill himself and got a brain injury caused by the carbon monoxide poisoning.

Difficult to cope with being a carer

I grieve for the person I had before – the man I married. We had planned to have a family, but I couldn’t cope with having children as well as a child for a husband. 

 

I found the situation very difficult and I felt very angry. Michael has slowly got better, though, so I have spent 38 years in an improving situation. Today, however, that is reversing somewhat as he now has Alzheimer’s.

The sooner you get the carer’s assessment done, the sooner you know what is out there to help you.

Managing working while caring

I was an inspector of teaching art and design in colleges in London. I came back every Friday night to Cheltenham to support my elderly parents as well as Mike, doing a week’s worth of things over a weekend and then going back to my job. 

 

I was the key wage earner, but I also planned a full schedule of all sorts of stimulating things for Mike – making furniture, being read and talked to, and that really got him going again. When I had a holiday, I was so exhausted that I was always ill.

Asking for support

I struggled like that for 22 years with little help or support. But, one morning, I could not get up. I was a complete wreck mentally and I just stared at the walls. I was almost suicidal. My whole body and mind stopped. 

 

I contacted social services and within 24 hours there was someone helping me put my life back together.

Carer’s assessment helped

We did a carer’s assessment and there, written down, were all the aspects of my life that were affected by being a carer: money, time, health, emotions – everything. I realised that my health problems were all stress related, because that’s what happens to carers.

 

It had a massive impact. I suddenly saw how much caring for Mike had taken away from my life. When I reflected, I realised I’d lost all my creativity, and I wasn’t going away, giving myself space. Ever since, I go up to London about four times a year for a few days. I see friends, go to exhibitions, and have some time for me.

 

I rebuilt my confidence, and one day I was sitting in a meeting where people were speaking up for carers, and I thought ‘I could do this!’. And that began a 20-year career fighting for carers in Gloucestershire.

Get help early on

I would say to any carer: never give up your job, you need it to keep your sanity and you need the money. But never feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness. 

 

The sooner you get the carer’s assessment done, the sooner you know what is out there to help you. Don’t wait until you’re at the point of crisis, like I did. Find out what support is available for the day you might need it."

Similar real-life stories
John's story
Read John’s story about how he manages caring full time for his wife, Dorothy, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.
Jennifer's story
Read Jennifer’s story about caring for her mother, father and aunt, all who had various forms of dementia.

Further reading

Carer's assessment

If you care for someone it may be helpful to arrange a carer’s assessment to see if you’re eligible for support – ...

Carer's Allowance

Find out if you could apply for Carer’s Allowance, a benefit to help you if you care for someone for more than 35 ...

Flexible working

If you work and also care for someone, flexible working can help balance your responsibilities. We explain your ...

Last updated: 10 Oct 2018