Why carers need support too
At age 24, Nadya found herself being a carer for her partner who had mental health issues. She eventually realised that she also needed help and turned to Lamp’s Carer Group for support. Here, she tells us why…
Becoming a carer
For me it was a very sudden situation where I was dating someone for around eight to nine months without knowing that this person had any mental health issues. He decided to stop taking his medication one day and without me seeing it or knowing he became progressively paranoid. At the time I didn’t think anything of it, but one day he sat me down and explained his side of the story. The reason why I say his side of the story is because he did not want to face the fact he had been diagnosed with psychosis and he had to take his medication on a daily basis.
I continued to date this person for another year and almost instantly without again realising, I became his carer. I had to always make sure I listened to his conspiracy theories and support him through his episodes. If not me at that time, who else would listen. I quickly learned that to help in this situation, you have to be very sensitive to their thoughts, however irrational they may have seemed to me at the time.
Because he kept refusing to take his medication he became progressively worse and his theories turned to me as the main issue. I always updated his mum on his wellbeing everyday and we both let each other know if we had any luck with encouraging him to take his medication. We both kept thinking of ways we could do this and what help we needed to seek for him, as he had a PA that would come in and check on him once a month.
Challenges and lack of support
I feel like one of the main challenges I faced is having to listen to the same stories of why he was hearing the voices he does everyday and even whilst I would be at work he would message me non-stop and I had to respond for my own sake too. With his paranoia came distrust towards me. He was convinced that we all can hear the same voices he can and I had to stay calm, which is very difficult when you’re being accused of lying about something. I found myself going around in circles almost every day just to help to get through to him. It was exhausting.
Another challenge I faced was the lack of support I had around me at the time to deal with a relationship like this one. I was not aware of severity of his condition and straight away started to learn online about psychosis and how to help someone control it. This where I came across LAMP.
Lack of education and understanding was a huge challenge here.
Asking for help
I was at a very low point where I knew that I needed help now. To leave this person wasn’t an option for me at the time and this is why I started doing my research. Somehow through this research and in seeking help, I was directed to Lamp.
It was a bit of a shock to then face the fact I am classed as a carer for my partner because of how much involvement I had to have to support him on a daily basis. I was his main go-to, and eventually when he lost his job I was trying to support him as much as I could.
Finding Lamp gave me a huge sense of relief as I could now connect with people who are going through similar and even worse situations than me.
Lamp’s Carer Group
The group was attended by others who all had either partners or children with the same or similar conditions. I didn’t know what to expect, but I had a lovely welcome with tea and biscuits. We all sat at a table together and as I was a newbie I introduced myself and shared my situation with them. I then learned about others and how they’re coping with their spouse or a child who has severe mental health issues.
It opened my eyes to my partner’s condition and this is when I started to really understand the severity of it and what can happen if he continues to not take the medication.
By attending the group I learnt more about this type of condition, because you don’t realise that psychosis can also be alongside bipolar disorder for example. I didn’t even think about how his condition can progress if it’s untreated.
I now understand more about how I should be communicating with him when he is having his episodes. I’m a very tough person so sometimes empathy for the situations of others can feel unnatural to me, but he needed me to be more pragmatic in his situation. I had to learn to adapt and make sure that he knew he was being listened to.
I would absolutely recommend that other carers try Lamp’s carers’ group. I think we cannot do this by ourselves. It’s a very exhausting and stressful environment to be in. I became extremely depressed and it took me a very long time to come out of it. But without this group I wouldn’t know where to start, as you really do feel very alone in a situation like this.
I’m 26 years old now, but I was 23/24 when this was happening. This was actually a huge factor for my friends and family as they all said to me ‘You’re only 24 and you have a whole life ahead of you, why do you want to be with someone like this?’. Like I said, leaving this person wasn’t an option for me at the time.
Eventually it became very bad and he ended up hating me as he believed I was the reason for his condition and so I was forced to leave. I had an escape option, but many others don’t, so that’s why I am such a great supporter of Lamp, as it helps people who just don’t have an option like me to leave.