I had a dual caring role looking after my Mum who had dementia and my son who has muscular dystrophy, as well as being Mum to my other son. We lived all together.
Once I accepted and saw myself as a Carer, I made contact with a Carer support service. They talked to me about the importance of looking after myself and got me to start thinking about what would help me? I went along to some Carer’s days, these gave me the opportunity to make myself have a break; the Carer support service made it possible by arranging respite for these days. During this time I came to understand that, in caring for Mum and my son’s, one who had a severe disability, I was losing myself without realising it.
I was encouraged to go on a retreat, through the Carer support service. Going on a retreat the first time was difficult but I realised I needed it and needed regular breaks. I learnt that I can have time for myself and that I must if I am to keep going as a Carer and that’s important to everyone.
After the retreat, I did find that one thing for me, which gave me time out each week. I started going to the Tea Tree Gully Library for 1-2 hours once a week, which became even better when they opened a cafe!
Making the decision to go on retreat was hard. I had to work through my own guilt about doing this, as well as the unhelpful opinions of others. The ongoing encouragement from the Carer’s support service helped me to take the step and book in.
On retreat, I was thinking “How can I do that to my son, he’s never been away from me, would his care needs be taken care of? Would he be happy?”
I was helped to work through these thoughts and feelings of guilt by other Carers who were also having the same thoughts and by the retreat facilitators.
One moment that has stayed with me all these years was a visualisation exercise to help us let go of feelings of stress. One of my peers described herself as ‘an eagle flying free in the sky’; I like the feeling of freedom that creates for me.
On the 2nd night of the retreat I felt quite well, I thought “Wow this has really done something for me”. I felt like a weight had been lifted. I had been in touch with my family and knew they were OK without me. This was a huge awakening.
I started saying to myself I need to do this for me.
I am now using my experience of caring to help others by being a Weaver.