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Are you one of the estimated 8.8 million unpaid carers in the UK, looking after a loved one, family member or friend and perhaps more than one generation?
Then it is likely that you are not only struggling with navigating the soul-destroying, pathway to obtaining the medical, social care and financial support you and your loved one needs. You are also probably struggling with the, sometimes overwhelming, thoughts, feelings and emotions of carrying out that role alone.
The book was a recommendation and I thought it seemed intriguing and lighthearted and it would be a good distraction from my day to day life as a full-time carer, so I bought the paperback version.
Marriott makes it clear from the beginning, that his book is not for everyone and that he will be covering some tough topics that most people, let alone carers, find it hard to talk to others about. In Chapter 1 ‘Warning’ heoutlines what it is about and, as importantly what it is not about. Throughout the book, he refers to his wife, Cathie, who he carers for and ‘cared-for’ individuals in general, as ‘piglets’, which some may feel is a tad disrespectful (although that is not the intention), and some of the chapters are an uncomfortable read, but that is one of the reasons this book works so well.
Marriott suggests keeping the book in the downstairs loo (toilet for non-UK listeners!), or by the bed, and either reading it ‘like a novel’ from front to back or dipping into specific chapters as you need them. So, after reading the first chapter, I decided to do the latter. This is a brief overview of one of those chapters, which will help to illustrate why this is a key book to read as a carer, particularly if you are or have recently taken on the role.
Scanning through the other chapter titles, I nearly choked on my tea, (actually it could have been wine, but we will stick with tea!) when I read the title of Chapter 12 ‘Pushing them down the stairs’!
As soon as I read the title I had quite a strong response. Initially, disbelief, that a carer would think that, let alone write about those thoughts and publish them. However, then I had an overwhelming sense of guilt, as I realised that I had immediately judged him just on the title, but I didn’t have any context around it and then had a nasty suspicion that when I did read it (of course, I was going to read it!), that it would probably relate to me far more than I would have liked it too and it did!
However, that’s the point of this empathically and cleverly written book; to break the ice on topics that are extremely difficult to talk about in society, at any time, but particularly challenging when you are responsible for the welfare and often, life, of another human being in your care. Obviously, it is not a guide to ‘pushing your loved one down the stairs’ but it allows you to acknowledge that you have had or might have, ‘dark thoughts’ and that it is OK, regardless of how much you love your ‘piglet’.
This is really important for the emotional and psychological wellbeing of carers. We often care in isolation, particularly if not working, fearing that if we share thoughts like this with others, not only will they think badly of us, but they might tell someone else, like the police! So, we stay silent and suffer alone.
A Carer’s Heart was founded to support all carers navigate and manage difficult thoughts, feelings and emotions such as described in Chapter 12, so for that reason alone, I would highly recommend Marriott book. However, there is so much more to it than just that chapter, and there are many reasons why I would say, if you can, take the opportunity to read it.
Because it allows us as,’ The Carers’, to put ourselves first, without shame or guilt; because by reading those funny, but difficult pages, we know that we are not alone and when we do have ‘those’ thoughts, it doesn’t define us, they are just… well…a Selfish Pig having thoughts about their piglet!
The next post, and second in the four-part series on emotions, resentment, will be published on the 7th October and will be followed by grief on the 21st October.
Thank you so much for reading this post, I hope you found it useful and that you can join me next time and remember, what a special thing it is that you do
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