Not enough attention caters to the carer in any of these situations. 'How's the patient?' Is asked. Rarely: 'How's the carer?
I'm aware of how extraordinarily lucky I am in Husband. Quite apart from being my lover/best mate/soul-mate/rock, he's also a brilliant carer. He's looked after me - in cliched terms - through thick and thin, for thirty years. He's fun (we both have a silly schoolboy sense of humour), he's funny, he has a brain the size of a small planet, he's practical, he's scientifically minded and logical. In short, he's the best possible person I could have had throughout these years. He's had it tough. When I was at my worst, he was told by the medics to keep up the positives with me, which meant telling me everything would be okay. Even if he felt shit. Which he did, often. He wasn't allowed, in his own mind, to tell me that he felt shit, that he was peed off with the whole thing. Had to keep all that to himself. Awful.
When it came to cognitive behavioral therapy, he was/is a natural. After my first session with the psychologist, I came home with a handful of bedtime reading matter. He read through it and pronounced: 'This makes absolute sense. Just got to try it out.' And we did. Every time I had a depressive wobbly - which was frequently at the start of treatment - I had To STOP. Change my environment. Talk to Husband about what I'd been thinking about. Difficult, that part. But he was brilliant. I could never do it. He's struggling a bit himself now, and we're applying CBT to his experience and things are improving. I'm a more pracical soul. 'Cuppa tea?' 'Go for a walk?' I've told him he has to tell me what's on his mind, not keep it to himself.
A great thing about the mental health team is that they also take care of carers. They hold coffee mornings for them, and iTalk is available to them. Husband is with iTalk as we speak. Very good.
We can't all be like Husband. I'm just so lucky, and grateful.