When you look after a loved one, it can have a negative effect on your emotions.
You may feel stressed, over-whelmed, drained. Sometimes you may feel angry or guilty because of the changes to your life as a result of caring. Or upset, because of the changes to your relationship with the person you care for. Often you can feel very alone.
These feelings can be worsened when combined with other effects of caring, like being tired, under financial pressure, or fighting for support for the person you care for.
In Carers UK’s ‘State of Caring 2019′ report 27% of carers rated their mental health as ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’. In the same report carers reported their ‘happiness’ level at 4.7 out of 10, compared to a population average of 7.5 out of 10.
All these emotions are understandable. But it’s important that you acknowledge these feelings, and look for ways to both to help yourself and find support from outside – there is help available.
Looking after yourself
A big part of keeping yourself mentally well, is keeping yourself physically well. So as much as you can, try to eat well, sleep well, and get a little exercise if possible. Try to find time, however small, to do something just for you – even if it’s a quick 5 minutes looking at the crossword. You need time to yourself to re-charge.
The most important thing though, is talking about your feelings.
Talking to others
Talking about your feelings can really help. It’s important not to bottle things up inside.
Talking can be as simple as a chat with an understanding friend or relative.
Or you can chat to one of the Advisors on our Helpline. They can lend a ‘listening ear’ but also suggest practical steps you might take that would hopefully make your situation better. Just give us a call on 0303 040 1234.
A great place to talk about your emotions, and share your feelings, is with other Surrey carers at one of our support groups. We have 40+ of these meeting every month, for carers to get together and support each other. Find out more about our support groups here.
Many carers can’t get out to support groups. Or you may not want to. Instead, you might like to try chatting to someone online, in a carers’ forum. Chances are, there’s other carers out there feeling the same way you are. You can let off steam, and perhaps get some tips on coping. Read more about on-line forums here.
If you feel very bad, it’s important that you seek help, quickly, from your GP. They can advise on the steps to take and potential treatments. They won’t judge you.
Talking to professionals
Your GP might refer you for some kind of ‘talking therapy’ or counselling. This means talking to someone who is trained to help you deal with your feelings. Talking therapies give people the chance to explore their thoughts and feelings and the effect they can have on their behavior and mood.
Mind Matters Surrey IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) is a talking therapy service for adults registered with a GP in Surrey, who are experiencing common mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.
They look to provide quick and easy access to talking therapies, according to your individual needs. Experienced staff will listen, allowing you to talk about your difficulties in a non-judgmental and supportive environment. They aim to help you understand your issues, and will work with you to develop new ways of coping. Visit their website or call them on 0300 330 5450.
Healios provide digital/video mental health support to individuals and families in Surrey. Their aim is to help you develop new, healthier behaviours, working with their clincians, helping you to achieve your goals and feel well. . The service is flexible, designed around people’s busy lives.
Please note, Healios is a commissioned service, available through selected NHS Trusts. When you first get in touch, they will give you a call to better understand your situation and check our availability. Read about the three steps of their service here.
Your Mind Plan
Public Health England have a simple and quick quiz. It asks questions about how you are feeling, then gives you a short list of potential actions to take. Try it here.
Charity MIND has lots of support on mental health on its website, and also a helpline 0300 123 3393.
In times of crisis
If you are in crisis, please contact The Samaritans, or Crisis.
Whatever you’re going through, there’s always someone there to listen – with no pressure and no judgement. Call 116 123. Line is freephone, and open 24 hours. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org
In times of crisis or distress please call 0300 456 83 42. Line open 5pm-9am Monday to Friday, with 24 hours cover at weekends including Bank Holidays.